Month: January 2016

David Bowie On Self-Promotion For Artists 

I once asked John Lennon what he thought of what I do. He said, “It’s great, but its just rock and roll with lipstick on.”
—David Bowie

David Bowie was a genius marketer who knew well that a guy sometimes needs to put on some lipstick to get the attention he deserves. This is a list of things he did with intention of capturing his audience interests—and imagination.

David Bowie On Self-Promotion For Artists

  • Created work relevant to the times and events that surrounded him. “Space Oddity” was inspired by Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and it was released a few days ahead of the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969.

[“Space Oddity”] was written because of going to see the film 2001, which I found amazing. I was out of my gourd anyway, I was very stoned when I went to see it, several times, and it was really a revelation to me.”
—David Bowie

  • Declared himself gay during an interview with Melody Maker magazine in 1972. He later corrected this fact, although acknowledged that it was a great tool for self-promotion

It’s true—I am a bisexual. But I can’t deny that I’ve used that fact very well. I suppose it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.
—David Bowie

David Bowie - Aladin Sane

  • Created a gay, androgynous persona—Ziggy Stardust—to liberate and reinvent himself

I wanted to imbue Ziggy with real flesh and blood and muscle, and it was imperative that I find Ziggy and be him. The irony of it was that I was not gay. I was physical about it, but frankly it wasn’t enjoyable.
—David Bowie

  • Played a “blowjob guitar solo” with Mick Ronson and distributed photos to newspapers, which got him a great deal of attention

Mick was the perfect foil for the Ziggy character. He was very much a salt-of-the-earth type, the blunt northerner with a defiantly masculine personality, so that what you got was the old-fashioned Yin and Yang thing. As a rock duo, I thought we were every bit as good as Mick and Keith or Axl and Slash. Ziggy and Mick were the personification of that rock n roll dualism.
—David Bowie

David Bowie "blowjob guitar solo” with Mick Ronson

  • Drew inspiration from musicians who made performance an essential part of their act: Little Richard, Vince Taylor, Iggy Pop, Velvet Underground, etc.

Vince Taylor really became one of the building blocks of the Ziggy character. I just thought he was too good to be true, he was of another world, he was something else, and he was definitely part of the blue print of thus strange character that came from nowhere.
—David Bowie

  • Became a staple of pop culture by appearing in movies always playing characters that reinforced his on-stage persona.

I get offered so many bad movies. And they’re all raging queens or transvestites or Martians.
—David Bowie

Overall, Bowie knew to give people what they wanted, be it controversy, sexual liberation, performance, costumes… in one word: Entertainment. He also knew to acknowledge when he had gone too far.

[I]t seemed obvious that the way to make money was give people what they want. So I started giving people what they wanted. And the downside of that is that I think it dried me up as an artist completely. Because I wasn’t used to doing that.
—David Bowie

David Bowie portrait

This last quote really summarizes David Bowie’s views on self-promotion

When you think about it, Adolf Hitler was the first pop star.
—David Bowie

On the Oldest Examples of Graphic Symbols in Paleolithic Cave Paintings

I find the extreme stylization of all prehistoric and primitive art fascinating. The figures found in cave paintings are a remarkable example of iconography and symbolism. I was recently captivated by 32 symbols that have been found in ancient caves all over Europe and TED has a fascinating talk about this topic.

Geometric Paleolithic Cave Paintings

Cave art found by Genevieve von Petzinger


The key to understanding the importance of these geometric paleolithic paintings lies in the repetition of the graphics used. These symbols appear multiple times, repeatedly across large expanses of time and space. This repetition means that the graphics were created by different individuals, and therefore the signs must carry specific meaning. If the images carry meaning, that means they were used as abstract symbols. These early geometric cave paintings were concepts two steps removed from the original (figurative representations being step one) and an example of non-ephemeral communication.

Man is a creature who walks in two worlds and traces upon the walls of his cave the wonders and the nightmare experiences of his spiritual pilgrimage.
—Morris West

On Freeing Ourselves From the Definition of Art

Art is what you can get away with.
—Andy Warhol

Defining “Art” is a timeless and meaningless pursuit. We are creative minds (and minds are creative, mind you). We are creators and our creations can have multiple interpretations. To label our creations into fixed buckets (art, craft, etc) is a disservice (and a tamper) to our capacity of creation.

It is presumptuous to think that as of today, we have seen all forms of cultural expression. Who is to say that in 10,000 years there will not be another form of human creation to be heralded up there next to Art, Literature, Math? My vote goes for repetition, memes and sarcasm as likely candidates.

Art, sold

At least we can always count on Andy Warhol to helps us tear down our definitions of art:

Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.
—Andy Warhol

Since today is the one day anniversary of Bowie’s death, let’s hear what he had to say

I suppose for me as an artist it wasn’t always just about expressing my work; I really wanted, more than anything else, to contribute in some way to the culture I was living in.
—David Bowie

David Bowie On His Influence and the Creative Process

Last night David Bowie left for the stars. Space Oddity is the one song that saved him from my dislike caused by his rather convincing performance of the goblin king in the movie “The Labyrinth” (at least it seemed convincing to a 10 year old).

I suppose for me as an artist it wasn’t always just about expressing my work; I really wanted, more than anything else, to contribute in some way to the culture that I was living in. It just seemed like a challenge to move it a little bit towards the way I thought it might be interesting to go.
—David Bowie

David Bowie

I believe that I often bring out the best in somebody’s talents.
—David Bowie

David has inspired many and left a great imprint in our popular culture (I will always thank him for coming up with Klaus Nomi’s galactic outfit.)

I’m always amazed that people take what I say seriously. I don’t even take what I am seriously.
—David Bowie

Preparing for the Show “Title: Self Portrait”

This is what I’ve been up to today. First framing a picture, only to immediately realize that it’s the wrong size for the show. Next thinking up, creating, printing and framing a second picture at the appropriate dimensions.

On the plus side I feel super productive.

Title Self-Portrait

wrong size picture on the left, correct size one on the right.

I ended up liking the concept of the second picture almost more than the first one. There is something of value to repeating work. Almost always we end up surpassing the original.

“What you do is what matters, not what you think or say or plan.”
Jason Fried, Rework