His Majesty, the Queen!
Her Most Loyal Servant, Sir Richard Wadd, Topographer
Commercial Exploitation of the Enchanted Forest
You asked me to reflect philosophically and experimentally upon the ArtMarket, seeking a Mercantile Framework by which Your Noble Government may reap just financial rewards from the costly Expeditions recently returned from abroad.
To do so Honourably, I procured from a Magician six (6) Crystal Balls, and spent several weeks grinding them each into a powerful analytical Lens.
Equipped with these Six Lenses of OPTIMYTHIC Valuation, I arranged them in various focal-length combinations in order to divine a fair and justifiable Price for each of the FairyTotems that Your Grace has so gloriously brought to Market.
With Your Majesty's deep indulgence, I shall in the following paragraphs describe the shape and refractive properties of each Lens, thus to provide a crisper image of an overall Pricing Strategy.
1) The Weight of Credentials
The ArtMarket uses a simple, easy-to-understand, three-tiered stratification system for determining the relative financial command of living artists:
Artists are encouraged to self-apply such labels, but far more often the labels are given by others – people who look at, write about, show, trade, or collect from the output of artists.
This system makes good and rational Sense. It's built upon the responsible premise that an artist's curriculum vitae ought to grow – and be seen to grow – line by exhaustive line, as each new exhibit or event or publication or degree is accrued. A long and distinguished curriculum vitae is the ArtMarket's best assurance that an artist really and truly is "Established," allowing his or her art to command whatever price it may.
Through this Lens, credentials become the quantitative metric with which to quickly assign a value judgment to any artist at Market. By this metric, Your Majesty's kingdom appears at first blush to be classified as "Emerging". Yet Your Majesty's Noble Government is hardly a new Enterprise, for it is broad and enlightened, with interests and accomplishments reaching far beyond the narrow confines of the ArtMarket. Your Grace needs hardly be reminded of a host of award-winning short films exhibited at International film festivals. Your Grace recalls three lucrative years as a Professional Screenwriter in Hollywood, and, following that, several more unprofitable years as a Professional Screenwriter in Toronto. Undaunted, Your Grace wisely extracted Her Noble Government from the screen trade altogether, preferring instead to pursue more interesting adventures in other mediums. Your Grace wrote and directed and produced a theatrical 1-Act Play, from which Your Grace was moved to write and deploy a series of websites onto the Internet, from which Your Noble Government's interests expanded even further Westward, beyond the coast of Infinite Sunsets, into deeper and evermore hazardous Expeditions.
Your Majesty has been Web-spinning now for 15 years. Your online deployments are substantive in some places and skeletal in others, yet as a collection of cyber-spatial stories, they continue to grow. Updates are incremental and occasional, but each new round of network deployments contributes to the tensile strength of the whole.
All to say: Your Majesty's latest Enterprise in FairyTotems is but the most recently polished facet of a much larger artistic Gem, and this Exhibition is but one of many public permutations of its sparkling Truth. Your Majesty is thus strongly advised to see OPTIMYTHIC as a "Mid-Career" milestone on the road to full self-expression, and, with The Weight of Credentials properly calibrated, Your Noble Government should take pains to Price each Piece accordingly.
2) The Practicalities of Life
Sir Cadence Fapcannon has provided detailed time-logs of when he harvested each FairyTotem. His obsessive and ridiculous logic appears to have been thus: "If 'tis appropriate for lawyers to do it, then by God, so shall Her Majesty's Noble Government!"
To be sure, lawyers are not the only professionals who make their living according to the principle of "Billable Hours," but they're certainly the most beloved. The work they do is concrete, necessary, and pure, so it's only right that they charge their clients and earn their wage in atomized units of Law-Doing. Their Billable Hourly Rate is often a function of how long they've been practicing Law, and whether they're any good at it. But the point, Your Grace, is this:
[Total Hours Doing] X [Hourly Rate] = [Price of Service]
By this calculus, we need merely to consult Sir Cadence Fapcannon's time-logs and discover how long it took him to recover each FairyTotem. Then, we need merely to set Your Noble Government's Hourly Rate at something akin to what a modest Lawyer might charge. Then, using the miracle of Math, we may effectively determine a modest Price for each FairyTotem, ensuring that each is valued according to a systematic and reasonable mechanism by which no single Piece is above the law, and no single PleasureBomb receives special treatment over any other.
Through this Lens, the Practicalities of Life remind us that Your Majesty's Noble Government ought to be able to "Earn a Living." From this, it follows that Your Majesty's Hourly Rate should ideally be back-calculated to take into fair account the many years of unpaid thinking, experimenting, and skill-building that were required to finally arrive at the Plans with which Sir Cadence conducted his dangerous Expedition into the Enchanted Forest. Your Majesty is thus strongly advised not to undervalue Her Noble Government's Hourly Rate.
3) The Vanities of Consumption
In the ArtMarket, much of the valuation appears to be dependent on whether people admire or understand what any random artist is presenting, and, if not, whether they convincingly fake it. Fashion and Politics loom large as one looks through this Lens. So too does blind Luck and sweet Serendipity.
If, through any number of unknowable reasons, the ArtMarket determines that a random artist is "Kewl," this Lens becomes powerfully refractive. Suddenly, one becomes aware of a wide Spectrum of Fame upon which artists and their work may be compared and contrasted according to their celebrity status among collectors.
