June 8th, 2012 - 08:25 AM
Fine Art America’s voting statistics appear to be great indicators of personal preferences in art. With over sixty new contests each week, themes run from the traditional (surrealism) to the ridiculous (dodo paintings). Could the voting results actually support previous findings about what kind of art people want? Komer and Melamid found, for instance, that “Everywhere the people want outdoor scenes, with wild animals, water, trees, and some people…but in general people hate gold and orange. They all hate the sharp angles and geometric patterns.”
FAA contests are designed to promote the economic interests of its members by exposing as much art as possible to dollars. It’s the same technique used by retail stores and grocery markets—exploit grazing habits rather than promote food for health. Dangle it in front of their faces and they’re bound to nibble.
So, how does an artist measure success, by how many contests s/he can enter to lead potential buyers to his or her portfolio? The system seems to blur the distinction between the wanted and the needed. Give them what they want, not what they need. After all, they are all adults.
My recent contest, GOTV (Get Out The Vote), was unsuccessful attracting both artists and voters. The results: 10 artists, 10 artworks, 14 votes. The intent was to get artists to submit their worst work of art and to get people to vote for it, a contest that would demonstrate the artist’s marketing skills rather than artistic talent. The winners were: Homunkulus by Vsevolod Poliohin (3 votes), Witches Wash Day by Jeffrey Koss (3 votes), and Mountain Scene by Merton Allen (2 votes). Had I actually gotten out the vote, an easy task since I needed only two friends to vote, my Striptych (2 votes), shown here, might have taken first place.