Saturday, December 27, 2008

Damien Hirst is Looking Ahead

Damien Hirst is Looking Ahead. Image via Portfolio

Damien Hirst is considered to be one of the most tactful artists living today as far as establishing a market is concerned. While the ethics of his practice can be debated one must admit that Hirst is a capable businessman-- his actions have enforced the idea that an artist can take his or her career into his or her own hands by utilizing alternative marketing paths, such as selling art online or at auction without the help of gallery representation. However, it may very well be that recent economic struggles have finally caught up to the world renowned British artist and his business model-- at least that is what the skeptics are saying. Could they be wrong?
The media has reported on several stories that reveal the current status of the ‘dismal’ financial situation facing Damien Hirst. For example, there are reports that Hirst has dismissed 20 to 24 assistants from his production company. Further reports include information stating that only two of eight works by Hirst sold at Art Basel Miami Beach less than a month ago. However, one must remember that Hirst has been making his own rules as of late-- so it could be that he does not care about these recent losses. After all, Hirst is by no means a starving artist.
As mentioned, Damien Hirst is a very business-minded artist. Before counting Hirst out realize that he recently lowered his own prices. In fact, Hirst has stated that he is looking forward to selling his work for affordable rates within the context of recent global economic woes. He has already reduced the price of some works by half. Hirst has also said that he is looking at more realistic prices in general. Thus, it seems to me that Hirst is learning as he goes. When faced with a tough market one must learn to adapt, true?
Hirst is aware of this. As a businessman and entrepreneur he is very aware of what is needed in order to sustain his market during stages of economic strife. Hirst recently stated, "If I want to sell new work, I'll price it lower. If people have got less money, you can either just shut your door and say, 'Screw everybody', or I can wait until everyone can afford my work or price it cheaper." Thus, you can't measure the success of Damien Hirst with traditional concepts of art world success. After all, Hirst is exploring different markets in order to sustain his art dynasty, so to speak.
Do you need an example of how committed Damien Hirst is to exploring the market for his art? Look to his association with Levi’s Jeans for the answer. The artist is working with Levi’s Jeans in order to produce a limited edition collection of clothing featuring themes that are common in his art. The prices will start at $100 for tees and $250 for jeans. Hirst will utilize aspects of ecommerce when selling his line of clothing. Needless to say, Hirst is an artist who is prepared to brave the new frontier of the art market.
So what can we learn from Damien Hirst? Simple. When demand is down an artist must adapt to the art market as well as the global economy. As with any business... traditional models of commerce are meant to be broken.
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Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor


Anonymous said...

I think artists like Hirst have seen that average joe artists can be successful selling products with their fine art images upon them. So it makes sense that top names like Hirst would move into that territory. Online art stores and art auctions are the way of the future. It is a great to see a big name like Hirst catch on.


I can't believe you are on the Hirst bandwagon also!
Maybe the readership of the Guardian is particularly biased, or else they know something that most of you fail to see: 87.7% think Hirst is a Huckster!
Guardian Poll: Damien Hirst

Balhatain said...

The Mystic,

I advise you to read some of my past entries about Hirst before lumping me on the Hirst bandwagon, as you put it. My personal thoughts on his art aside-- I can't deny that he is a good businessman. I'm by no means a fan of his art.

He is very resourceful in the way in which he markets himself. Again, I don't have to like his art, but that does not mean I can't like his marketing strategy.

Anonymous said...

Huckster? That's generous.
I was thinking a word with fewer
letters, like "Whore"...but wait,
don't they give it away? I'll
have to amend my thinking back
up a few letters to "Prostitute".
There, That's professional
enough, I guess.

Anonymous said...

If you're judging Hirst solely on his business credentials, why write about it here? Perhaps he should be confined to the page next to the stocks and bonds, then at least we wouldn't need to keep looking at his product, er, artwork!?!

Darren Daz Cox said...

I wonder how much more art he could do if he stopped giving a crap about selling it?