in name only

Has anyone else noticed the disturbing trend in the fiction book world lately? You know, the one where the author’s name is now huge and the title of the book is small. I realize the book industry is in a bit of flux here but this is very strange indeed. Imagine if artists started marketing their work this way. Wouldn’t it be strange to see a large panel with a small painting or photograph and a huge name?

OK I get it. Books are different. The goodness is on the inside and the outside is just a package to sell it, but I am talking about a more disturbing trend that has been with art for quite some time. The trend of artists selling work and viewers buying work on name only.

Name recognition, while being a powerful marketing tool, is by no means a judge of quality. For instance, I had a friend once who in the midst of a conversation about photography said the following blanket statement: “I love (insert artist name here). I just love everything he does.” The rest of the conversation went a little something like this.

Me: You love (artist’s name)?
friend: Absolutley.
me: You know him?
friend: Well, no not personally, but I love his work.
me: Of course but you SAID, you love him.
friend: so what is the difference?
me: It is a huge difference. He is a person and his work is an object or objects created by him. He could be a complete asshole for all you know.
friend: I doubt it. His work is amazing.

You see where this is going right. Such and such artist can do no wrong and all his work is great because HE made it. While I agree, I really liked one of his books, I thought the rest were mediocre and never bought any of them. But I also never confused the work with the person either. I always try and judge art on the merit of the object, or more often, the effect the object has upon me. If the work moves me in some way or changes the way I think about the world around me, or hell even if I just like the color scheme, then I am a fan. Sure in the past, I have picked up books because I recognized the name, but I have never ordered a book site unseen. (Thank you Photo Eye book tease) So I guess in the end of this ramble, my point is this: Buy work because you love IT.