A curious thing happened when I started getting better known as an artist…I stopped winning art prizes and started collecting participation awards!
The tall poppy syndrome…it happens everywhere. As a young and up-and-coming artist I achieved things that are now the stuff of memories……Being middle aged and better known is not an advantage!
I increasingly notice that good-looking young people in smart suits/skimpy dresses posed next to indifferent art is what it takes to get followers and attention on Instagram. Having judged a few art prizes over the years – everything from the Camberwell to the National Equine Art Prize – I take pride in focusing on the merit of the artwork rather than the signature attached. However it is human nature to support the new, relatively unknown and undoubtedly struggling young artist compared to the more established (but probably still struggling!) better known artists.
There is another thing at work here too….how do you get noticed if you are talented but starting out? These days there is so much focus on image and being different that often the art is secondary. Listening to Lady GaGa in the remake of ‘A Star is Born’ I realised that she is much more than the outlandish outfits she wears…she is a serious talent. But her outfits were what it took to get her noticed…without them she may never had got the profile that her talent deserves. Art in any form is a hard way to make a living, and you have to have a point of difference to get attention. So it’s hardly surprising that people use their looks to assist the process if they can. For the rest of us that look more like our Aunt Mildred, social media can be a hindrance rather than a help….
I am currently toying with the idea of an experimental name change – should I become a female and attach a small price to one of my paintings to see what happens? Indeed lately I have posed my gorgeous blonde daughter next to a couple of my finished works to post on Instagram. Tilly is much easier on the eye than a balding old fart, and that might just make the difference between feast and famine!