— Michael Onona

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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.


The beginning:
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?

 

 

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No 5

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)…..

 

Allegedly.

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the unbearable sadness of being

 

I used to want a library in my home, a gorgeous oak paneled room of intricate carpentry, filled with the tomes of literary genius. Rugs of the finest silks lying upon the richness of an old parquet floor, a Queen Anne leather chair, the glow of a Tiffany lamp, the exquisiteness of an inlaid table and the warmth of a single malt whiskey, and while the gentle aroma from my pipe slowly wafts upwards, the words all take to the stage, a ubiquitous den of sophistication.
But then I realise I’m not Sherlock Holmes, I don’t have a spare room and even though I used the word ubiquitous, I do most of my reading on the toilet.

It really is a strange concept the way we hold onto our books and then display them, we don’t do that with anything else we tend to consume, I have yet to walk into any sane persons home and seen shelves of used cigarette packets or a ‘library room’ of packaging from long eaten meals, ‘that fish pie had such depth to it, so much better than last years lacklustre release’, ‘now if you just go past the pot noodle, the cover so sold it to me, you will see my favourite this year, the alphabet soup, such amazing characters……….And yet, we keep and display the books we’ve consumed.

If you read thrillers, a modern day whodunnit, are you really going to read it again when you know who did it? Or that book on ‘How to pass your driving test’, that was 16 years ago! If you haven’t passed yet, let it slide, let the world sleep safer. The children’s books when your kids have left home, the Winston Churchill biography that took you forever to read or the well thumbed ’50 shades of grey’, are you ever really going to read those books again? Ok keep ’50 shades of grey’.

I’ve always been fiercely protective of my books, although when I’ve finished reading them I tend to lend them to friends, and when they don’t return them I go to the police, are you reading this Karen Montgommery!!? 3 and a half months you’ve had my ’16 and pregnant?’ You’re not 16, and I know your mother! Incidentally the police have never really been helpful, and have threatened to arrest me should I ‘waste’ any more of their ‘valuable’ time, obviously they are not book readers.

As artists we tend to accumulate a lot of things, but do I really need to keep all the reference books I used for some of the animals in my paintings? So I’ve become more ruthless, or thanks to a not very understanding girlfriend I’ve become more ruthless.
I, through therapy, have reassured myself that should I ever need to paint a dog again, in say 20 years time, if the world hasn’t been taken over by hardline muslims and sharia law hasn’t decreed that all books shall be burnt, whereby I shall kick myself, join the resistance and form an underground book club, then I can simply buy another ‘Which dog is for me’.

So now thanks to my library dream stealing girlfriend, my books go to fucking charity.

 

Next week, ‘how to decorate cupcakes while channeling your inner child’.
Another chapter from ‘Declutter your life’ by Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey & me.

PS If I have offended any hardline muslims then I do apologise, and please dont bother, I already have 34 fatwa’s on my head.

PPS If you are not a hardline muslim and anything should happen to me, then you know whodunnit.

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