December 5, 2008 | Alyson Stanfield

Of sharks and tribes

I’ve been reading two books simultaneously: Tribes by Seth Godin (just finished) and The $12Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art by Don Thompson. They’re interesting reads–separately and together.

Godin speaks of heretics. No, not that kind. He talks about the heretics that try something different and change the world. Don't do what everyone else is doing. Do the opposite! Godin inspires you to put down the darned book and start leading!

Thompson harps on branding: branded artists, branded galleries, and branded collectors. While “branding” might be new to the art world, the way business gets done in the gallery-auction-museum world has been around for centuries. Thompson’s heretic is Damien Hirst, creator of the $12million stuffed shark and branded artist extraordinaire.

Things are changing! Twenty years ago we could only think of one branded artist: Warhol. Now, there are many more. The economy and a new generation of artists (who grew up online and with marketing) will bring about more changes. How will art be sold and collected in the future?

Stick around . . .

5 comments add a comment
  • Lauren

    I can’t help but feel sad about that… that the best artist will be the one with the best marketing tricks.

  • Alyson B. Stanfield

    Lauren: No one said they’d be the best. I just listened to an interview and the truth is that there are tons of good artists out there. You have to find a way to distinguish yourself.

  • Just discovered your site today. It is terrific, I just signed up to get updates. Keep up the great work.

  • Hey Alyson, I read Tribes last week. I also read The Dip. Both are the kind of books I’ll refer to often.

  • I think branding is tremendously important, and can make all the difference in the world when trying to get into that gallery or museum. Branding does not have to imply a marketing juggernaut; Simple examples of branding are using a consistent image (as in a photograph of one of your favorite pieces) in all your communications, from your website to your invoices. Getting your name out there is branding, too. You do this by signing your blogs, trading links with artists you respect, etc.

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