Why branding might be ruining art

All the platform gurus tell you to “build a brand.” Figure out who you are, what you’re selling, and then market it. Define yourself. It makes sense. But, branding is becoming an art of its own, which is fine. I’m just afraid it might be ruining real art. After all, real art is artistry, not perceived artistry. Vert few masterpieces have been appreciated in their own time.

If you’re a regular person like me (or even worse, an artist), branding yourself is tricky business. Because, like I said, you don’t consider yourself a business. You’re an artist. You just want to write, paint, act, play music, create things, or communicate concepts. Your art flows from who you are, not the other way around. But in order to promote your art, you must specialize in something sale-able, and it must be a stereotype that fits you. No one told you, when you were six and drawing up a storm, that someday you’d have to become a marketing gymnast to do anything with your drawings.

This branding routine is like telling a mom to specialize on her mothering perception rather than on the art of mothering. You know, fill her social media pages with professional and i-phone photography of happy children eating their tofu and getting into IB programs. She will get likes on all her social media posts, which of course, she manages easily on top of her real responsibilities. She is adept at posting pictures and videos of herself. Her children comment that she is their best friend, and they can tell her anything.

Yes, this is something every successful mother can accomplish while she goes to work, does the laundry, runs errands, carpools, buys groceries, prepares well-loved meals, cleans the house, exercises, weeds the flower beds, and spends sufficient time with her husband (if she has one) to keep the marriage fulfilling. Through her media presence, she can sufficiently show that her children are not rebellious or difficult and that she is not exhausted, over-worked, or discouraged. Conversely, she also has the option to post videos of tantrums, tirades, and complaints and still collect thousands or millions of hits (because media lovers love authenticity, especially bad authenticity). In either case, she has successfully represented herself to the social media world. Which, as we all know, mimics real life.

If I took a branding approach with mothering, I could be deemed successful just by being the mother of a beautiful family. (My Facebook page is proof.) In our world, it seems that marketing is the only craft anyone needs to perfect anymore. Who I say I am is who I am. But is that true, and is that art?

Branding is certainly an art, but I don’t think it’s artistry.

Artistry is the complex sequence of awe, analysis, appreciation, and illumination. It’s the electricifying transfer of self-awareness between artist and audience. It’s when Oh! becomes Ah-hah. Art teaches me something about myself; branding only teaches me about something else.

All this self-actualization and self-promotion seems like a frantic attempt to feel loved, accepted, and noticed. Maybe my confidence is the problem here, not the marketing. Or maybe the cyber-world is just the natural evolution of technology and a generation sidelined from parental interaction. I’m not judging. Just thinking.

I wonder if artistry is a raft adrift in a globe more comfortable with alternate realities than real life.