Art for Art’s Sake


 So Close…

Yet so far away. Today is 6.6.16, the intended launch day of my 4th book, “The Skeleton Men”. It is a project that I’ve been excited about and working on for years and is close to complete. Technically, it is the 3rd book in my “Bonesetter’s Revenge” series of 8 books, and is my 4th book since I began my “Publish a Book Every Year For the Rest of My Life” goal. Compared against other authors and artists that have published zero product to represent themselves, I should be proud of my accomplishments.

But I’m not.

“The Skeleton Men” is not out, not totally ready for prime time, and I have not thought about a new release date. From a Marketer and Product Development perspective, I suck because I missed my Publishing deadline; from an artist perspective, I am unsure if the deadline is important and even insecure about whether my goals are worthwhile.

Consumption of my product (actual sales of my books, prints, candles and etc.) has plummeted since I began the S.E.R.E. Project almost a decade ago.  Sales aren’t consistent or notable (I certainly couldn’t live off them if I tried); my audience seems to be disengaging in social media, even though I push new content out regularly and my “Audience Size” continues to grow; and I can’t seem to find consistent passionate influencers/supporters of my Art product. Despite my talent and drive and energy, my “artistic personal brand” is withering on the vine.

Quite frankly, these days my thoughts turn toward the bigger questions on the cusp of the 10-year anniversary of the Artemis Sere brand (launched on 7.7.07) — “Should I really be putting this much time and effort into selling my Art to an audience? Is my art really for “Art’s Sake”?

“Art for art’s sake” is the usual English rendering of a French slogan from the early 19th century, “l’art pour l’art”, and expresses a philosophy that the intrinsic value of art, and the only “true” art, is divorced from any didactic, moral, or utilitarian function. Such works are sometimes described as “autotelic”, from the Greek autoteles, “complete in itself”, a concept that has been expanded to embrace “inner-directed” or “self-motivated” human beings.”[Wikipedia]

Feeding the Beast

This is a different day and age for an artist. Content Marketing requires a constant connection, churning engines of an ever-present calendar and a focus on engaging with a target audience. If you’re committed to the life of an artist, one that has a relationship with an audience, you must respect the always-on cycles, while trying to focus equal time on artistic production.

Your connection with an external audience is a beast that must continually be fed, even as social media platforms complicate your path to reaching your hungry consumer. A Fan or Follower doesn’t even see your content the majority of the time — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn…. all of the major platforms “algorithm your existence away”, unless you have resources to pay.

The reality is that all “extended” efforts take time, creative energy, and dedication to strategies and tactics that evolve as Marketing platforms do. One day a Hashtag is a trend in a platform; the next day too many can diminish your content reach. One day imagery is the preferred content type; the next day our short attention spans have moved over to video. One day you can connect with fans and followers in the 2nd largest country in the world (Facebook); the next day your reach is limited to single digits.

If your audience is a famished flock of followers, chances are good they will die of starvation before they find their way to your content. And you, as an artist, will return to the life of “starving artist” unless you’ve figured out a way to get your art into the hands of people that want it.

If you want to feel successful as an artist, you must find a modicum of commercial success which can affect personal stability. That can’t happen unless you treat “art as a product“.

Blame it on Boy Bands

In my day job, I help manage and launch products. Actual products that save lives — not artistic products that are less than critical for saving the life and health of any person. Art serves a necessary purpose for humanity, but isn’t an experience that compels people to action unless connected to audience passion (in most cases). Marketing Art correctly and with the appropriate resources helps connect product to passion, and give consumers an avenue to “Own Art” as they never have before.

But all product experiences are not made — or paid — equally.

People are willing to spend hundreds of dollars to see a musician or sports team, even if their ticket is so far away that they need binoculars to observe the event, but are often unwilling to spend that same amount of money for a piece that can hang in their hallway for the rest of their lives. They’re willing to drop ten bucks on a quick fix at Starbucks, but unwilling to invest that same amount of money on the book of a local artist.

