Ruminations on “The Experience Economy” What’s The Buzz About?

I live with a wonderful man, to whom I have been married for 27 roller coaster, fantastic years. It’s been an experience!

 

In Canada 1985, young love.... 

In Canada 1985, young love.... 

Wedding Day, July 5, 1986

Wedding Day, July 5, 1986

I refer to him as my tech god AKA The Big Cheese. Without him, I would have no presence on the internet, no website, no blog, no FB, nada because to be truthful, it makes me crazy doing all of this stuff and he walks me through it when I hit a wall. I find it time-consuming, frustrating and sometimes darn near impossible to navigate. He works in advertising; started out in traditional: magazines, television commercials, etc. then made a wise move in the 90’s into digital, and some years ago, into social media. I have listened avidly to his suggestions as pertaining to my career because he is up-to-date on everything to do with marketing; I even believe that he is downright visionary. He has never been wrong and he is always ahead of the game. But, as an artist, many marketing suggestions he has- and others have- given me haven’t panned out successfully because they were not right for ME. Certainly, I agree that art IS a commodity, and at no time more so than in an age of fewer and fewer patrons as were had in the past. We DO have to sell work in order to survive! Unfortunately, the value is often not placed on the artist or the work itself but on the perceived value of the piece and its false escalation in a manufactured value market, or on its generic popularity.

Consumers are going through a fundamental change with regard to commodities. Again. From agrarian, to industrial, to service to…..experience. Joseph Pine outlines this in his TED talk http://www.ted.com/talks/joseph_pine_on_what_consumers_want.html He states that Authenticity is becoming the basis of this new economy. Businesses need to render authenticity in order to succeed in the marketplace today.

RENDER AUTHENTICITY….What exactly does this mean? What impact does this have on us artists?

Designing with truth and integrity for a particular person or group creates a positive experience for all. This idea resonates with me in a very big way. Creating artwork is an experience for me, most certainly, and becomes an experience for those who appreciate my work AS IT IS. Not as it will match a sofa, nor as it will be easily identified and commodified, not as a speculative investment, not as another cutesy DIY thing that adds more useless stuff to the environment but as real as a real owl: observant, keen and attentive. Authentic. The real deal. OUR vision, not a manufactured, copied vision.

I am thinking about this: How can I expand on that positive experience I feel I create so that my viewer is also satisfied with the authenticity, resulting in my work selling more? How can I create a good experience for those looking at my work and considering purchasing it so they will finalize a sale, maybe even become collectors? As Joseph points out, compliments of a quote from Shakespeare’s Polonius’

 

Polonius

Polonius

To thine own self be true

and

BE authentic

Don’t SAY you are authentic

If you SAY you are authentic, you'd better BE authentic

I know others in our field are thinking about this. Esteemed, talented and successful artist Harriete Estel Berman says she is going to outline more on this experience economy in her post Sacred Cow, Purple Cow, Cash Cow on her blog soon at http://askharriete.typepad.com/ask_harriete/2013/07/the-experience-economy-is-growing.html so stay tuned to it to see what she has to say.

I am eager to see how her take and mine might converge…and maybe even where they might differ. Her recent blog post introducing the topic is focused pretty literally on the actual commercial/social experience rather than the integrity/authenticity aspect Joseph outlines. I believe that Joseph is saying something more than create an experience for the public and they will come. He is calling for fundamental change.

Or, am I missing the boat? Is it just about being authentic with your product for marketing purposes, or as a maker, too?