On ART and MERCHANDISE
My friends who are successful businessmen continually offer me their kind advice
about the business aspects of my work; my writing, my paintings, my designs for
silver medals and coins. And although I appreciate their time, their caring, their
solid and no-doubt proven advice, I am not a businessman and do not care to be.
Telling them that never turns them away however…it doesn’t even slow them down.
They remain passionately committed to turning me into a businessman. They tell
me, “If you have a product to sell, you're in business.” And, although I DO have a
product, I really have some difficulty thinking of it as 'a product to sell'.
They ardently believe that I think the commercialization of my work taints it or
corrupts it. I do not think that, and I've told them as much. However, they will not be
dissuaded; they cling to the idea that my refusal to immerse myself in the muck and
mire of marketing my work is based upon some lofty ideal. But my refusal to flail
around awkwardly, making absurd attempts at marketing my work has nothing to do
with ideals; it has everything to do with the fact that whenever I have attempted
such stuff in the past, it has always ended in embarrassment and abysmal failure.
Anybody looking at my history as a producing artist will see that I have—under
prolonged, diverse, and trying conditions—produced a very wide variety of art, in
reasonable quantity, and consistently over many many years. You can count what
I have sold by way of marketing, during those same years, on one hand.
Admittedly, a sloth might need to use both.
As said on my website "I do not want, do not need and have no real desire to sell
massive quantities of my art." Simply put, my work is not merchandise. I'm not
trying to 'move product'; I'm trying to find a good home for an endearing puppy.
I don’t know how I might get that point across better to my truly caring, admirably-
successful businessmen friends. At one time or another, after fervent debate on
this matter, I’ve offered the position of Director of Marketing at Estuary to one or
more of these good people. None have ever accepted.
These same businessmen tell me that there's no virtue in starving. And I tell them,
that is why I have maintained an unbroken chain—nearly fifty years—of utterly
meaningless, mind-numbing, low-paying jobs. They tell me that my art can be a
business and that there is no shame in selling my work. But, I'm not really trying to
SELL my work. Besides, I’m much too busy creating that work to be sidetracked by
sales. They tell me that no matter how good my work may be, it's not going to sell
itself. Unfortunately for me, it has to.
Yes, I find sales repugnant—who doesn't—but I also find it unnatural. For me, it is
natural to create stuff, it is not only unnatural but also impossible for me to sell
anything to anybody. I know. I’ve tried. It simply doesn't work.
As for suggestions about creating a business plan, targeting a market and the
various ways I might convince people that my work is a solid investment, my work is
either immediately understood or simply cannot be explained.
They tell me: It's easier for an artist to learn to do business than for a businessman
to learn to produce art. But that’s simply not true. Many clever businessmen
produce something they call ‘art’ or 'music' or 'fashion' or 'fiction' and become
amazingly successful selling their shameless output. Those people have the tools
necessary to convince other people that what they’ve produced has value, and
they have no qualms. I don’t have those tools, and I have qualms coming out of
All I have is the work itself, and it has to speak for itself.
Ultimately it comes down to this:
If I have to sell my work to someone, then it has really kinda failed as a work of art.
I could not be more sincere,
SOMETHING ABOUT RARITY:
The Liberty dollar, which is still available in
tens of thousands and was minted in the
hundreds of thousands, is often touted as
The Australian Kookaburra, 2014...1oz 99.9%
Pure Silver... is currently being offered in a
"Limited Edition" of 9,000, at $89.
'Les Morts' is genuinely rare.—offered in a
Numbered, Limited Edition of 100.
No more will ever be struck.
Punch an' me 2012
me an' Punch 1978