These days, it’s less about product quality than critical mass — your product or experience could be substandard, but if you reach a certain threshhold of impressions, engagements or clickthroughs, you’re viewed as successful. Heck, even social listening tools now have specific filters for “Boy Bands” content; the digital experience around that type of art is so disruptive to common marketing trends and techniques that it is considered noise.

A Boy Band itself is a pre-programmed, predefined art product and experience targeted at a critical mass audience (target audience persona: teenbopper girls around the world) that will amplify the passion connected to the boys… err… music. I am not a “Belieber”, and never will be. Justin Beiber is a product, not an artist, and contributing to the struggle with art in the 21st century:

Our Human Art has become equitable to Noise that consumers tune out.

Engines of Noise

In all reality, the majority of process-related jobs will be automated by robotics and technology within the next century. Your run-of-the-mill service jobs will be kiosked, digitized, personalized, virtual realitied and dehumanized. Creators in different markets are taking personal touch out of the hands of humans and giving them algorithms, drones, responsive designs and artificial intelligence.

At some point in our future, the only differentiating skills will be those with that involve our ability to create and imagineer. Our ability to be artistic — to create something that doesn’t derive from a pre-programmed pattern, extrapolation or design — will be the only thing that separates humans from robots. I follow Transhumanist studies and patterns, and am fascinated by the changes in humanity as it integrates technology. The trends are “wearable sensors” now (Fitbit, Health Monitors, Environmental Monitors) that keep a person healthy; in ten years time, these “wearable” sensors will be biologically integrated.

The tuning out of noise — of Art — will be a setting in your sensor software. Consumers of art will become more discerning and selective and less patient; Producers of art will need to follow suit. The pressure on the artist to conform, reform, adapt, re-target and refine based on consumption channel or content type will be fundamental.

For artists that are lucky enough to have financial and marketing support, these types of challenges are secondary to artistic product development; for artists that don’t have Corporate backing, are not part of a Publishing House and/or do not big-pocket fans and followers, the question of balance is penultimate. Artists don’t want to be engines of noise, but must cut through the wavelengths in order to have their voice heard, their product seen or their experience appreciated, often forcing us to be people and enact tactics that aren’t familiar — or take way too much time out of artistic production.

If your creative engines aren’t driving you closer to your goals, maybe your goals are wrong.

Art for Art’s Sake

Circling back to the release date for my 4th book, “The Skeleton Men”, I question whether or not I’m setting a release date to appease my audience or to give myself an arbitrary deadline, a day to work and strategize toward so I’m meeting my own production goals. Am I setting myself up for a false sense of success by meeting that arbitrary launch date? Am I thinking too much about it all? Should we be applying Project Management thought processes to creative development?

The problem with “Art for Product’s Sake” is that there’s way too much thinking involved. Every strategy, every content calendar, every tactic employed drains artistic energy and strains production that was developed to meet personal passion targets — not to keep food on my table and paint on my brushes. If target metrics aren’t met, you have obvious proof that your efforts of marketing your art are not working. If you care about turning those metrics around, it requires new strategies, new platforms, new promotions, approaching new audiences and/or finding ways to activate your current audience (that don’t sound like begging for help).

Over the last year, I’ve had an opportunity to show my art at a Gallery in Florida and stock my candles in a local Furniture store. At the end of the day, I failed to make both of those happen due to the lack of resources I have to support my Art. I can’t seem to make “Art for Product’s Sake” work in the Digital world, and I can’t enable “Art for Product’s Sake” to work in the Physical world. If both of those are problematic and unsuccessful, perhaps the inevitable answer is to swing to the other side of the spectrum —

Go dark, embrace “Art for Art’s Sake”, and let the Boy Bands rule the noise-polluted present.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Octaves and the Octave Collection

