Art in Commerce

I often get questions or suggestions from friends and family regarding my work. Usually it refers to some kind of photo show, call for entries or a contest. “You should enter/show/submit your work for this!” Then I have to explain to them the focus of my work isn’t really fine art, it’s commercial.

Then I started to think about it. Is it truly 100% commercial? Not really. That would imply that its only worth is to convey the essence of the product or brand that it represents. That’s not quite what I’m trying to accomplish. Without going deep into the whole emotional branding concept, what I want to achieve is a balance of communication and emotional response with my photos. So, essentially, I want to create art.

Is this approach any different from that of a fine artist? Not really. Is art created in the name of commerce worth less than art created solely for the purpose of art? Why is it that when the line gets crossed artists on both sides become so critical?

Art in commerce is nothing new — think Warhol here — and yet the controversy over what qualifies as true art is still burning. Take the new digital media into consideration and you’ve got an inferno.

To my point: If you discovered a photo/painting/etching/poem/prose that really spoke to you on a deep level and then later found out it was created for Apple or AT&T or Microsoft, would you feel somehow cheated? Or, when viewing photos at MoPA and learning that they were all shot in digital capture and printed with an Epson Pro 9880, would think less of them? I don’t have an answer. I’m somewhere in the middle ground having been a graphic designer for most of my life. I guess to me, there is art in everything. Even commerce.

1 Comment

  1. by shellybee on June 26, 2008  3:31 am Reply

    No, I don't feel cheated. When something is appealing on its own, I appreciate it. When something has form and function, as they say, I get really excited. Wouldn't it be nice if the whole world was like that - art in everything? Or maybe it is -- and it's just a way of seeing.

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