Art is Subjective, Publicity & Gigs are Not!

Art is Subjective, Publicity & Gigs are Not!


This in some ways is related to the article I wrote: “How is the Value of a Professional Illusionist Measured?”

I bet there is a magician or illusionist who you do not think is very good yet is constantly booked or is featured in the media. In fact, when you get together with you peers, you guys all agree that he/ she is not even a really good magician; a fact that the general public or media does not seem to agree with you on.

Then, the question is, if this person is not very good at magic or illusion, why does he/ she get all the publicity & gigs?

These magicians’ success are always attributed to a host of reasons (they are lucky, they have connections, they have family money, they stole the opportunity from another etc) except the most likely reason – these magicians know how to use their art to create vehicles that have wide appeal to their audience, casual public, media and the people who are financing the projects. This is “show business” in the truest sense and success is difficult to achieve, let alone guarantee.

The cold hard fact is: Art is subjective. No matter how bad you might find an artist’s work, there will be people on the face of this earth who will like it. And the same holds true, no matter how good you find an artist’s work, there will be a percentage of people who will hate it. And the wildly successful artists are the ones that tend to be at either end of the spectrum. Our society loves extremes and it gives media something interesting to talk about. And that is what defines an art form isn’t it, the fact that it is open to diverse interpretation and appreciation.


Because art is subjective and many times may not have bearing on whether a creative artist gets publicity & gigs, this often creates much jealously among peers. Whenever a creative artist gets some form of publicity, a high profile project or is commercially successful, there will be a percentage of peers who get jealous and resentful towards them. Many times, this group of peers do not understand why those creative artist are commercially successful. They believe that they have the same amount of skill or are even more skilled than their peers.

So, since there is no good or bad art, the objectives of the creative artist cannot be to try to justify that his/ her art is ‘good’. But rather, the artist has to find ways to ensure his/ her art is conceptualized, designed, marketed, positioned and executed to get the publicity and future gigs. The reality is that artists are paid based on the commercial value (publicity & gigs) their art brings and NOT by the subjective quality of their art. The simply reason why some creative artists are more commercially successful than others is that they are better at applying the principles of being a good artists than others.

Purist creative artists generally hate this reality. Many pure creative artists expect to be remunerated based on what they think their art/ craft is worth. This is often based on comparing their works to peers and making an objective (in their view) opinion. They feel their art should speak and sell for itself. This is the reason you see many creative artists who do not bother about how they dress, do not have a proper name card or website and have no marketing effort in running their business.

While in all possibility, these purist creative artists have high artistic standards, BUT unfortunately, the parties that matter do not judge an artist based on the subjective quality of the art alone. One reason is that not everyone has the same opinion on the art and potential clients, sponsors, agents and the media know this. So clients, sponsors, agents and the media look for other benchmarks that are not as subjective. These objective achievements include publicity garnered, feedback from audiences/ past clients and number/ quality of projects successfully undertaken.

Now, if you think I’m suggesting that marketing and promoting are everything, that is far from the case. It is important that the final artistic product has good commercial appeal. I remember a magic theatre show where the video trailer was great, the promotions were heavy, the event it was showcased was significant but ultimately it was a flop because the act was just not good and did not deliver. Good marketing & promotions can do wonders for a good act but can also greatly damage a bad act’s credibility.

Be creative. Be good. Be commercial… I sound like a sell-out :-P


Learn how to book more shows that pay more, check out the Backstage Business Academy, a website dedicated to creating highly successful entertainers

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