The Show
Last January I undertook the painstaking task of inventorying, categorizing, pricing and labeling the fine art that I’ve created. It truly was a labor of love and took the majority of my scheduled vacation from work. Sadly, I was only able to get part of the way through, but Im proud to report that my final catalog count was over 215 pieces — and those are just my canvas-painted acrylic creations. When I include my digital, photography, posters, inks, watercolors, chalks and other artistic conjurations, my total collection number could easily triple.
I think it is an impressive number for someone that didn’t go to art school, is not an art professional and has no formal art training. I do this because I love it, but I also do it because I believe in the ability to tell a dynamic story with pictures.
Slight verbal context. Abstract narrative framing. Surreal character exposition.
A story flown through confined streams of stark images and words
The Flow
While cataloging my pieces, I became challenged by presenting my mass quantity in logical and coherent scale. A picture on my wall carries a story of its own, but has greater importance when viewed as part of a concept-oriented collective. Some collections are aligned to subplots of my stories, to environments and atmospheres I created in support of the development of characters or creative themes, to nightmare worlds and surreal scenarios, or to memories of this broken human. 
Ultimately, the collections help bind tides together and create dreamscape of mystic, mythic, sometimes minimalist and sometimes epic proportions.
To do this, I am returning to my common pattern, the number that weaves through many of creations or creative structures: 8.

The Octave

I developed groups of visual content called “Octaves”. An octave is most common in music, but is used in this case to represent a group of 8 Sere creations that are united by a theme, a story, a style or visual plotline.
They vary in design and medium, but are always grouped in an intentional collection of eight fine art pieces.
The Octave Collection
It is my intention to find places to display Octave Collections, or rent them to interested parties for business or personal decor. 
For those individuals interested in prints, all pieces will be housed in my portfolio at High quality prints of individual pieces can be ordered from this site.
Blog post listing existing Octaves (and the individual pieces that complete an Octave Collection) coming soon.
What’s Next

Completion of Blog Stories for all existing Octaves. Planning and creation of new Octaves. Development of Octavation, side business dedicated to promotion, rental and install of Octaves in homes and businesses around the world.

#artemissere #artrovert #seretic
#octave #octavecollection

Artemis Sere’s Serenity Gallery Fine Art Inventory (2/2016)

Artemis Sere’s Serenity Gallery
Fine Art Inventory

Version 1: Blog list created (2/2016)
Version 2: Will update with links to shots from the Gallery from various social spaces. (TBD)

