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This is one of a continuing series of articles on discovering, buying, commissioning, and displaying art.
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To Brand or not to Brand or How to keep your art fresh 

There are some truisms in life.  Artists want to be known.  Artists want to sell their work.  Preferably artists would like to do both: be known and sell their work.   That is where the conundrum comes in.  To become a salable quantity to an art gallery requires consistency.  Namely, as an artist you produce consistently salable artwork in a timely fashion so the gallery and you can make money.  Art gallery clients appear to value consistency and to some degree trends.  The art gallery and your clientele accumulate your work on the premise that your style or “brand” of artwork will stay the same or evolve slowly over time.

This is a fine working system until one of two things happen.  One, the public becomes saturated with the particular style that you work in.  The second is possibly more ominous: you are bored with the work, but need the “boring work” to sell while you transition to a new style.   Both are indicative of a change is in the air.   

One evening, we invited a couple to dinner.  The guy, Mordecai, was a 40 hour a week outside salesman.  His dream before marriage was to be a bass player.  His dream was to play bass and “mine the groove” of bass playing for his entire bass playing career. The reciting of the bass playing dream was recounted with due reverence.  It would never occur to Mordecai that one day the groove would be tapped out.  It was incomprehensible just like it is to a large segment of the population that dreams of “one day I will quit my job and pursue my passion”.   What happens after the passion dims? 

Finding an answer what direction to take your style next is challenging.  There is no right or wrong.  Usually there is no one to help you with the answer.  It is a voyage of discovery. 

When your style of art feels flat and dead you need to innovate not completely discard it.  For instance if you paint delicate lilting florals; it would be jarring to your audience for them to see you painting screamingly bright and colorful abstracts.   It stuns your clients who would then wonder that if you were doing a commission for them what would they receive?  The client who asked for a subtle wafting floral – would they get a hard-edged geometric in riotous colors? 

Innovation can mean using different colors.  Using the same colors in your palette differently. Using larger or different shaped canvases.  Maybe even introducing different elements into the art.  For stone sculptors it could mean introducing some brass or steel into your work.  Also if the sculpture has been monolithic up til now try a grouping of stones (think Stonehenge for an over the top grouping).  

The wonderful part of exploring is that one of two things can happen.  First you will be overjoyed with the result. The joy will show in your work. Your clients will wonder why you stuck with the old style so long.  This is a Duh! moment.  

The other result could be that the innovation tried was okay but not as good as you thought. Another innovation will need to be tried.  But, in the meantime,  going back to the old style is like coming home again.  It is always nice to go back to the people that love you and your current work.   

You can have it both ways!


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