Blurb Staff Pick: Be Yourself
April 16, 2008, New York City:
Scratching Beneath The Surface: Thoughts on Necessary Evils, Like The Art of Marketing (Art)
The series of ten screenshots and diptychs I am sharing here were created to give thanks and praise to all the journalists, friends and bloggers who have been kind enough to mention my new book, 25 Lessons thus far.
In particular, I want to thank four people including Rob Walker, "Consumed" columnist for The New York Times Magazine; Beth Jannery, a dear friend and author of Simple Grace; the staff at Blurb; as well as Margaret Lenartowicz, who writes her image rich and lyrically beautiful text&body blog from London.
Rob Walker examines consumer behavior in his weekly “Consumed” column in the Sunday New York Times Magazine and recently posted a congrats edition regarding the publication of 25 Lessons on his insightful Murketing blog. He also has a book coming out in June from Random House entitled Buying In, The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are. If you regularly read his weekly column as I do, you know that this book is bound to be an instant best seller.
This last Sunday he wrote about how Barack Obama camp’s has created a strong bond with artists, and how the association has not only given a boost to Obama’s campaign, but has also helped promote those artists who have “freely” given their work in support of this popular presidential candidate.
For more information on Rob and his work visit www.robwalker.net/.
Besides, being a great friend, Beth Jannery is author of a inspiring book called Simple Grace: Living a Meaningful Life, an amazing motivational speaker, Ms. Virginia America and a former Ms. Connecticut America. You can read more about her and her inspiring work here: www.bethjannery.com/
Moreover, she is a warm and wonderful host of rejuvenating artist retreats. She hosted the first one last December at Elihu Island, off of Stonnington, CT. Read about our grand adventure here: The Retreat. I am eagerly looking forward to the next one.
Margaret Lenartowicz is a wonderful poet, blogger, and photography aesthete based out of London. I look to her blog, text&body, whenever I need a bit of insight and inspiration. She has a great feel, eye and mind for art, design, verse, and photography, which she chronicles regularly in her online scrapbook.
The staff at blurb recently chose my second publication Be Yourself as a Staff Pick. And earlier last week, blurb blogger Alice wrote a flattering entry about 25 Lessons being www.blurb.com/bookstore/popular
As some of you may recognize, those words kick off the long-running comedy show Saturday Night Live (SNL) every weekend, and is broadcast out of my hometown, New York City. Thus, I couldn’t be more honored.
I’m especially tickled by this tribute because, although, like many other writers I often fantasize about getting that golden ticket – a plug by Oprah! and her book club – as an artist and a New Yorker my fantasy has also long been to host SNL.
In her entry, Alice asks, “How did Lorenzo’s book become a Blurb best seller so quickly?” She concludes “For one thing, he’s absolutely marketing the hell out of this book. Check out his site and his Flickr account to see how he does it. He has book promotion down to a science.”
Although I’d love to think that the merit of my work alone convinced people to make the purchase, I can’t help but agree with Alice. Because after 20 years of experience in marketing and communications, I firmly believe that a well-planned marketing campaign has indeed played an all-important role in generating interest in 25 Lessons.
Alas, even than, sometimes it seems that the only way you can get people’s attention is when you flash a pair of breasts (16,000 hits), (a half-naked cowgirl (20,000 hits), a barely-clad woman or a Victoria’s Secret model before them.
Hence, the truism that every good salesman knows, SEX SELLS—anything and everything.
Hence, the reason that my all-time most popular photo (with 22,000 views) is of an old man getting a "blow-job" at Port Authority bus terminal.
Hence, the fact that I posted 11 new images at midnight a little more than a day ago and combined they have had a measly 345 views. And then, I posted “25 Subliminal Lessons,” a purposefully more salacious subliminal image, and within a few hours I will likely surpass the cumulative total of all the other photos.
Of course, this proof of concept, this Pavlovian manipulation of the masses, this testosterone-abetted truism is moot considering that very few people actually read what I write. Which is wholly understood, since this is a photography (oh, uh, excuse me, and video) site after all.
Moreover, philosophically speaking, I believe that any successful endeavor designed for public consumption requires a balance between Surface and Substance.
In other words, you can create the greatest product in the world, be it a play, a book, a movie or performance, but unless you make an effort to tell people about it, it will surely end up getting lost amongst the fray or thrown upon the heap of millions of other pieces of work created daily by aspiring artists, writers and photographers from around the world.
Of course, as I’ve written many times before (see What Art Means to Me), ultimately, what matters most is that as a true artist, as one who is follows his true calling, you continue to create regardless of who blogs about or buys your work.
However, that said, it sure would be nice to pay all the bills with the sale of a few photos and books every now and then. Alas, as much as hosting SNL or being Oprah’s author du jour remains merely a fantasy for now, being an aspiring, yet starving, “artist” will have to suffice as my raison d’être, at least, for now.
Which, is why, once again, making an effort to market your work becomes so important. Because as thrilling as it may seem, no one really wants to remain a bohemian artist for all too long.
Albeit, many people mistakenly consider Machiavelli to be a conniving advocate of dirty politics, for those who have actually read his treatise, The Prince, you’d know that it actually provides some sage advice on leadership.
In particular, I have long been inspired by a few passages that I believe, for me, make Machiavelli the father of marketing. He wrote:
“...merciful, faithful, humane, forthright, and religious...it is not necessary for a prince to have all of the above-mentioned qualities, but it is very necessary for him to appear to have them...having them and practicing them at all times is harmful; and appearing to have them is useful.”
“...men in general judge more by their eyes than their hands; for everyone can see but few can feel. Everyone sees what you seem to be, few perceive what you are, and those few do not dare to contradict the opinion of the many who have the majesty of the state to defend them.”
Unfortunately, words like these have long been taken out of context and thus may seemingly suggest a strategy of deception at first glance.
However, if one reads the book you’d find that he felt that leaders should strive to serve their people well by being wiling and able to lead – to make tough decisions, to make sacrifices when necessary for the greater good, and to convince others that “Yes! You can,” even if one is not really yet able.
It is important to understand that the latter piece of advice is often vital to success, because the ability to accomplish something often comes with the support of others.
Alas, all too often, you can’t get the support of others unless you are first “able,” which occasionally means convincing some of that you already possess certain qualities, when, in reality, you are actually merely in the process of attaining them.
Comedy superstar Steve Martin, who like many successful comedians before and after him, happened to launch his career by yelling "Live From New York It’s...Saturday Night!”, once lamented in an interview in Publishers Weekly that his life “….moves in cycles. Creativity and promotion.” In other words, in order to make a living by one’s art, one cannot survive without the other.
Hence, artists entertain daunting interviews with the press, beg for plugs from bloggers, and even create Warholesque prints for poplar presidential candidates, if only to get a little more air time themselves…
Read what the consummate pundit on the art of marketing, Rob Walker, has to say about this in his latest piece: The Art of Politics.
This musing is featured at The Art of Living.
Check out the Best Seller 25 Lessons: The Art of Living
2008 HP Be Brilliant Featured Artist