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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What A (Re)Production!

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


Corky Mc said...

I'm glad you were able to work out the details. Too often I have heard of artists who refused to budge and ended up shooting themselves in the foot at just the wrong time. I have a songwriter friend whose sole claim to fame is an obscure song on a Kenny Loggins album. He could have gone places, but he chose to remain "true" to his art and would never rework any of his songs to satisfy producers. This guy was truly talented, but relegated himself to obscurity - and relative poverty - by refusing to ever strike a balance. So congratulations for making your concerns known and then being flexible enough to give this a shot. Hope it works out the way you envision it.

Eolai said...

It all sounds good to me, the opportunity, the setting, but mostly the process of how you've arrived at what the project will be. It can be a real shame when a significant breakthrough happens only to be then undermined by discovering you have to cross a line that's almost invisible to others but is the edge of the world to you - and you haven't done that. I say well done! And good luck!

Anonymous said...

What strikes me is the consistency between your personality and your artwork. There is great integrity in both.

True success is not measured by a bank balance, but by the joy you bring to others and the person looking back at you from the mirror.

Your talent is too great not to be noticed. Your authenticity and integrity make your works rise above the media and the concept and become significant (in the sense that they truly touch people in a lasting and affirming way).

You're right about wanting to fail and learn. To avoid risks is to start laying down to die. Keep taking risks, keep staying true to yourself and your art. People will be drawn to it because of the pieces of you that inhabit it.

You won't have to take over the world... You're reinventing it.

I wish you a heartfelt Congratulations!

Ash said...

well i'm with you on preserving the originality of the album covers besides would hard rock or the gallery even know what they're getting into by messing w/ it. but i 'm glad you were able to communicate your concerns. i think it's a fine project and could really help promote you and your work which is always a positive for an artist. Bravo!

Sarah Marie Lacy said...

(Warning: This is going to be the least thoughtful/intelligent comment you've gotten so far.)

This is amazing! Completely amazing. I am doing jumping jacks for you, that's how excited I am.

And the fact that you stood up for what you wanted - brilliant! Amazing! I'm ridiculously inspired and so intensely happy for you. I think this is an awesome opportunity for your art to be seen, because hey, your art is amazing. I've now also said amazing one too many times.

I'm just so thrilled for you. If your gut says it's right, then I say all the power to you. No scathing comments here :)

Mary Anne Davis said...

Nice. Working the edge between business and art, tricky at best, but a must do if you are serious about making a living as an artist. Way to go, Daniel! Hard ball at the Hard Rock! Hope this is the start of a beautiful relationship and they buy rights or have you do original pieces for the Cafe! :)

John T Unger said...

Serious congrats are in order Daniel! You rock.

Balancing art with corporate buying procedures and needs is pretty tricky most of the time but it's definitely worth it. Sounds like you were working with good people!

Sonia Simone | Remarkable Communication said...

Man, this is really cool! I love the idea of your stuff in the Hard Rock Hotel (although at first I had a brainzap and thought you meant the W hotel, which actually would also be great for you).

If it's about getting your coolness into the eyeballs of your fellow humans (that's how it seems to me), then this is a wonderful project. And I'm really glad you could come to agreement on the details.

m said...

Checked in to see if you'd posted your big news. And of course you had and it is big indeed. Congratulations. I'm a fairly new reader (commented before on your post questioning doing reproductions) so I don't have that history of your work and approach, but honestly I can't believe you had thoughts of *not* doing it (other than the messing with the original art issue which I do understand). I see no shame or harm in reproducing your own work. Good for you!! I think this would be an exciting opportunity for any artist. Congrats again, very happy for you.

Goat said...

From a music lover, I'd really think that Hard Rock cheesed out by changing the artwork of a great album. Album art is what vinyl is all about! Ok, maybe it's half of what it's all about, the other half, is of course drippy analog goodness... I'm super happy that you're going to be shown at the Hard Rock Hotel! If I were to go into one of those rooms, I'm sure I'd be just as blown away seeing the reprint as I was the first time I saw your vinyl art.

Seriously happy for you! This is HUGE!