Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Noticed: The Art of Self-Promotion

When I was out at the Ossington Ave galleries a few weeks back I saw that someone had been heavily involved in self-promotion of late, stencilling their website name over various construction hoardings.

This was the second instance I'd seen of late of a potential artist doing some form of self-promotional "check out my website" postering. (As it turns out, Mr. MatthewStylianouDotCom seems to be more of a commercial photographer than a hipster-gallery seeker, and seems as such to be targeting the nightlife crowd along the strip.)

Still, it got me wondering—is this happening a lot elsewhere? Is this a growing or a fading trend? Not a trend at all? Is it understandable to feel, at the same time, depressed at the extent self can be product, and relieved that this is actually an individual's concern, not a corporate campaign avatar?

Also: much graffiti is already a form of self-promotion, no? Even if it's a cloaked or cryptic form thereof. Could straightforward ad-style stencilling like this be considered graffiti art? What do you think?


Nicholas Brown said...

Pretty old news as I see it. Shepard Fairey's Obey Giant campaign began as a critique of the rampant commodification inherent to skateboard culture and ended up as its own endgame (Obey jackets and hoodies anyone?). I remember a certain nightlife website used to stencil its logo all over Vancouver in the early 2000s (I refuse to mention their name so as not to further their self-promotion). This is, and has always been, obnoxious as much as it is a grey area in the realm of street art. Folks like the one you've observed tend to get weeded out.

L.M. said...

My favourite piece of graffiti in this city was crudely spray painted on a brick wall on Queen street years ago: "Consider alternative advertising."

Aleksandra Rdest said...

Stenciling is just advertising. Graffiti is not meant to be legible; the merit of a tag is often based on its illegibility. Only those in the know, know who it is, or can decipher it. But way to go for those who take advertising into their own hands to promote themselves.

Leah Sandals said...

Thanks for the feedback, guys.

You're right Nick in that this didn't seem totally new to me -- just newish in that it was quite forward in terms of an individual promoting their own creative brand. (I also struggled with whether to mention this -- in doing so it is working as promotion for the dude, eh?)

LM - that's very funny. Nice.

Aleks, I'm interested in your distinction between stencilling and graffiti. I do think some stencils are most def art, and that graffiti is promotion to a small community. But maybe, if we extend this argument, we can say that all art is a form of self promotion (or can be viewed as such in some lights) whether it's in public space or not.