Friday, May 22, 2009

Marketing - It's a Conversation

man oh man---as far as I can tell, marketing is really a conversation. It is a relationship, and it had better not be dysfunctional.

At AvantGarb we chat, email, snail mail, tweet, blog and send out e-newsletters. We make renderings, chat some more, tweak this and that---chat some more.

I have come to think that business is what makes the world go round. As a pure artist, we make visible our singular vision, and if that vision makes it in a public venue, where people see it, experience it, react to it---that, alone, is a completely marvelous.

Art is the material world is a collaboration.

Marketing is a continuing conversation.

Common Language Contracts

We are so fluent in what we do. If yours is an arty biz that creates custom projects/pieces, chances are pretty good that your client/customer really doesn't quite know what they're purchasing---or what the heck you're talking about. They aren't fluent in the language of mural painting, mascot making, school performance, storytelling, whatever.

We use lotsa different fabrics, at AvantGarb, when we make mascots. Cavalier as I am, I thought everyone knew what lycra/spandex was. They don't. Now we call it a heavy-duty, stretchy, athletic fabric.

I'm not fluent in computery talk. All of the computer geek guys around AvantGarb try to speak in the simplest, most remedial terms to me. These are just a couple of examples about how we speak the same language, but don't understand each other. when you think everybody has agreed on what will be done where, and for how much, it's a good idea to write it down . Your client may see something in the description and cost they thought they understood, but really don't understand.

Although we speak the same language, we don't all understand the nuances or each others WorkSpeak. A contract may not be poetry. Ideally, it's clear, concise as possible, and blunt.

Here's a really simple sample of a contract. If you forget something important, it will become an issue later. The point of a contact is that everybody understands what is expected.

In a contract we try to find each other's common language.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Art Cred

Fabric has always been the thing that moved me---its my medium. I saw a monumental, soft-sculpture Claes Oldenburg exhibit at MoMA when I was young, I was hooked on the creative possibilities of fabric and art. The giant, soft typewriter was just great and floppy and off kilter. Oh yeah, and the giant tube of toothpaste---ah, the 60's!
So, Oldenburg is partially responsible for my meandering path to art and business. Here's a little synopsis:
  • Friends of the Rag (FOR) in Seattle. We were a band of artists who put on really grand, arty productions at museums, bars, country fairs, society galas, even opening of the aquarium---where I was a Sexy Salmon!
  • Craft fair where I sold Soft sculpture plants in soft pots
  • NEA grant and a moved to NYC.
  • Concieved and produced a series of costume performances like Fashion Passion, Fashion Fever, Fashion Accident at St Marks-in-the-Bowery Church.--- Undercover Work at the Avant Garde Festival---She Shops for Bargains on Canal St.
  • I was a studio artist at PS 1 (now part of MoMA) way, way,way back in the day when artists were awarded studios there---What a place!
  • Worked at the NewMuseum and at MoMA,
  • Met a guy (Jim), fell in love (still in love), got married, had a kid (Annie!) moved to Berkeley
  • Costumed for Beach Blanket Babylon
  • Had another kid (Katie!)
  • Started AvantGarb!!!! - in my Berkely CA garage---where else would a little biz like mine start?
Would I have wandered down this path without Claus Oldenburg?

For more on Clas Oldenburg go to: