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Omphaloskepsis Blog

My job is to turn the lights on

Jun 1, 2011

Oilsketch.jpgOil sketch of just slaughtered deer carcass. (approximately 40” x 24”)

I recently read a business blog on the elevator pitch. Don’t give it, it basically said. Instead, get people to ask you for it. It gave an example. The author was chatting with a fellow, “what do you do?” “I crash websites,” came the reply. That was an intriguing response that made the questioner want to know more. The website crasher worked for a company whose clients hired them to increase website traffic. He said that if they didn’t increase the traffic so much that the website crashed, then they felt like they failed. That was the elevator pitch. It was a good story, interesting and he didn’t need to tell it, he was asked to tell it. Brilliant.

I’ve been going through iterations of my own. What to you do? I’m an artist. Well that’s always interesting. But then I need to explain clearly what kind of art I make. Not, “I’m a painter” because that doesn’t say anything about the meaning of my work, nor does it encapsulate what I do. So, then I started quoting from my bio, “I’m a conceptual artist and painter and my work deals with issues of consciousness, scale, admissibility, permission and the human condition.” Well, that was a conversation stopper! And returned glassy-eyed stares to boot!

In light of this article, there seem to be so many possibilities opening up to me! And they all fit so well with my artwork too. The games I play using the audience without their permission. Even my husband was unwittingly one of my experiments - for 4 years! - and he was none too happy when he found out. You see, he’s a very smart man. Most people would call him brilliant. So when he explained things to me, things I thought were obvious, and perhaps indeed were obvious, I would play stupid and just go along to see how far it would go...it went on for four years! I love that little, light going on in peoples’ eyes when they figure something out.

So those are my social experiments. I do them in my studio, on a grand scale as obvious art installations like Mother May I...? and on a smaller scale, like when I sit in the center of my studio on a chair and read in the middle of First Thursday, or the money experiment, when I put the dollar on the floor and penalized whomever picked it up regardless of their intention. Claiming it as art, the rules were 1. I could not touch it and 2. they had to put back more than they picked up. It was great fun!

And the paintings, what about those tangible pieces of art. The water paintings that take you into the hypnogogic morass - or the accidents that make you laugh or make you angry because you looked and you project. So what’s my fish hook for my elevator pitch?

I think I have to keep going back to my lifelong mission, to provide an opportunity for you to have a visceral experience you might not otherwise have. To affect you, deeply - if my work succeeds. So, what is that? What provocative things can I say that would both be truthful to what I do and get a conversation going about the work and about art?

How about some of these? “So, Kate. What do you do?’
I turn lights on
I wake up
I’m a waker-upper
I’m a people slapper
I wake people up.
I drown people
I hack off peoples limbs
I slip the rug out from under people.
I hit people over the head when they think they’re being lulled to sleep.
I make people laugh then slap them.
I get people to question their (what goes here?)

Those were a few I thought of. Happy to hear your thoughts.

Many of the same mechanisms that cause you to shrink in horror from a predator are also used when you are having sex– or even while you are consuming your Thanksgiving dinner. To your body, saber-toothed tigers and orgasms and turkey gravy look remarkably similar. An aroused physiological state is characteristic of both stress and pleasure.

Ergo, my accident paintings cause an physiological state of arousal in people.

In any case, this information sure does explain some things about how people react to artists!

Don’t Give Your Elevator Pitch to Potential Clients — Get Them to Ask for It
Brain Rules. Dr. John Medina. Pear Press
Confessions of a Public Speaker. Scott Berkun. O’Reilly.

Tags: Marketing
Category: Art Business

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