Commentary: Arts branding needs more than a haircut

Greg Sandow on his ArtsJournal blog , 1/30/12

After I taught my class about branding -- using an Apple-gadget charger and some chocolate -- one of my students gave a branding example: Lang Lang's haircut. You know it's him, as soon as you see his hair.  And a few commenters here decried branding as shallow, surface stuff. But remember that the chocolates -- with their varied shapes, and varied-color wrapping -- look different because they're different inside. And that's what branding ought to be about: What you are inside. Which then shows on the outside, and makes people remember you. So it's more than a haircut. If Lang Lang wasn't an arresting pianist, his haircut wouldn't do him much good. For branding that comes from the inside, think (for one example), of the two most famous operatic tenors of the 1960s. Franco Corelli was virile, with a huge, silver voice, and thrilling passion. Carlo Bergonzi was limpid, pure, authentic, transparent. More stylish, too, people said. Two brands! Recognizable in an instant, though no one thought that these two were branded. They just were who they were. But we now can see this was their brand.


Commentary: Becoming a better arts collaborator is like getting a haircut

Nick Sherrard, Arts Professional magazine, 2/5/12

Collaboration has become a key funding buzzword along with 'innovation' and the related 'partnership working.' Whether it's a creative collaboration, a desire to gain a greater sense of togetherness across different departments, or brokering new links to an external body, collaboration is a recurring theme. So it is perhaps strange that we are not more used to being asked questions about whether we are any good at it, and how we might get better. I've come to express it like this: we need to realise that becoming a better collaborator is a lot less like visiting a plastic surgeon, and a lot more like visiting a hairdresser. Everyone can now see how important collaboration is to their working lives, so it can feel quite exposing to think about ways we could do it better. If you question how good someone is at collaborating what they hear is you questioning them on how good they are at their job. It is like we've identified a fault in them; an ugliness that needs fixing. It is like we've suggested they need plastic surgery. In fact, collaboration is much more like hairdressing. When a hairdresser suggests a cut we don't think they see our hair as in some way defective. We are pretty comfortable with the idea that we need some help to get it into shape. We are accepting of the fact that a bad hair day doesn't mean we are congenitally unable to style our hair ever again; we pretty much accept that this is an ongoing thing with hair. And similarly you might need to go back and get your collaborative skills into shape every now and again.


In Sweden, free haircuts and a discussion of the arts' role in world change

Website of the collective "The Haircut Before The Party"

Inspired by the recent movements of protest and resistance around the world, The Institute of Continuation invites the public to test and investigate alternative sites of learning; sites where ideas, personal experiences and worries about present societal conditions can be shared, understood and acted upon. [On Feb 11th] the one-day discussion forum The Cut manifests itself as a hair salon, a hair-trigger platform of unmoderated conversation and instantaneous change. The Cut will invite the public for a free hair-cut and an opportunity to have their say on current issues, educational tradition, and the place art institutions can or could play within this. Young artists, activists, and curators will be invited to make The Cut into a non-hierarchical site of knowledge exchange through the re-arrangement of physical space. Taking place every second Monday afternoon, The Institute of Continuation exists as a site for dialogue among young artists who have an interest in sharing and expanding their knowledge in the field of contemporary art. Topics that emerge from the weekly conversations sometimes lead to performances, talks or exhibitions at different sites in Stockholm.

FROM TC: Here is more background about The Haircut Before The Party [which began as] a free hairdressing salon in [London's Whitechapel district], "giving you the cuts you want and talking about the cuts you don't." The salon opened [last] summer as part of the Arts Admin festival of art, performance and activism, Two Degrees. Richard Houguez, part of The Haircut Before The Party collective explains: "We offer cuts for free as a gesture of friendship, in a similar way to how people have their hair cut by friends or family at home. On the high street, we've tried to create a social space that supports relationships based on commitment and trust. Over the last 6 months we've allowed a space for different communities to overlap and exchange conversations."


In Dallas/Ft Worth, bartering art for a haircut spurs a larger movement

Maddie Grussendorf,, 10/31/11

During a time when excess funds are scarce and few of us find justification in spending $75 for a haircut, artist Patricia Rodriguez addresses our problems by reintroducing an idea from the past: bartering. Rodriguez was inspired to create the Facebook group "Bartering Artists (DFW)" after her status on needing a haircut, but not having the extra cash to spend, sparked the idea of taking money out of the exchange. We caught up with Rodriguez to get some more info on the origins of the group, the artists participating, and where she plans to go from here:

"It seemed at first we had a good amount of 'artisans,' (knitters, crocheters, painters, potters) and we seemed to have more artists than 'service people.' Art for art trades seemed prevalent, which is wonderful because as artists you always want to support your fellow artists but most likely can't afford to collect art....The variety of people in the group is very exciting now! We have everything from web designers, videographers, chiropractors, lawyers, home repair professionals, galleries, chefs, scuba instructors, tattoo artists, massage therapists, yoga instructors, tutors... It has sparked people to start creating solely for the purpose of bartering. It has created an awareness of the value of their work and skill.... I see through the success of the DFW group that there is a great need for this. I am hoping to see this grow beyond my city and have people collecting art and trading services everywhere. Getting health and dental and much needed services can be a reality the more this thing grows so I want it to expand as far as it can."

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