John Enneking, courtesy of the artrenewal.org A great online museum of painting.
I mentioned the five word description in passing the other day. Several people remarked on it and I thought I might give the idea its own post. Every artists seems to have a description that the collectors use among themselves about him ( or her of course). I know the description that is commonly used about several painter friends of mine. One of my friends always gets this golden boy glowing review, he deserves it and it really helps his sales . Another artist I know has a reputation as being hard to deal with and that hurts him. What your description is, is important for your career. If you can control, set or effect what the description on you is that's a great thing.
A number of years ago I was looking at my favorite art magazine and saw an advertisement for a group of three artists I vaguely knew and they were being billed as "The New American Luminists". They painted like the Hudson River School. When I saw it I laughed, it seemed a stretch and I didn't think it was a very good marketing ploy. Boy was I wrong! In the decade that has followed this little cadre of painters has ridden that title to enormous success. People still think of them as that. And I guess they are.
There are young painters who get classed as HOT who have a rocket ride through a couple of shows. They then are reappraised. Some of them drop out of sight just as quickly as they appeared and others maintain that level. It is hard to be the new guy on the block for very long. It is a perishable position.
There are also artists who have managed to attach a title to themselves. They are the "painter of sealife and hopping whale thingies". Or they are the "foremost painter of the civil war", or they are the "guy who you collect if you live in Southern Arkansas. There are artists, who are the one who paints 19th century ports and shipping. Those are all labels that tell people this guy is who you want if you like those things. Often it is advertising that has defined that description for these artists and it has taken many years of work to get that recognition.
It is a good thing to try and find out what description the world that knows of you is using. If you like it, you want to promote it in your advertising. If you don't, you need to try to replace it with one you like better. I guess this is called branding. I believe I will write more about that soon.