Keep your clothes on
Ever since we started producing visual imagery for promotion and advertising, the human body has been used to capture people’s attention. But is it just me, or has that become something where the less clothed the human is - no matter what the ware being promoted - the better? It honestly pains me when I’m scrolling through feeds on social media and I see half-naked artists posing next to their work. I just don’t get it. I do get that a photo that includes something more personal, or a shot of the artist at work every now and then is interesting. People love to be able to “see the artist at work,” and to get an insight into who the person is behind the images. But I just don’t get the whole “let’s get naked to draw attention to our work” thing. Especially because that particular theme seems to have been overdone so much within the art world.
Sometimes, depending on the time of day, the weather, and if I am alone or not, I may well be in my studio with not much on. But I have to say that it would never cross my mind to do a selfie whilst in that attire! And I honestly don’t think I could take myself seriously if I started staging photos of myself being scantily clad next to my work. Call me prude or old fashioned, but I do believe that if your subject has nothing to do with the human body or nakedness then it’s best to keep your clothes on, no matter how much you want your art to be noticed. If you want your work - rather than your physical attributes - to be recognised, then I’m a firm believer in letting your art reveal what you want to communicate visually to others.
You are far more likely to find out if your art is worth anything, and if people truly appreciate it by exhibiting it as it is on a variety of platforms rather than hankering for virtual attention from strangers on the internet. The artist’s persona, quirks, character and individualities cannot be separated from the work they produce. Making and showing art is already hugely personal and revealing, and it saddens me to see that the current trend of selling one’s half-clothed physical image has spread into the art scene as much as it has other domains. Where are we headed if the success or value of a piece of art is based on the looks of the person who made it?
Having recently made a start at curating artists’ work for a gallery space that I have opened, I now spend a lot of time researching and following up on work that interests me. I honestly could not care less what the artist looks like, but am frankly put off by the artists who, no matter how much I may like and admire their work, have flaunted themselves all over the internet. I lose interest when an artist tries to sell me their image over their art. It often allows for what I am beginning to call “fake art”: uninteresting and unoriginal artwork, very often accompanied by lack of technical knowhow or substance. The importance is placed on the artist’s image and how far they are prepared to go to get “likes”, “followers” and notoriety. What they are actually calling their art is their accessory for the production of their chosen self-image. As an artist, I would rather never sell another painting again in my lifetime than resort to undressing for my public. And as a curator, I am not about to show the work of artists that are prepared to sell their body and soul to me, or their potential public, for the sake of an exhibition.