Ralph Ziman at Cave Gallery @cavegalleryphotos (at C.A.V.E Gallery)
I’ve been turned onto many organizations doing incredible work in the non-profit space over the past few months and have made a decision to be a much more active participant in this space. My whole Christmas theme was about donating to others in need; kids, women, animals, the environment, etc.
I went to a Social Good panel organized by DigitalLA a while back and met the Co-Founder of Causora, struck up a friendship and now Camilla is the first fine artist on their site. The launch of Camilla’s Causora page has already seen donations to various charities, as people can redeem their $20 for a special bundle of prints exclusively for the Causora platform.
Causora is an online One-for-One giving platform that rewards your donations to Non-Profit Organizations. Causora raises awareness for NPO’s and global relief efforts by allowing you to Browse Causes or fundraise for one yourself. Give $20 to a worthy cause, get $20 reward redeemable from Causora merchants. Causora aids over 150 NPOs such as Red Cross, Earthworks, Habitat for Humanity, and many more.
Giving Through Camilla Artwork
In 2013, Camilla’s Charity Print Initiative raised and donated over $1,800 to NPOs likeSeattle Children’s Hospital, Walking for Lions, Ian Somerhalder Foundation, and more. Charity Print collectors saw 50% print proceeds go to help organizations Camilla feels strongly about, and now with Causora people can receive print rewards for donating to causes they love too - on the Causora platform.
Giving is the theme of Christmas, of this “season”. It’s equally balanced out by the receiving. What do I want? What do I want to receive from someone, asking them to spend their money on me? While I’m not trying to be rude or ungrateful, I really, truly, genuinely don’t want anything!
I’ve been going through the same dance for years with my parents: “what do you want?”, “nothing”, I reply. “You can’t have nothing”, so on and so forth. Christmas is our family’s favorite holiday where the unwrapping of gifts and the joy that brought has always been the best part. I’ve been ‘home for Christmas’ 4 or 5 times out of the past 13 years and those Christmases were always extra special, and extra costly in baggage fees.
This year, however, something changed. Though I’ve been an active volunteer, donated time and money to various causes and charities for many years, I had not previously thought to make charitable giving the gift I “wanted” from others. I’ve asked my friends and family that want to get me something, to donate to a charity instead. It can be one of the ones I support, a new one, or one that they support. It can be local or on the other side of the World.
For example, I “got” a young boy in the Bronx a hat he asked for with a plattatterpus on it (that IS the correct spelling - his adorable spelling) through Hatcho’s giving back program called Make for Good. My gifts also went to animal/pet rescue groups like CARA, and to environmental and conservationist organizations. There are also hundreds of speciality retailers that have giving back programs, where portions of sales revenues are donated to charities. Find these commerce sites and shops and help them help others! Here are a couple that I’ve had my eye on and supported: Hendricks Boards and Maiden Nation. And if you just don’t know what to donate to and you must have something back, check out Causora where you get a dollar for dollar back through various vendors.
This act of giving through others has made me very happy; I feel like Christmas has a meaning again. It’s compassion, empathy, caring and taking action - even a small step - towards helping other people, protecting our planet and saving helpless or suffering animals. So if anyone wants to give me a gift, you can give a gift to a child in need, or a rescue organization or community organization or food bank - for me, from me. And from you. I guarantee that it’ll be the best gift you could give me and I’ll make sure I nominate you for a #goodyawards!
Zag is a great book by Marty Neumeier (also read “The Brand Gap”) about brands, and what you can do to make your brand stand out for long term success. I give artists a recap of how the principles of Zag can be interpreted for your own success:
Even though the book was written for Brands - businesses and companies selling products or services, it is very relevant for artists and creatives because at the end of the day, you are marketing yourselves as a Brand. An artist IS a Brand. You have to think that way, because that’s how you will achieve success on any level, and especially on the commercial level. You have to know how the market and businesses and consumers think, so that you can speak on their terms and do business with them.
A brand is a reputation. It’s what others think of you, how they perceive you, and what they say about you. More than ever, your brand is what people say about you when you are not around! It is largely out of your control - the best you can do is influence it. The good news is that for an artist, this is easier than for a corporate brand. You are much more in control of, and able to influence, your ‘brand’. You also have a leg up because art has an immediate, visceral reaction whereas a company has to employ departments of people just so their ‘brand’ gets a reaction and can start being seen as a brand at all - and not just a product or service. Art has emotion. It is an Emotional Brand.
Back to the book: There’s lots of great information, and though it goes into detail about communicating brand, the main point of the book is that for a brand to succeed, it must be radically different. Radical differentiation. How true is this for artists? Very but with a caveat from my own experience and observation - radically different doesn’t mean shocking, tasteless, gimmicky, or flashy. Radical doesn’t mean “out there for the sake of being radical”.
I agree with the author that the marketplace (our world) is too cluttered, especially in today’s social media, social network, instant commenting and blogging world. The clutter, as defined by Neumeier is: Product Clutter, Feature Clutter, Advertising Clutter, Message Clutter and Media Clutter.
There are more choices than we can handle - products and services are all similar, there are tons of copy-cats, and there’s always a tendency to complicate products, to add stuff to them. There is marketing beyond what our brains can process, and more channels than ever where brands can ‘market’ to us. There’s tons of noise out there and it makes it harder to make the ‘right’ choice, and in my view, makes us all ‘skimmers’ just so we can try to cut through the crap and get to the bottom of what’s out there and whether we like it, need it, or even want it.
Takeaways from the book:
1. Find the White Space. Also, You can’t be a leader if you’re following the leader. You must find the space in between the others, where you can differentiate yourself. Artists will understand the white space analogy better than anyone! It’s crucial to know what’s already out there, who the leaders and followers are. Go where others aren’t already. You have to find the ‘white space’, just like the negative space that artists are trained to look for. Do this for your art, do something that isn’t currently out there. Do it well.
