I have recently been at the second educational meeting by the local Chamber of Commerce (I wrote about the first one I attended, few days ago). It wasn’t a rocket science in terms of content which was mostly pretty basic, common sense advises; but the atmosphere was good, and I enjoyed it. The second meeting was was held in the TAC, Temporary Art Center in Eindhoven, the place I like very much for its wild creativity and rebelliousness. So I expected a much more creative, and also much more relevant for the creatives a talk. What a disappointment 😦
Not only was it a plain and outdated marketing propaganda (4Ps, USPs and such stuff, irrelevant if not wrong in the new social and economic realities). But in the context of ‘creative professions’ such advices started to look simply stupid and vulgar. For example, there was quite a few artists in the audience – painters, sculptures – so, their question was ‘What is the USP (=Unique Selling Point in a marketing lingo) of an artist?”
– “I paint landscapes”, answered one of the artists.
– “Nah, that’s not enough. Everybody paints the landscapes. You have to find a way to differentiate from everyone else”.
– “Any suggestions?”, ventured the artist.
– “I don’t know, but may be you can use a special paint. Or may be you can start painting using only the fingers, and not a brush. But you must differentiate yourself from the rest!”, confidently concluded the lector.
What’s the USP of Van Gogh? of Shagal? or of Kandinsky? Did they create their work with an aim to ‘differentiate’ from the rest? Or was this ‘differentiator’ always already there with them, merely reflecting the very fact that each of them had a unique talent, and a unique personality, and just tried to express it in their own unique way (thus further developing its uniqueness)?
What is the USP of my own art? I run an abstract photography blog. One picture a day, every day, for almost eight years soon. The one at the top of this posting is of April 23. I don’t do it for eight years to ‘differentiate from the rest’. I just do it because it is the way I see the world, and myself in this world, and how I pave my way through. Images in this blog amuse some people, they write to me and we talk about these works. Some of them buy these pictures, most of them don’t. One of the them happened to be a head of the museum of contemporary art, and he liked my pictures too, and that’s how I got my first large exhibition done. And then more people liked these works, and that’s how I went to the second exhibition, this time a part of a very prestigious photographic biennale in Moscow.
Some people don’t like my works. Many, in fact. When presented at the biennale, these works also caused quite a harsh criticism from the visitors and art critics. They found them ‘pointless’, ’empty’, ‘inhuman’ and ‘soul-less’ etc, etc. It was a bit painful to hear, but just a bit. It didn’t change the way I make my works.
Because it is the way I make MY works.
Yesterday I learned that Alexander Slusarev, a famous Russian photographer, died. A shocking news, I just met him in Moscow, during our exhibition. He was my co-exhibitor, and our show was called ‘One map, two routs’, somewhat juxtaposing our works. Some considered our works very similar to each other, some others thought we are worlds apart (once again reminding that any USP is the eye of the beholder). He didn’t do his photography to gain a USP. He did it because he couldn’t do otherwise.
Rest in peace, Alexander ‘San Sanych’.
Why do I write it in the Summ()n’s blog?
I guess because I treat the things I do in Summ()n in a similar way. My ‘USP” here is me – that way I think, the way I analyze the situations of our clients or partners, and the way I create solutions for them. It is based on a unique blend of my background, knowledge, experiences, skills. Some people are impressed with them, and we work. Some people see nothing special in them, and we don’t.