There is a very British saying ‘ to keep a stiff upper lip’, to be resolute and unemotional in the face of tragedy or adversity. Ask a British person whose world is falling apart, ‘how are you?’ and you will usually hear ‘fine, thank you’.
Postcards from Grace shares our psychological need to tell ourselves and the rest of the world that everything is fine, because the truth out loud may make it more real, the truth out loud may not help us, the truth out loud may just crush us.
Postcards from Grace is about cancer.
When viewed under the microscope this still largely mysterious disease becomes a familiar landscape, in a place you don’t want to be, to the postcards you send, speak without saying, say without telling, these are the postcards from Grace.
Epilogue: As I lie here under this bridge with a shopping cart full of my belongings and my trusty dog toto, I can see the dimming lights of the yellow brick road to fame and fortune, and I think to myself………fucking Kardashians.
I remember the first time the branding of an artist really hit me.
I had gone to see an exhibition of Claude Monet’s ‘water lilies’ at the Tate, and although Monet’s work was never a great influence on me, I couldn’t help but be seduced by Monet the artist. The dedication to his craft, the love of his surroundings and the imposition of light were all beautifully captured upon the vast canvas’s of the’water lily’ paintings, paintings by an artist well into his twilight years.
After an exhibition I like to wander through the gallery shop, but this time my heart sank, here were Monet’s masterpieces stripped and regurgitated like a mad Toys R Us store in an eruption of puzzles, games, bags and stationary, all bearing the ‘water lily’ paintings.
Monet’s blood, sweat and tears had been reduced to a pencil case.
I wept for art that day, for art had lost its meaning, its purity, its soul, for art had become nothing, a commodity, a brand, a brand to sell you a commodity.
Gone were the days of coveting a postcard of your favourite artwork, today ‘like the art?, Buy the hat!’.
The world was changing, I was changing. The mere fact that I was exhibiting and doing interviews meant that, even unknowingly, I too was forming my own brand, but how to take that brand outside the art world? How to make my own star shine brighter, louder, how to make, my own perfume?
I decided to do the most logical thing, I decided to make a sex tape.
It’s not the easiest thing in the world to make a sex tape, for one, there is all the depilation involved. (Word of warning to any men seeking first time hair removal, never go to see a North Korean woman who has just found out her husband is cheating, a baseball bat insertion is apparently not standard procedure) And two, would there be sandwiches?
Stepping out into the midday sun I contemplated the road to fame I was about to travel, but I had dignity, I had pride, I also had a video camera, hairless buttocks, and an address for the Kardashians.
Unfortunately I can’t really tell you what the Kardashians thought about co-staring with me in my sex tape brand extravaganza, due to their tears of uncontrollable laughter, laughter I could still rudely hear over the intercom while being unceremoniously handcuffed into the back of a police car.
Out on bail and with my genius idea sex tape thwarted, I went back to the drawing board and studied what marketeers refer to as USP or what is my Unique Selling Proposition, what makes me different from any other brand or artist out there, what would make the public put their faith and trust in me –
– As an artist by playing with art materials I have a natural affinity with children.
– As an artist I am sometimes introverted, sometimes shy and sometimes socially awkward.
Connecting these key points together laid bare my brand, and there it was, my Unique Selling Proposition, child serial killer.
Realising this could affect my brand of cuddly toys, I needed professional help.
I sold my house, car and furniture and invested my life’s savings into a team of top advertising executives, marketing men and brand analysts.
Taking inspiration from some of the world’s leading brands, we put together an intoxicating mix of the finest in filmmaking and sure fire brand advertising success; cool music, sexy girl next door, stunning cinematography and subtle branding, to create, as you will see below, nothing short of cinematic brand marketing gold.
I can already taste that fame and fortune.
Who’s laughing now Kardashians? Who’s laughing now?
Why is it that I may draw a line on a piece of paper and exhibit it next to an identical line, on an identical piece of paper by Damien Hirst, and while one of us will have a procession of Russian collectors ready to throw roubles, fur coats and wives at him, the other will be lucky to get a discount at ‘Mr Habib’s exotic kebab house’ and only, if I paint his sister.
Why is it that we may choose Coca Cola over Bola Cola (™ Michael Onona) or Apple over, well everything else?
A brand is powerful, companies will spend millions on raising brand awareness for their products, but for us, our art is our product, we are the company, we are the brand. We may not have small fortunes to spend on marketing, but we have an intrinsic value, the brand is us.
From our c.v.’s, statements, social postings and blogs to the way we compose ourselves and treat others, that is our brand, and as we strive to better our product, we should also strive to better the brand. It is not just talent that will bring commercial success, but the support of the brand.
When venture capitalists invest in a business, it is not just the business they look into, but the people behind the business, and so it is with art, art collectors don’t just look at the artwork, but an investment in the person behind the artwork, the brand.
It is not as if we make anything that anyone needs, who actually needs a 12 foot tiger shark incased in formaldehyde in their living room?
Mr Hirst has publicly attributed his shark piece and brand success to drinking Bola Cola (™ Michael Onona)…..