Another Gimmick or a Passport to Your Art?

In case you've been hiding under a rock and haven't heard, 300 of Damien Hirst's Spot Paintings are filling up all 11 Gagosian gallery locations around the world: New York (3 locations), Beverly Hills, London (2 locations), Paris, Rome, Geneva, Athens, and Hong Kong.

The Complete Spot Challenge was issued to encourage people to visit all 11 locations. It states:

Visit all eleven Gagosian Gallery locations during the exhibition The Complete Spot Paintings 1986–2011 and receive a signed spot print by Damien Hirst, dedicated personally to you.

One blogger opines it would take $100,000 to visit all of the sites. Another says she could do it with $5,800.

Meanwhile, at least two people completed the Complete Spot Challenge 8 days after the exhibits opened – visiting all 11 locations around the world (US, Asia, and Europe). And you can follow others update their travels on Twitter.

Steal the Idea

Regardless of what you think of Hirst or his art, you can take a marketing lesson from this.

Hirst didn't really care about giving away a signed print. He didn't care if anyone actually saw and appreciated all of the work. What he cared about was the buzz that such a challenge would create.

Even the people that thought the challenge ludicrous wrote about it and contributed to its buzz.

Sure, it's a gimmick, but gimmicks work. They create controversy and they get people talking.

Okay, maybe you don't have 11 galleries around the word. But you could host multiple exhibits simultaneously in your own town.

How could you make this gimmick work for you?

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10 thoughts on “Another Gimmick or a Passport to Your Art?”

  1. AnnaMaria Windisch-Hunt

    Not fond of gimmicks or wanna be Warhols and Van Gogh’s if it’s been done it’s been done. So did Damien Hirst take this brilliant idea from a Studio Tour or neighborhood open house?

  2. Hmmm….gimmick or art?
    I beg that the art piece is in the thought of the “spot”.
    It’s conceptual art with a handy bit of Tom Foolery thrown in for the Tom Foolery’s out there. Hirst borrows from the best – PT Barnum.
    For me, it’s in the thought of the work that the art itself exists. Rather than stealing like an artist on this idea….I have one of my own, but you’ll have to wait to see it!
    Step right up…the greatest show on earth…

  3. To somehow steal, excuse me “appropriate”, this idea is brilliant. Gimmick or not, the guy has his work in 11 different locations across the globe. Why not aspire to have your work in 11 venues? Especially if it would be simultaneously. Fabulous.

  4. Thanks for this post. It’s an interesting question – at what point do we tip from promotion to gimmick.
    I found myself on this edge as I plan my novel’s launch. I had a lot of fun ideas and then I felt like I was generating a circus instead of a book launch.
    I’m still exploring what feels authentic to me and what will create a buzz around the book so readers can share it.
    I think we’re used to gimmicks – it’s the nature of the interactive marketing world we find ourselves in.

  5. I’ve seen this done with several galleries in an area requiring a stamp to get a free drink or dinner at the local restaurant nearby. I don’t know that it sells art, but it does get people in the door to at least see the art and know it’s there.

  6. I honestly have no real opinion about this. It worked for this chain(?) of galleries and might work for others if it appeals to them and fits their clientele. I think the important part is the part that it generated a lot of interest even from people who weren’t going to even try to undertake the challenge. Heck, it has us talking about it.

  7. I went to the opening in Rome and it was just fabulous as an artist to go and see because the biggest collectors were there making quite a show themselves and adding to Hirst’s so well-cultivated by now circus atmosphere. But it’s a good reminder that this is considered the art world like it or not and if we have something to say about it as artists, why not jump into the arena to play?

  8. I think it’s quite interesting… as artists we really have to do what it takes to get that buzz going 😉 This story reminds me of the film, “Exit Through the Gift Shop” in some ways…

  9. I just heard about Damien Hirst a few weeks ago, I need to get out of the studio more. I think it is a brillant maketing idea and I wish I could see it all.

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