Is Good Marketing Wasted on Bad Art?

Looking for a Gallerist - Not Really a Plan

Sign shot on Tenth Avenue in Chelsea.
Photo: Sid Garrison on Facebook
via Mark Pollack on Blackberry
via Joanne Mattera on

This is my response to the idea that “99% of ‘artists’ have no business being in the vocation of creating fine art.” I know many visual artists & musicians with similar views. (NOTE: This is heavily based on a comment I made on Cory Huff’s The Abundant Artist; I returned to it when another artist ‘liked’ it.)

The idea that good marketing is wasted on bad products, & therefore unethical, came up during my college days (graphic design).

The effective marketing of a mass-produced bad product gets that bad product off the market faster. Sure, many may buy the product once, but no one buys it a second time if it sucks.

Now apply the same rule to a fine artist’s work. Is it up to a certain standard? Maybe, maybe not. With good marketing, many may see it, but few might buy. We could argue that it’s always the case that ‘few’ buy, & the concern is whether it’s few enough to discourage an artist. Perhaps, rather than poor sales causing an artist to abandon art, it influences a rethink of style, statement, medium, etc.

There’s a lot of art in the world. I doubt I’ll ever see most of it. While there is some value to gatekeeping, the idea that one sensibility should rule any medium is bullshit.

Should I really be restricted from seeing any particular piece, artist or style b/c of one arbitrary opinion? That’s where marketing comes in. There’s no crime in viewing something you don’t like (contrary to those who want to live without ever being ‘offended’). If I don’t like it, no harm no foul.

It’s easy to forget that the art world was wrong about van Gogh during his lifetime, & personal taste is as diverse as people. What is a standard, anyway? As the audience, my standard is most important. Live & let live; we all deserve the opportunity to speak regardless of another’s arbitrary rules. (Hello, Internet!)

And if some of us waste our money (on either marketing or bad art), well, it’s a free country.


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