“The full monty“ is a British slang phrase of uncertain origin. It is generally used to mean “everything which is necessary, appropriate, or possible; ‘the works’”. It has been in common usage in the north of England at least since the early 1980s. A US equivalent might be the phrase “the whole nine yards”, “the whole ball of wax”, “the whole enchilada”, “the whole shebang” or “the whole hog”.
See what I’m talking about here is “The Full Monty” in the context of Art.
These days, say, since 2007/8 where the mass of the population signed up to the likes of Facebook, and in 2011/12 the rise of the business pages artists have found themselves looking increasingly & in some case exclusively, to these social media platforms as a way to get work exposure, popularity and ideally sales. The initial burn of the 2011/12 “I like you, like me back” culture is thankfully fading as people realize the futile nature of that path… well slowly. Ha ha ha
Trouble is the procedure of sharing your new work on these platforms really only translates to ‘likes’, maybe a comment, maybe a share. All good things I don’t dispute as a ‘like’ will show up in extended circles thus leading to potential new page ‘likers’ or fans bla bla bla…. Hell maybe even a sale if the buzz is that good.
But what we are feeding and cultivating is this is how art is consumed and digested by the general populous, and if our goal is to get that massive 97% of people that have never bought original art or will likely ever go to an opening or into commercial gallery, to get those people into buying art, sharing all your work on Facebook is not the way to do it. If anything its vastly detrimental.
The first thing artists do at a exhibition is take a photo of their display. At the market stall they take a shot of the set up. Uploaded, the come and see me plea.. Well if I have seen everything where is the impetus to go? There is no surprise left. I have already seen all your work anyway. (Well that is debatable as only a tiny fraction, say 15%, of your page fans will see your average post so chances are they missed your last 3 paintings).
The excitement an artist feels when they complete a new work is immense. And naturally you want to instantly share this with everyone you know, through social media we can do that. Getting that picture back from the framer is such a joy. And the next day waking up and seeing your new fine work hanging on the wall. The winter sun highlighting a color you get to see for the first time. Its all amazing.
So its photographed and shared.
And if it makes it through the post restrictions and filtering maybe you reach a fifth of your audience. Maybe out of that 100 a couple likes, maybe a couple comments.
And then its flat. Later that afternoon, even 20 minutes later its old news.
But later that week, even month, your room is still fresh with the wood stain smell. The picture has revealed new dimensions, even to you the creator. So you gonna share it again? How does that passion translate to the digital world. Re-share?
As artists we need to stop with the Full Monty. We need to give a teaser, a seductive glimpse of whats available. We need to give the viewer a reason to get off Facebook and onto that webpage you spent a LOT of money on, the web page you spend a LOT of time updating.
Then they will see not only your new work that you are sooooo stoked about, but the picture you did last week that they never even saw. The picture you did last summer which you still have.
Stop giving it all away.
Then you might see more interaction, more excitement around your opening. More reason to visit your market, your pop up shop. More of the same excitement you felt when that new work was completed.
It goes against the grain of how things are done. I know. And why change, everyone else does it this way, and it works for some. What I am saying is we need to think bigger picture here. We are trying to change a ingrained cultural set of patterns and programs. Its huge. It is a problem. And the starting point of turning this ship around is by not revealing your hand straight off the bat.
Create some mystery damn it.