Red shoes


Red Shoes

From an article in ‘Art Business Today’  magazine. I found this old article and thought that I would share it again. How times have changed in just a few years!

Michael Tickner is a friend who is a full time working artist across the pond in North America. I know him well. He is English and used to live and exhibit here in sunny Brighton before he married a lovely Canadian girl and moved to British Columbia. Recently I invited him to become a Facebook ‘friend’ and we also linked through Linkedin. If you don’t understand that last sentence please don’t give up, carry on reading because it may become clearer. If I am honest this new world of social networking can be tricky.


Michael Tickner and his red shoes

Michael Tickner and his red shoes

Last week I created a Facebook ‘group’ all about making a living being an artist. Then I invited my friends to join the group. [It’s all done by online magic.]  Michael joined and emailed me the latest news about his red shoes.

Michael has a pair of bright red shoes that he wears whenever he does any artist-meets-public stuff. He wears them in casual and formal situations, and even when he is in full penguin-suit attire. He has a story about a crowded private view where he was showing. A visitor arrived and asked a member of venue staff …“which one is the artist?”  The attendant replied “ I don’t know, but probably the one with the red shoes”. The perception was that only mad extrovert anti-social bohemian artists would wear bright red shoes. So if you want to be noticed and don’t mind the stigma, wear red shoes. This only applies to male artists, please create your own technique if you are a female artist.

Last week Michael was involved in a Canadian art event where several artists were invited to paint giant polystyrene letters in their own individual style. Michael had an ‘M’. Then all the artists were gathered together to hold their individual art piece aloft spelling out a slogan for the organizers. Of course Michael wore his bright red shoes for the photo-shoot.  But the patrons objected because their biggest business rivals had a bright red logo in the same shade of red. I think Michael prevailed and managed to wear the shoes for some of the shots.

So is this ‘Artist’s Sketch’ about Facebook, Linkedin, red shoes, or what?  Or is it actually about logo’s, and PR, and the public perception of the artist’s life?

The public think that artists are something special, doing things in our magical gifted way that they cannot do. The vast body of non-arty general public is where our collectors come from. Always remember that. They want us to be special and stand out from the mass of brown and black shoed people. So Michael had a duty to wear his red shoes.  And artists have a duty to be mad eccentric anti-social bohemian dreamers. Well that is my excuse anyway.

Oh, yes. Facebook and Linkedin. These new tools for making connections are just super hunky-dory ways for letting everybody know all about your work. I am a big fan of the internet.  Luckily, Dr John Charlton, research fellow in psychology at the University of Boston, says that it is not addictive. So I tell all artists to get your own website, your own blog, your own Facebook wall, and your own Linkedin connections. Join them all up together, and post them all on your website. That is one of the ways that I keep in touch with distant friends like Michael and other artists worldwide, and my growing list of Facebook fans and collectors.

I have tried the ‘wear bright red shoes’ trick, but the shoes pinched and were uncomfortable. So I gave them away and bought a pair of oxblood Doctor Martins that are much more comfortable. Maybe they will work just as well.