How much would you pay for success?

Got into an interesting conversation yesterday with someone who has retired from a career of being in the marketing and promotion and logo-design business. We got to yakking about how hard it is, in general, to convince people that “art” is valuable.

So as we were talking – he told me of a life-time of pitching advertising campaigns to business owners who, in his words, “acted like I was costing them money.” He went on to explain that he had spearheaded re-branding projects for companies that literally had turned them from money losers to big, successful corporations (you would recognize the names if I told you). And the campaigns had run in the thousands of dollars (less than ten) – and returned millions many times over.

The phrase stopped me cold, so I’ll repeat it. “They acted as if the advertising/logo/branding was going to cost them money.” 

Except that’s exactly what makes you money – people remembering your name, knowing who you are and what you do, and coming to you when they need your product or service.

If you are new to making jewelry – you may not have yet
run into the phenomenon of people not valuing your work. If you have
been at it awhile, and maybe have tried making jewelry for sale – you
will eventually run into people who think that your time and creativity
have no value.

We live in a culture that deliberately devalues art and creativity –
from stereotyping the “starving artist” to turning school art programs
into time-killing and time-wasting afterthoughts. Art is a low-status career – ever hear of an important and powerful wedding photographer?

I don’t have a solution for this – I just thought I would mention this as something to think about. I don’t think it’s right – but it’s so deeply entrenched – I don’t know how you would change it.


  1. Having been on the both sides of the coin, I can appreciate people's comments on both.

    Yes, it seems like our current society (unlike the great Renaissance period) puts no value on art… however, I believe no society ever put a great emphasis on art. It just seems so in hindsight (quite the same with how artists suddenly raise in value after they are unable to create anymore).

    Yes, many small business owners will be hard to persuade to spend money on something they see quite useless or needed too much investment (marketing / branding). But that's also because they really don't have that type of money…

    There is a vicious circle there: w/o a brand you can't get out of a certain level (hence not make any more money than X), however unless you find some serious money you won't be able to create your brand to market it!

    Unlike mathematics and other exact science subjects – art is very subjective: what seems art to me will seem trash to someone else and vice versa. You can't define the rules of art and measure everyone by those rules. That's why it's hard to put some value on it…

    That's why in art making we run into all sort of prices: from people who consider it a hobby and want the raw material price in return only (plus some coffee change) to the ones that make a paying job out of it and they need to be paid for all the time / materials / elements included in making one piece of art.

    To answer the question towards the end: yes, there are some powerful photographers out there too, with outrageous prices (not in a bad sense!) – they won't consider themselves 'wedding photographers', but they'll take some few special weddings too ๐Ÿ™‚ The way they'll present themselves to the world is 'artists' and that's the first step in any art-related area: how are you presenting yourself? The image youโ€™re projecting is the one that will rule your business.

    I truly believe we can change those stereotypes one image at a time. It'll take lots of time, though ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Liz

    Interesting post coincident with a CBC radio program on the subject of advertising – Age of Persuasion, The podcast should be up in a few days. While I would never dispute the value of branding and logo art, when it comes to advertising, I often question it's value. In my previous non-jewelry related business, I spent almost nothing on advertising as most of my business came from word of mouth (often incented) and I really do think that the best kind of promotion. This radio program listed a number of companies and how they got started – some funded with credit cards – and how large they've become with NO advertising: Soduko puzzles, Costco, LuluLemon, Ferrari (!), and the Body Shop. Definitely worth a listen.

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