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 NumberOctave SetGallery IDMediaTitle
0001001AcrylicPsychic Tresspassenger
0002010AcrylicSeeing in Tongues
000400200514AcrylicThe Evangelist
0005AcrylicRestive Souls
0006009AcrylicSiamese Fiends
0007XAcrylicMidnight Stroll on Empty Roads
0008023AcrylicA Good Day for the Crows
0011004AcrylicThe Demi Lich
0012026AcrylicAscending Red
0013007AcrylicDissecting Halos
0014031AcrylicIcarus Descending
0015XOilSunset on the Styx
0016AcrylicThe Motley Dead
0017AcrylicBloody Blades
0018AcrylicShuttered Iris
0019028AcrylicSavages I
0020AcrylicTerra I
0021AcrylicEther Plate I
0022AcrylicDarker Roots I
0023AcrylicTerra II
0024AcrylicTerra III
0025AcrylicDivided We Fall
0026AcrylicDarker Roots II
0027034AcrylicAs Night
0028XAcrylicGlorious Wings
0029006PencilLove Amongst Constructs
0030012PencilMistress of the Dusk
0031AcrylicEbola Season
0032AcrylicOnce Resonant
0033AcrylicEmpire of Abaddon
0035AcrylicRise of the Butterflies
0036028AcrylicThe Wraith of Ages
0037018AcrylicOf the Blasted Mind
0039029AcrylicMy Silent Exile
0041002AcrylicVanity of the Ghoul
0042004AcrylicRevenant Weather
0044003AcrylicVegetative State 1
0045026AcrylicOctober Burns
0046003AcrylicVegetative State 2
0047AcrylicEye of the Desolate
0048004AcrylicRavenous Dead
0049AcrylicMinister of Madness
0050AcrylicInsect Inside
0051013AcrylicPortrait of a Charming Zombie
0052002AcrylicCrypt Echoes
0053018AcrylicLobotomy of Me
0054005AcrylicSerehand 1
0055005AcrylicSerehand 2
0058007AcrylicCascading Trances
0059001AcrylicLeftpathred III: Dirge for the Savage Surgeon
0061AcrylicAbove the Blindness
0062026AcrylicRed Moon Rising
0063006AcrylicDivinity of Sweet Tea
0064003AcrylicAbstract Pollenation
0066ChalkUtopya Lost
0067031AcrylicOf Blood and Clay
0068AcrylicPyrrhic Epitaph
0069031AcrylicPandemonium Burning
0070AcrylicUtensils of the Extratrerrestrial
0071026AcrylicThe Fragile Edge of Life
0072011AcrylicPandemonium (Part 3, Sea of Fiends)
0073013AcrylicAs The Inside Slides Away
0074004AcrylicThe Last In Line
0075AcrylicMechanics of Misery
0077014AcrylicStates of Disgrace
0078AcrylicBlue Wheel
0079AcrylicWar Paint
0080015AcrylicInto Ether
0081015AcrylicFrom the Resonant Reaches
0082017AcrylicGenesis of Chaos
0084001AcrylicLeftpathred II: The Blood Veil
0085008AcrylicDisassembly of Self
0087012AcrylicThe Plague of Ghosts
0088013AcrylicTraces of Life
0089023AcrylicSullen Hills
0090004AcrylicOn Hallowed Ground
0091004AcrylicThe Fall of Tartarus
0092014AcrylicAelister in Flames
0093001AcrylicLeftpathred VII: Dissecting Darkness
0094001AcrylicLeftpathred V: Anatomie 1
0095019AcrylicThe Seeper Sketches, The Scowering
0096017AcrylicNeedles in the Dark
0097001AcrylicLeftpathred VI: Anatomie 2
0098003AcrylicThe Daedalith
0099010AcrylicFragmentation of Life
0100002AcrylicLeft for Dead
0101022AcrylicHolding On
0103020Acrylic+Nailsthe eXit
0104019AcrylicBare Bones
0105025AcrylicThe Multiverse
0106026AcrylicMy Mourning Star
0107025AcrylicArterial Undertow
0108026AcrylicThe Last Branch
0109015AcrylicPrismatically Dead
0110013AcrylicUnder His Dark Wings
0111004AcrylicLeft of the Murder
0112003AcrylicRuddy Foliage
0113026AcrylicRed Dust Spectrum
0114001AcrylicLeftpathred I: Stalker Weather
0115012AcrylicThe Groaning God
0117031AcrylicThe Fell Phantom
0118015AcrylicFlight of the Shadowsewn
0119007AcrylicJagged Trajectories
0120AcrylicDeep Midnight
0121027AcrylicThe Gargoyle
0124023AcrylicLeave the Burning World Behind
0125023AcrylicThe Barren
0126017AcrylicThe Mind Flayer
0127010AcrylicBroken Water
0128027AcrylicThe Outcast
0129027AcrylicThe Lord of the Fall
0130003AcrylicRise of the Triffids
0132026AcrylicUnder Sanguine Skies
0133AcrylicThe Panic of the Parasites
0135001AcrylicLeftpathred IV: The Cutting Table
0136001AcrylicLeftpathred VIII: Leftpath Red
0137019AcrylicMechanical Malevolence
0138002AcrylicAfter Life
0139010AcrylicPersistence of Virga
0140022AcrylicWaiting for Charon
0141008AcrylicFrom the Prismatic Void
0142004AcrylicGallow’s Grove
0143010AcrylicThe Haunted Vast
0144018AcrylicThe Cutting Room Floor of My Story
0145011AcrylicPandemonium (Part 1)
0146011AcrylicPandemonium (Part 2, Antibiotics) 
0150AcrylicPushed Below
0151031AcrylicEmbers of the Dead
0152010AcrylicCirrus Spissatus
0154017AcrylicBecoming Lucent
0158017AcrylicMacabre Orbits
0159022AcrylicShores of Bliss
0160018AcrylicCardinal Rule
0161AcrylicRemains of the Meltdown
0162023AcrylicDark Horizons
0163028AcrylicSavages VIII
0164018AcrylicRage Through It
0166003AcrylicDandelion Strength
0167022AcrylicAgainst the Tides
0168AcrylicThe Scarab (Right Side)
0169InkThe Scarab (Left Side)
0170015AcrylicDisassociated Waves
0171005AcrylicOut of My Grasp
0172AcrylicDecapitative Streaks
0173031AcrylicInto the Furnace
0175002AcrylicThe Hollowed’s Eve
0176030AcrylicChaos Reigns
0178023AcrylicEchoes of Separation
0179022AcrylicUnknown Cove
0182008AcrylicCity of the Forlorn
0183AcrylicQueen of Decay
0184013AcrylicCacophony of the Damned
0185027AcrylicCadaverous Counsel
0187018AcrylicBloodlines of Earth
0188008AcrylicThe Curse of Beauty
0189022AcrylicThe Golden Shore
0190008AcrylicDowntown Atlantis at Rush Hour
0193002AcrylicThe Wretched
0194031AcrylicEmpire of Abaddon
0195031AcrylicEbola Season
0196033AcrylicCavernhaunt 1
0198033AcrylicGobaelyn 1
0199033AcrylicCavernhaunt 2
0200033AcrylicThe Rack
0201033AcrylicGobaelyn 2
0202033AcrylicThe Harrowing
0203033AcrylicCompanion Dead
0204008AcrylicIn Sickness
0205023AcrylicImpure Crust
0206034AcrylicBlack Blooms
0207034AcrylicDark Folds
0208034AcrylicGold Skies
0213021Book CollageThe Tattered Ends
0214AcrylicOf the Family Tree
0215AcrylicRegents and Revenants