Go Big or Go Home

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Tesla Space Roadster Alien Immigration Comic By Karen Strum

An artist with goals should not be seen as a person with their head in the clouds, otherwise known as a dreamer. Having goals means you know your purpose in life and you're on the road to reaching your destination. Artists that dream big achieve success because they have the right mindset when setting goals. Often times, fine artists have to resort to publicity stunts to generate the momentum needed for prosperity.

Go big or go home is a philosophy (and marketing slogan) that encourages one to be bold. It encourages extravagance, living life to its fullest, and achieving your goals. The phrase is said to have been coined by a Southern California motorcycle parts company for its oversized Harley Davidson pipes during the 1990s. Artists today, should consider taking this mantra to heart.

Elon Musk took this war cry seriously when he launched his now famous cherry red Tesla Roadster into space this February. His Company, SpaceX, sent the Falcon Heavy rocket on its maiden voyage and turned it into a marketing spectacle. The rocket, the most powerful in the world, made history after taking off from the very same launch pad that sent the Apollo 11 astronauts to the moon. Inside the electric car is a dummy spaceman listening to an endless loop of David Bowie's classic space exploration hit.

Publicity stunts can also be leveraged by fine artists. Many success stories are due in part to some offbeat and often outlandish event. In Fine Art Publicity: The Complete Guide for Galleries and Artists, Susan Abbott states that publicity stunts often include:


  • Launching an art collection at an atypical venue
  • Creating a sensational photo opportunity for the media
  • Leveraging a celebrity appearance
  • Hosting an event packed with shock value
  • Cross-promoting your art with unusual products

Some art critics argue Andy Warhol's entire career was a series of publicity stunts. Andy Warhol's marketing strategy revolved around achieving fame. Everything he did promoted his artwork, name, and personal brand. At one point, in 1985, he made a guest appearance on The Love Boat starring as himself. The plot involved Mrs. Cunningham (from Happy Days) spotting Warhol and trying to prevent her husband from learning of her dark and mysterious past spent at Warhol's New York Factory. Warhol raised profound questions about the nature of self promotion and its relationship to fine art. Even posthumously he continues to shock audiences with a twenty-four / seven Webcam feed of his grave, instituted by The Andy Warhol Museum near his home town of Pittsburgh, PA.

Salvador Dali would tell you to plan every facet of your promotion carefully. Often noted for publicity stunts, he once made an audacious appearance at a London art lecture. With two wolfhounds and a billiard cue in his hands, he wore an antique diving suit and a helmet topped with a Mercedes radiator cap. Not realizing he would be unable to breathe, the audience watched him gasp for air thinking it was part of the show. Luckily, a stagehand arrived with a wrench and was able to prevent Dali from suffocating. Whatever your “big” idea, make sure you check with city officials, local ordinances, and follow any and all fire and safety precautions.

If you dream big, yet still set realistic goals along the way, you can achieve success. Publicity stunts can be a cost effective method of gaining recognition, more so than traditional marketing methods whose costs can be preventative. As Susan Abbott wrote, there are many ways an artist can stage a creative event, but she does warn that self promotion can be viewed unfavorably in some art circles. Warhol once said, “In the future everybody will be world famous for 15 minutes.” Let's make it last a little bit longer.


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About the Author: Karen Strum is a Tampa Bay illustrator available for freelance projects. A unique cast of characters in her style can be designed for use in advertisements and materials for which you want something extra special. Karen's cartoons use retro imagery and vintage color palettes that add charm to every image she creates whether it is a comic, logo, diagram, book cover, or concept image. [Send an Email]


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