Sunday, April 29, 2012

Nantahala Aqueduct

 (edited May 4, 2012)
I have not shared much from my body of digital art online for several reasons, but the ‘Just 3 Years’ thought frame has really challenged the validity of those reasons.It also launched a wave of deep thought, that just today has clarified something for me. My digital art is it's own journey. I use the camera to explore my world. I bring to it my own perspective, and in post processing, I reveal even more of what I was sensing in the field. I'm usually not happy with it until I'm surprised.

Today’s entry is a piece of the Duke Power plant's aqueduct photographed on a recent trip to the Nantahala gorge area. I rarely do landscapes or architecture, but this hunk of pipe was just so beautiful, I couldn't resist.

If you’re not a local, Nantahala means ‘land of the noon day sun.’ The gorge itself, for which the national forest is named, is a rather limited area of steep and closely set mountains in western North Carolina. It gathers the area waters into the Nantahala river which is collected in the man-made Nantahala Lake. The Duke Power company siphons off lake water through a giant aqueduct running along Old River Road, which appears to be the original Nantahala river, (now a quiet creek along a sandy road). I recently came across a mention that this pipeline may not be in use any more. A much larger creek spills out of the bottom of the lake. Locals call this Dick's Creek as nearly as I can gather. The two merge again later while still in the gorge. (You can see a snapshot of what I think is called Dicks Creek Falls on my nature blog.) The water from the aqueduct pours (or poured? might not be in use now) through the turbines at the bottom of the gorge where it joins the smaller creeks and creates a great river famous for exciting rafting.

The exact name of this aqueduct pipe is unknown to me. Given it's location, Nantahala seems to fit best, but there is a nearby wide spot in the road called Aquone that gets credit for an aqueduct, apparently bored through the mountains with a waterfall inside of the more I research the more confusing it gets.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Marketing is Art Too

Today, Alyson B Stanfield of the ArtBizBlog asks why some artists are uncomfortable with commercial promotion of their work. Is there such a thing as too commercial?

Personally, I think when artists express this concern, they are really asking a hidden question and revealing a hidden fear:
  • The Question: Do they have permission from the ‘star-makers’ to do their own marketing? The anti-branding of Thomas Kinkade by snarky critics was very effective. Their derision was irrelevant to Kinkade's market, but it certainly instilled fear of commercial marketing (and distaste for one very effective body of work) in the minds of artists! What they all seemed to ignore, was the fact that Kinkade's market was not the typical artist's market. He was targeting the people that artists (who want to make a living) abandoned long ago.
  • The Fear: Due to the widespread misuse of statistics and language, and to its association with mass produced goods, 'commercial' marketing in general smells in-authentic. It also sounds like it's out of scale for the typical artist career. The very word 'commercial' may be the source of resistance.

Both the question and the fear reveal a need for more information:
  • Everyone who wants to sell their art needs to self-brand. It creates a consistent and ‘sticky’ message. When you pay big money for Manolo Blahnik shoes…notice that it’s the artist's NAME which accrues all the mystique and value created by the quality of the shoe.. A marketing professional can help you assemble a memorable and classy combo of  typeface, coloring, and catchphrases to use throughout your marketing pieces.
  • Placement is essential. Your brand will acquire the  perceived economic value of the product that surrounds it. This applies to art shows, galleries, print publications.(This is why Kinkade needed his own galleries.) If you show in a yard sale, you can make a sale, but only at yard sale prices. The higher up the socioeconomic ladder you travel, the more it costs to be presented and presentable, both in marketing production and in your own social skills. The price of your work reflects these costs.
  • Marketing can begin as simply as determining the subject matter and style that best reflects your spirit and promises a long creative pathway. Fill show walls, website pages, newsletters, and gallery fliers with that style work + your name. Repeat.  Repeat some more.  Ta-da! Branded and marketed. If you desire further reach and  targeting of your audience, professional services are well advised.
  • Use the commercialism necessary to reach your buying audience. Marketing makes the knowledge of and access to your work convenient to the buyer. Each target audience (and there are subsets within each), has a specific expectation in price, subject, and quality.
    • The mass market (suited to prints, mass production,)
    • The upper middle-class market (suited to artists with local reach and local pricing with traditional and regional styles and subjects.)
    • The academic and private collector markets  (Unique artistic voices reflective of a collection theme or of private collector taste.)
If you want to sell your art on a regular basis, 'commercial' is not a bad word. After all, its root is 'commerce' which is your espoused goal. A marketing professional designs the whole package, from commercial art to messaging and publications to suit YOUR art style and target market. If you look at the package and don't LOVE the way your work is packaged, then pick another marketer. Marketing is art too.