UN-Brand My Art: The Case For Creating Outside The Capitalist Box

image credit: Lex Gjurasic

image credit: Lex Gjurasic

Art is always growing and changing and, therefore, cannot be defined by a brand. 

The website for my art has been the same since the day it launched, with the exception of a few tweaks and adjustments here and there. Same font, same colors, same logo. It is a basic bitch website if there ever was one.

I’ve updated the portfolios with new images of artwork, but, for an art site, there isn’t a sense of urgency to revamp regularly to keep audience interest or retain traffic. Art websites sort of act as an online calling card for when someone asks the dreaded question, "So what kind of art do you make?"

Just the idea of changing my site made me immediately attached to what I saw on the screen in front of me, and not in a healthy way.

I thought about it; my website essentially provides a bite-sized sample — like Costco — giving you a virtual taste of my artwork, in the hope that you want more. 

I choose to be indefinable.

Since the turn of the last century, the art world has seen the decline of the Artist (capital A) and the rise of the “artrepreneur,” the “creative careerist,” and the myriad of other fanciful terms that can all be distilled down to just “creative” (noun). I find myself cringing when I hear these terms. Having been raised by an artist, and around working artists in a home that hosted Silversmiths Guild meetings in our living room, I witnessed firsthand as artists evolved from shamans to businessmen. Working artists of today are expected to be production, manager, accountant, social media intern, savvy businessperson.

Not long ago, I was talking with a friend — also a mid-career artist — about feeling insecure that my artwork wasn’t always consistent, meaning my process wasn’t derived from a formulaic process as viable because of its sameness — same style, same technique, same message. A brand.

I’ve observed this to be the formula for the artist at the point in her career that falls between emerging and retrospective. It’s a sweet spot, if not a safe space to make art from. My friend decried this observation! Stating that my work is not mine to judge, define, categorize, or label. That is the job of the curator, gallerist, and museum professional — not mine. My job is to be an artist.


As I squinted at the computer screen at my same-old-same website, I made a decision to un-brand my art, to free myself from the confinement of definition. I began to make a plan to refresh, shake up, and loosen my site instead of clamping down. 

Art is always growing and changing and, therefore, cannot be defined by a brand. 

I choose to be indefinable.

I get it — some artists like to have a brand. It benefits some artists to work from the point of a clear message that is easy for their audience to understand. But not only are there artists who don’t wish to have a brand, but artists who cannot be branded. These are the sensitive, the outsiders, the mentally ill, and the emotionally fragile. 

Yes, they still do exist, but you won’t know it from looking at social media.

Where do outliers such as Forrest Bess and Henry Darger belong in the arts landscape that embraces the creative entrepreneur? 

Can you even imagine what the websites of those sensitive souls’ would look like?

And what would the brand be of the highly complex weirdo who lives in a fish camp and cuts off his genitals to connect to a higher power? 

Not to mention Emily Brontë would have NO EXCUSE not to blog from her dank little room.

Brands fail to capture the complexities and nuances of art and the artist. Instead, a brand can restrict the artist into an airless vacuum that makes creativity inert. 

I will always advocate for artists to be better professionals, to be empowered, to not to be taken advantage of by the wolves whose livelihoods depend on artists being poor in business. But I’m not going to advocate for an artist to create a brand that may limit them (or their work) for the sake of masses' ability to understand the artwork. By holding on tightly to a brand, you might as well take your paintbrush right into the corner of a room. 

Resist the corporate model that sells diapers, cereal, and soda pop! Refuse to pander to those who are not willing to do the hard work of trying to understand art! Rip off the bridle of capitalism and run free with your art like the wild horse you are!


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