Thursday, March 31, 2011

Left Coast Crime

by Wolf Schneider

The Left Coast Crime convention ( for mystery writers just took place in Santa Fe at La Fonda on the Plaza, drawing a hefty crowd of 450. I saw a lot of nametags from California, plus ones from Minnesota, Wyoming, and Colorado. Some of my favorite mystery writers were there, like Sandi Ault (, sporting some sumptuous Southwest jewelry; Craig Johnson (, having a beer in the lobby in his cowboy hat with his always-cool-looking wife Judy; and the elegant Margaret Coel ( You had to love Parnell Hall for dredging up Abbie Hoffman’s name in reference to an act of rebellion, and Bill Fitzhugh for asking the other authors to sum up their life philosophy in 20 words or less, to which Ault cleverly responded, “Love life. Be free. Go wild.”

Wolf Schneider and Sandi Ault at LCC
Not much business gets discussed at LCC—it’s more about the convivial schmoozing—but one author did reveal on a panel that she makes almost $4 dollars for each hardcover book that’s sold at an independent bookstore, while she profits just 11 cents per each e-book sold. At the gala awards dinner, toastmaster Steve Brewer confided he’s writing a mystery set in Santa Fe. Craig Johnson nabbed The Watson award for mystery novel with best sidekick and Margaret Coel took the Hillerman Sky Award for mystery that best captures the Southwest landscape. “Beat” writer Stephen Jay Schwartz lent a Hollywood aura to our table.

For a writers’ conference that’s focused on the craft and business of writing, I’m looking forward to the Tony Hillerman Writers Conference (, upcoming Nov. 10-12 in Santa Fe. That one includes cash prizes for best unpublished mystery novel and short story!

Santa Fe-based Wolf Schneider has been editor in chief of the Santa Fean, editor of Living West, and consulting editor of Southwest Art. She also blogs at

Photographer: David Alfaya, Taken in Artist Studio: Gregory Lomayesva

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Back in Santa Fe

by Wolf Schneider

They call Montana “Big Sky Country” and Wyoming “The Big Empty,” but Santa Fe’s huge cornflower-blue sky and wide-open spaces were what struck me the other morning. Travel makes us see things with a fresh view. Just back in Santa Fe from a trip east, on my walk I hightailed it along in sweats with no jacket. I tuned in to the many birdcalls—cheerful high tweets from the smaller birds and low caws from crows--and the calming color palette of creamy adobe homes silhouetted against blue skies. Santa Fe is Southwest Spartan compared with the varied oaks, draping Spanish moss, and wildflowers I was walking among on my trip, but it seems like we can breathe deeper in the quiet tranquility here. We can find our own individuality easier in the peace.

A house off Acequia Madre InWinter

In March it still looks like winter without much blooming in Santa Fe. Our landscape is all browns, greens, and blues. But it feels like spring is sneaking in. March and April are the two most pervasive juniper allergy months; it helps to take Allertonic from Herbs Etc. ( Soon the rare bunches of forsythias and crocuses will emerge. Having fewer blossoms in our surroundings makes us value them even more. Our ever-shifting crystalline light works wonders on a landscape turned barer and more architectural at this time of year. The other night at sunset the sky was swirling with grape and orange as I drove through town, wondering where my future was going to be.

Santa Fe-based Wolf Schneider has been editor in chief of the Santa Fean, editor of Living West, and consulting editor of Southwest Art. She also blogs at

Photographer: David Alfaya, Taken in Artist Studio: Gregory Lomayesva

Monday, March 7, 2011

Protecting Gallery and Artist Brand Starts from the Beginning

by Mark Sublette, President Medicine Man Gallery

Watching or reading any news periodical over the last few weeks one couldn’t help being sucked into Charlie Sheen and John Galliano’s ever faster spinning world of porcelain plates.  When it comes to tabloid fodder of such magnitude its hard not to want to watch as grandma’s good china hits the floor, how else can you explain Sheen’s Guinness record of 1 million new Twitter fans in one day:

Twitter actually may have actually helped Sheen’s brand (assuming he can still have such a thing). There are two reasons: First on Twitter Sheen is limited to 140 characters and no live images, (which seem to be everywhere including Conan O’Brien’s moon.) and second if Sheen can monetize his every growing fan base like Kim Kardashian, he can make a boatload of money for Tiger blood and party time.  After all the alcohol industry is known for big budgets.

