Selling Ideas as Artwork

I created an event called “Do Nothing or Do Not Do Anything.” (the rules are self-explanatory.) When it came time to document me doing this event, I became cautious of documentation due to the nature of the event. But if I didn’t document it there would be little record of it ever happening. This inspired my thinking about selling intangible ideas (for example if I was to sell the instructions of the do nothing event as a work of art) outlined below.

It is very hard to sell an idea. In particular I’m talking about a conceptual art idea. You are selling an abstraction that can only be realized with imagination but nevertheless will always remain in ephemeral form. Someone may decide to execute the idea and it’s execution may, (depending on the idea) or may not create a product. But if it does not create a product it becomes even harder to sell it. On top of these difficulties lies the challenge of finding a willing buyer—not necessarily in terms of money but more in terms of believing in the art, the artist and the art theories which create value for the idea that is being offered. In order to put this idea up for sale, it must not be known. This means the idea is kept secret until the buyer pays for it—only then it is revealed to the buyer much like Tino Sehgal’s work. The buyer must therefore be convinced that whatever he is buying is valuable. In the “real” world—outside of conceptual art we inspect products before we buy them to know what exactly we will be paying for and to compare it to other products. The packaging largely assists in this along with branding and the company’s marketing. However, ideas do not have the same kind of packaging or marketing. Their packaging and marketing are controlled by the artist, the person representing the artist or work and the venue representing the artist or work. If you have a name like Gagosion behind your work telling the buyer how significant and important this idea is, the idea will increase in monetary value. On the other hand if you are just entering the art scene and have not made a “name” for yourself—your name is not a brand—then the value of your idea is very low. It can be very difficult to start out as a conceptual artist who makes ephemeral art because you will have a hard time finding an audience, buyers, making money and finding a venue to display your work. A big factor in being an artist who sells ideas is gaining popularity and a celebrity status. In order to make decent money selling paintings you need to be a decent painter, but in order to make money selling ideas you need to be an excellent idea originator, entrepreneur and marketer.

IN SHORT, if you document the idea and present it to the buyer, then there is no reason for the buyer to buy it because you just gave him the product (the idea). But if you do not show him the product, or idea, then how do you get the buyer to believe in it? And by revealing it to more than one person you are making it less singular and less precious in a way which could drive the price down. Help me think out with this issue. What is your take?


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