Is it a Bad Time for Artists?


Paul Provost, President

Someone recently commented that what we do at 6P is Art for Profit. It got me thinking… the team at 6P does produce art, but I've never thought of it as art for profit. Yes we get paid to do it, but I don't do what I do exclusively for profit's sake. What we do reminds me of a painter who also runs a framing shop to pay his bills and earn an income; it's finding a balance in life where you do what you love and live a life you're comfortable in.

In our modern economy, the cost of housing, food and living forces artists out of their craft or at least forces them to earn an income separate from their art. Advertising, which is a general term that I will apply to what we do, is often the answer to this dilemma. Countless designers, illustrators, writers, musicians and videographers have all been fortunate to find a place for their talent and passion in the world of advertising.

Universities and colleges offer a slew of professional programs for artists. As well, graphic design and video development software has grown increasingly more complex because artists now have an arena in advertising to explore their skills and passion for art. If not for advertising, we would not have these courses and technological advancements and many artists would be forced to find a new line of work.

At 6P, we conceive of creative solutions to complex business problems, and use a combination of art and science to help our clients grow. Our challenge is finding creative ways to communicate our clients’ unique passion, market advantage and message to consumers.

We do this through art.

The goal of great art is to be provocative. Great art makes people feel and think; it taps into peoples’ passion, fears and dreams. Great advertising does the same. The goal of great advertising is to provoke feeling and, taking it one step further, action.

What separates advertising from traditional art is that it either works or it doesn’t. Advertising’s success or failure can be proven (usually) through metrics, sales figures and test groups. If a commercial is hilarious or touching or empowering, it does not mean it’s a success. If an ad creates immediate sales or builds brand awareness – or whatever is defined as the strategic goal for the campaign – it is a success.

If it succeeds while also standing on its own based on pure artistic merit, it’s a great achievement.

So when it comes to thinking about whether what we do is Art for Profit, rather than Art for Art’s sake, I cannot help but think it isn't so simple as one or the other anymore. We commend those who dedicate their lives to the brush or camera, but we also believe that there is merit in the work done by advertising agencies dedicating their lives to art and the science of marketing.

And, for an artist, what could be better than creating great art AND helping passionate business owners succeed WHILE earning a decent living? For us, that’s the life we love to lead.

With this article in mind, I recall a number of famous sayings:

Advertising is the greatest art form of the 20th century.
-Marshall McLuhan

"An artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one."
-Charles Horton Cooley

"An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision."
-James Whistler

"An artist is somebody who produces things that people don’t need to have."
-Andy Warhol

"Art for art’s sake is a philosophy of the well-fed."
-Frank Lloyd Wright

"Art is man’s expression of his joy in labor."
-Henry A. Kissinger

"Art is science made clear."
-Wilson Mizner

"When I make art, I think about its ability to connect with others, to bring them into the process."
-Jim Hodges

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