Kardashian, one of the best brand builders, makes up to $10,000 per tweet for mentioning an advertiser's product, not bad work for a few seconds of work.   As she approaches the 3 million-follower mark her brand value can only go up.  It’s no wonder Piers Morgan,, another brand suave star, asked Kardashian on his show if she would ask her Twitter fans to follow him, (she did, Oprah deflected the request).  If Morgan had been on his A game he would have waited until after Sheen had set up his Twitter account before he invited him on, but of course this is a great reason to have him back, which he will.

By now your wondering what these ramblings of celebrity filled dribble has to do with my brand in the art world, well I’m getting there, be patient…

John Galliano, the star of Christian Dior, decided drinking, fighting, and screaming anti-Semitic rants was a great way to kick off Oscar weekend.  Dior did not.  They immediately canned the pirate of the runway and are still dealing with brand preservation.  Owning 92% of the Galliano brand, Dior at this point is still embracing the Galliano brand but not the man.  My guess is it’s a wait and see situation, how does Galliano’s alcohol rehab and trial unfold and will his fan base come back on board.  My guess is that Gilt Group will be having lots of sales on Galliano dresses in the near future…

Ok, so I promised this had something to do with art, galleries, and artists… it does I promise.

We in the art world are no different than any other brand be it Sheen or Dior.  Our actions are followed and rewarded.  These include doing good business, having ethics, and treating artists (clients) with respect.   A slow process, but this is how you build a brand, over time with lots of  successful transactions.  It’s much easier to destroy a brand quickly by taking advantage of artists, clients, and fellow colleagues then it is to treat them with respect over a long career. Short-term gains, no matter how large, when obtained at a cost of the brand (reputation) will ultimately destroy the company.  Dior recognized this and immediately fired Galliano even though it also killed a sizable investment in their brand.  Accenture also protected its brand by dropping Tiger for a more likeable kind of animal, a surfing elephant. Both companies understood their brand was important no matter how much money they had spent on developing a now damaged line of advertising; art galleries and artists are no different.

When building a brand you want to be associated with galleries/artists who are liked minded.  An example would be an art magazine, which has quality advertisers and focuses on real content, this is a good place to build your brand.  Steve Jobs at Apple recognizes this and always focuses on quality control.  This is why Apple reviews all the Apps before they are approved for his brand even if it slows the process down, long term gains out weight short term.  No matter how large and powerful your company, protecting brand and reputation should always be at the forefront.  

Google recently was highly criticized for not policing their algorithms with regards to content farms, and spurious links.  Two major companies, which Google deemed as offenders, were J.C. Pennys and Google took action, which affected 12% of all its current searches by implementing what is now called Google Panda.  Many companies that paid lots of money to Google for Sponsor position were affected but Google needed to protect its users and thus its brand.  Never to big to fail.

Deciding where and how to put advertising dollars for brand development is no different.  Does the art market you want to embrace resonate with the story you want to tell?  Unfortunately no magazine, Facebook site, or Twitter account is going to help you if you haven’t nourished the brand from its beginning. 

For artists it means staring with a good choice with regards to selecting a gallery. Ask other artists about the gallery, this includes financial stability, does the prospective gallery have a reputation as a poor, slow or even no pay when it comes to its artists.  If the gallery passes the economic litmus test then find out about the gallery’s other artists.  You want artwork that hangs next to you on the gallery wall to be of quality and add to your own reputation.  It doesn’t do you any good to sell your artwork if you’re the only original artist and your selling by default because of your quality.   Your brand as an artist is not only your painting ability but also the gallery that represents you.

Galleries have the same problem in reverse, they must choose artists that fit together, have original thought, and are quality individuals as well as painters and sculptors.  Gallion’s talents a designer were real but now Dior is paying for the personal side, it’s best to have both talent and personality intact to begin with.

Branding is about associations as much as it is logos.  If your brand is always associated with great art, ethical dealings, and quality content your on the path toward success.  If such components of running an art gallery or being an artist don’t seem important to your branding process then don’t be surprised when your forced to walk the gangplank, because of questionable behavior.
Hold the press this just in, Charlie Sheen just got fired from his job and is now up to 2 million Twitter followers, Pier’s get on the phone. time to build your brand.