Well, I've passed under the limbo pole without dislodging it or killing my knees. My nose did brush it, making it wobble for sure. For an afternoon, yesterday, it seemed all would fall apart due to a bunch of reasons. Let's just say communication can be challenging.
Here's what's going on. I was approached by a gallery in California that has a relationship with the interior designer of... are you ready for it?
The Hard Rock Hotel.
I'm not sure exactly how, but both he and this gallery had found my website and were interested in my work for one of their hotels in Florida. Lots of rooms. Time crunch. Uhoh. How could I paint so many so quickly?
The lady at the gallery explained that most of these projects use reproductions so every room's decor is the same. Ahh. Ok. But I hadn't liked the idea of reproductions. Hmm. Well, it would be done by a very high quality outfit that I'd actually heard of previously, it would be contractually limited to 23 high-end suites, they would be framed better than I frame them, and they'd be enlarged a bit. Interesting. Kind of pop art-ish. Kind of intriguing. Nice exposure.
Nice exposure indeed. That was what I focussed on, that and the valid connection of context and my work. I mean, the Hard Rock! I'd sent an email to their info@ address a long time ago with, of course, no response at all. They cater directly to my audience. My signature and logo will be on each piece and the concierge will have the gallery's contact information. And the lady said most artists who have participated in projects like this get approached again.
So, do I do it? First of all, I had to do a gut check. Some of you will say this goes against this statement. But I think this project will make me more able to explore my creativity. I started thinking about it and realized that if I were ever going to try reproducing these paintings on vinyl of mine, this would be the best scenario. Their contract definitely protects the artist in the right ways, clearly limiting the scope and size of the project as well as designating responsiblity and copyright ownership. They work with this high quality company and have an impressive list of corporate clients. All that was left were details in order for me to decide yes or no.
Those details almost killed the whole concept. Who I was going to do, on which albums, reproduced with or without the album cover behind were all sticking points.
But, I say strongly to all, it pays to stick up for yourself. If you have a line that if you cross it, you won't like what you see in the mirror, don't do it. And say you won't do it. And say why. Get forceful if you have to, even if you're uncomfortable.
I'm normally a mellow guy. It takes a lot to get a rise out of me, but asking me to compromise my artistic integrity is the wrong thing to do. In the most complicated set of choices possible for the project, legal reasons of the gallery and design choices of the designer led them to propose cropping an album cover image, enlarging the remainder to the size of a normal cover, and digitally superimposing my painted record on top.
They wanted to mess with the original album cover.
The whole point of what I do is to celebrate the art and creativity of the music and its artifact, the record album. The cover is an integral part of that. A lot of creative thought and energy goes into producing an album cover. Artistic careers have been forged from amazing, distinctive cover art. The fact is, I don't own the copyright for the cover art and couldn't even presume to begin thinking about messing with one. Worse still, the part they wanted to eliminate had both the band name and album name in it. You wouldn't even know what album it was anymore. It'd look like they'd stuck a piece of stock photography behind it. Man. Pissed me off.
So I said something, first in an email and then in a phone conversation. I thought that'd be it for the project.
Then, this afternoon, the gallery called and said the designer would go for a different album altogether. A better one, in my opinion, anyway. Wow. I was surprised. This whole thing has been unexpected, and I love the unexpected.
So it's on! The final piece will be a triptych of slightly enlarged, silver-leaf framed portraits with the album cover behind, printed on rag paper. The 3 portraits will be the John Lennon shown in my online gallery on its first row, the Carlos Santana shown above, and a Mariah Carey. Odd grouping, I think. But it is for Florida.
I know this might bother some of you who've kept up with me on this blog. But I've gotta try. I've gotta try in order to fail and learn. This might be a disaster. But then I'll know and I won't try something like this project this way again. With the smallest financial and time cost to me, I'll be afforded the most reputable partners in a project I could've thought to put together to potentially get my art to reach another level of attention. I am trying to take over the world, after all.
I would be interested in your feedback about this, positive or scathing.
SOLD - Santana 01/27/09