Item Number Octave Set Gallery ID Media Title
0001 001 Acrylic Psychic Tresspassenger
0002 010 Acrylic Seeing in Tongues
0003 010 Acrylic Waterlines
0004 002 00514 Acrylic The Evangelist
0005 Acrylic Restive Souls
0006 009 Acrylic Siamese Fiends
0007 X Acrylic Midnight Stroll on Empty Roads
0008 023 Acrylic A Good Day for the Crows
0009 Acrylic Fallen
0010 013 Acrylic Ixion
0011 004 Acrylic The Demi Lich
0012 026 Acrylic Ascending Red
0013 007 Acrylic Dissecting Halos
0014 031 Acrylic Icarus Descending
0015 X Oil Sunset on the Styx
0016 Acrylic The Motley Dead
0017 Acrylic Bloody Blades
0018 Acrylic Shuttered Iris
0019 028 Acrylic Savages I
0020 Acrylic Terra I
0021 Acrylic Ether Plate I
0022 Acrylic Darker Roots I
0023 Acrylic Terra II
0024 Acrylic Terra III
0025 Acrylic Divided We Fall
0026 Acrylic Darker Roots II
0027 034 Acrylic As Night
0028 X Acrylic Glorious Wings
0029 006 Pencil Love Amongst Constructs
0030 012 Pencil Mistress of the Dusk
0031 Acrylic Ebola Season
0032 Acrylic Once Resonant
0033 Acrylic Empire of Abaddon
0034 Acrylic Pyramidium
0035 Acrylic Rise of the Butterflies
0036 028 Acrylic The Wraith of Ages
0037 018 Acrylic Of the Blasted Mind
0038 018 Acrylic Touched
0039 029 Acrylic My Silent Exile
0040 002 Acrylic Revenant
0041 002 Acrylic Vanity of the Ghoul
0042 004 Acrylic Revenant Weather
0043 Acrylic Vagabonds
0044 003 Acrylic Vegetative State 1
0045 026 Acrylic October Burns
0046 003 Acrylic Vegetative State 2
0047 Acrylic Eye of the Desolate
0048 004 Acrylic Ravenous Dead
0049 Acrylic Minister of Madness
0050 Acrylic Insect Inside
0051 013 Acrylic Portrait of a Charming Zombie
0052 002 Acrylic Crypt Echoes
0053 018 Acrylic Lobotomy of Me
0054 005 Acrylic Serehand 1
0055 005 Acrylic Serehand 2
0056 013 Acrylic Recursed
0057 Acrylic Lazarus
0058 007 Acrylic Cascading Trances
0059 001 Acrylic Leftpathred III: Dirge for the Savage Surgeon
0060 Acrylic Ravepunk
0061 Acrylic Above the Blindness
0062 026 Acrylic Red Moon Rising
0063 006 Acrylic Divinity of Sweet Tea
0064 003 Acrylic Abstract Pollenation
0065 Chalk Away
0066 Chalk Utopya Lost
0067 031 Acrylic Of Blood and Clay
0068 Acrylic Pyrrhic Epitaph
0069 031 Acrylic Pandemonium Burning
0070 Acrylic Utensils of the Extratrerrestrial
0071 026 Acrylic The Fragile Edge of Life
0072 011 Acrylic Pandemonium (Part 3, Sea of Fiends)
0073 013 Acrylic As The Inside Slides Away
0074 004 Acrylic The Last In Line
0075 Acrylic Mechanics of Misery
0076 009 Acrylic Geistkind
0077 014 Acrylic States of Disgrace
0078 Acrylic Blue Wheel
0079 Acrylic War Paint
0080 015 Acrylic Into Ether
0081 015 Acrylic From the Resonant Reaches
0082 017 Acrylic Genesis of Chaos
0083 003 Acrylic Antopia
0084 001 Acrylic Leftpathred II: The Blood Veil
0085 008 Acrylic Disassembly of Self
0086 009 Acrylic Obox-Ob
0087 012 Acrylic The Plague of Ghosts
0088 013 Acrylic Traces of Life
0089 023 Acrylic Sullen Hills
0090 004 Acrylic On Hallowed Ground
0091 004 Acrylic The Fall of Tartarus
0092 014 Acrylic Aelister in Flames
0093 001 Acrylic Leftpathred VII: Dissecting Darkness
0094 001 Acrylic Leftpathred V: Anatomie 1
0095 019 Acrylic The Seeper Sketches, The Scowering
0096 017 Acrylic Needles in the Dark
0097 001 Acrylic Leftpathred VI: Anatomie 2
0098 003 Acrylic The Daedalith
0099 010 Acrylic Fragmentation of Life
0100 002 Acrylic Left for Dead
0101 022 Acrylic Holding On
0102 020 Acrylic Metanoia
0103 020 Acrylic+Nails the eXit
0104 019 Acrylic Bare Bones
0105 025 Acrylic The Multiverse
0106 026 Acrylic My Mourning Star
0107 025 Acrylic Arterial Undertow
