Sunday, December 12, 2010

Still in LA 2


Further to my post called "Nomenclature" a while back ... here is another example of one of my "pet"concerns in art marketing: the lack of nomenclature to describe new ways of making art and the confusion about "process" and "product" in the consumer's mind about the application of new technologies to art making.

"Using a process that subsumes monoprint drawing into a variety of digitally manipulated imagery and adding hand embellishment to a final printed surface, one of a kind "digiglyphs" are created." This form of printmaking combines hand drawing and traditional monoprint techniques with digital manipulation and outsourcing. The term "Digigylph" was coined by Knight in November of 2008 to describe artwork made for the Migration series. Digiglyph - a mixed media, multi-sourced digital print."

This is half of the descriptive information for a show called Border Crossings by Michael Knight at the TAG Gallery in Bergamot Station in LA. The other half of the descriptive information is more traditional artist's statement.

So my question to viewers I encounter is, "Would you buy it?" For young people, the answer is often yes, but they don't. Older buyers answer my question with a question: "What is it?" When I read the quote above, some share my horror at the mixed message above.

Whereas the text seems to be offering an explanation to the public, it uses words that in some cases are not clear ("subsume" in this context; "monoprint"). Whereas we all may know what a monoprint is, are the galleries customers familiar with it? I found that the answer is, "No."

If you need to explain something, be sure it is understandable to the uninitiated. And if you have to invent a term, be prepared for a rough ride with customers who want to know what they are buying. With several artists I saw on this trip inventing words for their process, there is increasing confusion in the art buyers mind. Time, of course, will sort things out, but right now, with a soft market and the impact of new technologies, confusion reigns.

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