2. Get in front of the parade. In other words, identify trends and get in front of them. You have to know what’s going on out there, whichever area or niche or market you want to be in. Ride the wave of trends, to help push you forward. This means being aware of trends, and to some degree, trying to anticipate the next ones. It’s definitely important for artists - apart from the obvious ones like color trends, fashion trends, design trends - you should also make note of trends in society, culture, consumer behavior, pop culture, and technology.
I highly recommend that all artists who are serious about becoming commercially known and successful get into the mindset of creating and promoting themselves as brands. Identify your brand, and while you’re at it, identify your Emotional Brand. It isn’t as technical as it sounds, but getting into that way of thinking will help shape your choices and your communication to the outside world - ultimately - your Brand and what people think of you.
I was privileged to go to the LACMA preview night opening for the Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic, show. After seeing Calder with far too many people that night, it’s an exhibition I will go back to at least once before it closes July 2014. We weren’t allowed to take photos, and these photos I have are from a KCRW newsletter covering arts and culture in LA that came out after the preview. Yet, still, they cannot do the show justice. GO SEE IT IN PERSON!
I had heard of Calder and even seen his work, but I didn’t know what I was about to experience when we went to the opening. His ‘sculptural mobiles’ are mysteriously perfect in their abstraction, natural in their metallic shapes, and evoke harmony and wonder.
The exhibition was curated with pure love and respect and you can feel it as you walk around the displays that are so perfectly in sync with the sculptures they are subtly yet insistently installation design was done by Frank Gehry (of course!).
They are hanging, sometimes precarious, always perfect objects for wakeful art meditation. I stood in front of a few of the mobiles in a near-trance despite being surrounded by so many people, and felt like there was nothing but me and the mobiles. Art can transport me to a meditative state of pure bliss and I wonder, what is it about beauty and form that affects our emotions, that causes contemplation, poetry, and harmony? What are your experiences when viewing art?
A couple of posts ago I introduced "Mindful Marketing", which is the method I use when consulting clients on the most effective way to self-promote and do marketing, especially online marketing.
Mindful Marketing comes from my personal interest and self-work using mindfulness techniques. Mindfulness can go far beyond meditation and thought awareness. You don’t have to be a yogi or sit under a tree for this to work for you.
Mindfulness can be applied to everything because in its simplest form, mindfulness means paying attention. And whenever we pay attention, give our full attention, and place intense focus on what we do, the results are always superior. In business, sports or any other achievement oriented discipline it is called FOCUS.
How does this apply to online marketing and personal promotion? First of all, marketing for non-marketing professionals is as enjoyable as leg waxing and it’s often confusing and overwhelming. More than ever, thanks to social media and social networks, everyone is expected to promote themselves and “do” online marketing. I know, I can hear the sighs of submission and surrender …
With marketing added to the list of “to dos”, it will get very little TLM (Tender Loving Mindfulness). It has become one of those things we do because we ‘have to’. And so we set out to go through the motions of online or social media marketing. And since there are a zillion lists of “top 5 ways to market yourself online” or “The 10 things that will get you noticed online”, and so on, a common thought is that if we just do those things, we cast a wide net, get seen, get noticed and we’ll see results.
The truth, unfortunately, is that effort and intent is equal to results. When your online marketing efforts are done under the halo of ‘must do’ and follow-the-list, getting that list ticked off as quickly as possible, or with as much automation as possible - all without mindfulness, you will not get the positive results you want.
The emotional connection and physical reaction to the “must do’s” immediately takes us out of the doing space, out of the focused concentration and out of the intent space. That nagging, icky, stress-inducing feeling follows us through every click and every word typed and we want to move on to more interesting things - now!
Here is an example: You know you are “supposed” to post two weekly updates to Facebook, so you set a reminder in your calendar that pings you to do it on Tuesday and Thursday. You set it and forget it - until you get the reminder. Since you’re probably in the middle of something when the reminder pops up you are instantly annoyed, snooze the reminder until you can’t take it anymore then begrudgingly open Facebook and stare blankly, wondering what to write. You then get lost in the Facebook vortex for 90 minutes, shake yourself out of it, and when you come back to your senses, realise that you still haven’t done your posting. So you might post something quickly, without really thinking about what you’re posting, saying a little prayer that you’ll get a few likes, and move on to something else. Tick! Crossed today’s marketing off the list! But, when you don’t get many reactions (because the ego will want to check back often, feeling proud of having ‘done the task’) you get angry, disappointed and dejected. Why bother posting on Thursday then? This doesn’t work. I should just buy an ad …
Instead of that, how about planning out your posts? Having an editorial calendar, a list of topics, a few quotes or articles you’ve collected, that you find interesting and think your audience would to? Even without that, how about sitting for 10 minutes mindfully thinking about who you are, what your brand is, what you want to communicate, who your audience is, and what you want to give them? Write something that resonates with you, that you are proud to put out there. And while you’re on the social network, why not spend another ten minutes finding interesting people, adding your own comments to their posts, sharing and being a good community member? Spend those 10-20 minutes mindfully: don’t think about anything other than making the most of your time there, and trying to reach out to people, establishing connections, and building an audience of like-minded souls?
If we do something for the wrong reasons, we are by default focused on the wrong thing. Getting through the list is the wrong thing. The right thing is to focus on the task at hand and the desired outcome, to do one thing at a time mindfully, to understand each step, why you are doing it and whether it is even something you need to do at all! This is Mindful Marketing. This is why Mindful Marketing is the method of succeeding. And it’s entirely up to you, you are in control, you are accountable - and you can do it!