0108 026 Acrylic The Last Branch
0109 015 Acrylic Prismatically Dead
0110 013 Acrylic Under His Dark Wings
0111 004 Acrylic Left of the Murder
0112 003 Acrylic Ruddy Foliage
0113 026 Acrylic Red Dust Spectrum
0114 001 Acrylic Leftpathred I: Stalker Weather
0115 012 Acrylic The Groaning God
0116 012 Acrylic Ebelyne
0117 031 Acrylic The Fell Phantom
0118 015 Acrylic Flight of the Shadowsewn
0119 007 Acrylic Jagged Trajectories
0120 Acrylic Deep Midnight
0121 027 Acrylic The Gargoyle
0122 019 Acrylic Weatheredmen
0123 023 Acrylic Adrift
0124 023 Acrylic Leave the Burning World Behind
0125 023 Acrylic The Barren
0126 017 Acrylic The Mind Flayer
0127 010 Acrylic Broken Water
0128 027 Acrylic The Outcast
0129 027 Acrylic The Lord of the Fall
0130 003 Acrylic Rise of the Triffids
0131 010 Acrylic Necroterrestrial
0132 026 Acrylic Under Sanguine Skies
0133 Acrylic The Panic of the Parasites
0134 029 Acrylic Seraph
0135 001 Acrylic Leftpathred IV: The Cutting Table
0136 001 Acrylic Leftpathred VIII: Leftpath Red
0137 019 Acrylic Mechanical Malevolence
0138 002 Acrylic After Life
0139 010 Acrylic Persistence of Virga
0140 022 Acrylic Waiting for Charon
0141 008 Acrylic From the Prismatic Void
0142 004 Acrylic Gallow’s Grove
0143 010 Acrylic The Haunted Vast
0144 018 Acrylic The Cutting Room Floor of My Story
0145 011 Acrylic Pandemonium (Part 1)
0146 011 Acrylic Pandemonium (Part 2, Antibiotics) 
0147 019 Acrylic Gehenna
0148 019 Acrylic Screecher
0149 Acrylic Spinderkin
0150 Acrylic Pushed Below
0151 031 Acrylic Embers of the Dead
0152 010 Acrylic Cirrus Spissatus
0153 013 Acrylic Messiah
0154 017 Acrylic Becoming Lucent
0155 017 Acrylic Dissolution 
0156 019 Acrylic Jawless
0157 008 Acrylic Resolution
0158 017 Acrylic Macabre Orbits
0159 022 Acrylic Shores of Bliss
0160 018 Acrylic Cardinal Rule
0161 Acrylic Remains of the Meltdown
0162 023 Acrylic Dark Horizons
0163 028 Acrylic Savages VIII
0164 018 Acrylic Rage Through It
0165 Acrylic Sustainability
0166 003 Acrylic Dandelion Strength
0167 022 Acrylic Against the Tides
0168 Acrylic The Scarab (Right Side)
0169 Ink The Scarab (Left Side)
0170 015 Acrylic Disassociated Waves
0171 005 Acrylic Out of My Grasp
0172 Acrylic Decapitative Streaks
0173 031 Acrylic Into the Furnace
0174 019 Acrylic Gutless
0175 002 Acrylic The Hollowed’s Eve
0176 030 Acrylic Chaos Reigns
0177 008 Acrylic Flametongue
0178 023 Acrylic Echoes of Separation
0179 022 Acrylic Unknown Cove
0180 030 Acrylic Flamewinds
0181 022 Acrylic Dawn
0182 008 Acrylic City of the Forlorn
0183 Acrylic Queen of Decay
0184 013 Acrylic Cacophony of the Damned
0185 027 Acrylic Cadaverous Counsel
0186 022 Acrylic Polihale
0187 018 Acrylic Bloodlines of Earth
0188 008 Acrylic The Curse of Beauty
0189 022 Acrylic The Golden Shore
0190 008 Acrylic Downtown Atlantis at Rush Hour
0191 017 Acrylic Disharmony
0192 014 Acrylic Harbingers
0193 002 Acrylic The Wretched
0194 031 Acrylic Empire of Abaddon
0195 031 Acrylic Ebola Season
0196 033 Acrylic Cavernhaunt 1
0197 033 Acrylic Possession
0198 033 Acrylic Gobaelyn 1
0199 033 Acrylic Cavernhaunt 2
0200 033 Acrylic The Rack
0201 033 Acrylic Gobaelyn 2
0202 033 Acrylic The Harrowing
0203 033 Acrylic Companion Dead
0204 008 Acrylic In Sickness
0205 023 Acrylic Impure Crust
0206 034 Acrylic Black Blooms
0207 034 Acrylic Dark Folds
0208 034 Acrylic Gold Skies
0209 035 Acrylic
0210 035 Acrylic
0211 035 Acrylic
0212 035 Acrylic
0213 021 Book Collage The Tattered Ends
0214 Acrylic Of the Family Tree
0215 Acrylic Regents and Revenants