Following the death of an artist, the Spectrum of Fame expands even further into the years and centuries beyond her or his Time. From this ever-lengthening perspective, the value of an artist's output can be assessed both inside the frame of a complete lifetime, and, salon-style, in relation to the many artists who lived conTemporarily.
However, as Time is a slippery thing, innumerable factors soon begin to eclipse or amplify the Fame of a departed artist, such that Prices pinned upon Pieces may deflate or inflate unpredictably. For instance, after a lifetime of anonymous and obscure living, a long-dead artist may suddenly become celebrated, and, conversely, an artist who enjoyed broad and confetti'd success during life may Fade to oblivion as new theories and fashions take hold.
Through this Lens, we discover that Collectors and their proclivities are almost as much fun to contemplate as artists and their neuroses. Many Collectors see their collections as financial investments, and a few, like hedge fund managers, seek to game the ArtMarket in the hopes of artificially inflating the dollar value of their portfolio of Vanities. Other Collectors care little for the financial game, preferring instead to become wildly conversant in the biographical or aesthetic particulars of an individual or epoch.
Your Grace is strongly advised to avoid excessive gazing through this particular Lens. Further, when gazing, Your Grace is strongly advised to peer with eXtreme caution. Indeed, through this Lens, any random Price that is pinned upon any random Piece is an exercise in Absurdity.
4) The Novelty of Ideas
Your Grace is encouraged to view the ArtMarket as but a subset of a much larger ArtWorld, and, thankfully, this ArtWorld broadens the scope of Valuation by privileging the Novelty of Ideas and the freshness of their eXpression. Through this Lens, people look to artists as the re-invigorators and re-birthers and re-truthers of the cultural record. Artists are eXpected to say new and interesting things, to challenge and interrogate the status quo, and, when the status quo refuses to budge, to put a dead shark in a glass tank (twice) and invite viewers to marvel at the astonishing cruelties of Conceptual Art.
To be sure, this Lens can create many strange and mind-boggling diffusions of light. For instance, when improperly aligned, it can lead to lengthy tracts of boring artSpeak – a pseudo-intellectual, academicologically farcical babble that adds little of interest to the art at hand. Alternatively, if cracked, chipped, scratched, or dirtied, this Lens can reveal the tragic and hilarious spectacle of foolish Collectors paying vast sums of money for pretentious blusters of silliness which can charitably be described as "Crap."
Happily, neither of these distortions appears to be evident in the present, OPTIMYTHIC case. On the contrary, when looking through this Lens, Your Majesty's Noble Government appears wildly original and thrillingly intelligent, glittering with a uniquely appealing luster. Your Grace needs hardly to be reminded of how hard Your loyal clown servants work to cultivate Your most honest and original thoughts, and how ardently we strive to always eXpress them as courageously and faithfully as we can. As a result, Your Majesty is strongly advised to gaze long and generously through this very special Lens, wherein many rewarding insights await You.
5) The Aspiration of Seekers
Your Majesty may rest assured that many Collectors are moved not merely by financial or intellectual considerations. Indeed, such enlightened souls will often curate for themselves a personal collection of art that amplifies and strengthens the emotional and spiritual foundations of their lives.
As such, they are drawn to any art whose frequencies of expression resonate deeply upon the strings and hollows of their breast. Collectors who view and acquire art through this Lens generally respond to work that is deeply infused with the power to evoke narrative possibilities and subtly suggest avenues of imaginative eXploration. The easiest way for art to eXude such qualities is if the artist herself embraces them during the harvesting period.
In the present case, Your Grace may proudly boast to have financed an authentic and glorious Expedition whose results are indisputably and self-evidently Spiritual. Indeed, each of the FairyTotems here displayed clearly encourages potential Collectors to seriously and soberly consider their own PleasureBombing activities, and, if subsequently purchased, will no doubt lead to many years of inspired PleasureMaking.
6) The Imperium of Craft
The imperative Power of a perfectly eXploded PleasureBomb has an instant and seductive effect on the well-trained eye. It speaks immediately in many languages on several tracks at once, boasting of the skill and aspiration of its Creators. This signal – this outbound statement to the world – is called "Craft."
Craft is the gleaming and irridescent skin that sits on top of an unseen body of struggle and success, attempt and failure, curiosity and obstacle, ambivalence and breakthrough. It is both obvious and understated, eXisting quietly amid its environs as a beacon to those who seek and can percieve it.
At the same time, Craft is the inevitable result of a FairyCouple that continually challenges itself to push ever farther and ever deeper into the uncharted regions of PleasurePossibility. As such, Craft has an allure and an appeal; a dark, indigo spark of ineffible energy that commands attention, inspires emotion, and lodges in the memory of esteem. Craft is noble in the face of callous indifference, courageous in the path of destruction, sanguine in the clamour of ignorance, and resilient across the march of Time.
Through this Lens, any random Price that is pinned upon any random Piece is a Jesture of hard-won Wisdom.
A Focused Pricing Strategy
Having precisely ground each of the crystal balls into Six Lenses of OPTIMYTHIC Valuation, I arranged them in multiple configurations in order to peer through them and Divine an acceptably arbitrary dollar amount that Your Majesty may confidently pin upon each of the FairyTotems here displayed.
In response, the ArtMarket will either ignore the entire effort, or, more Optimythically, will spread its ears and listen in a number of unpredictable ways.
It may Fokus on The Weight of Credentials;
It may Phoquess on The Practicalities of Life;
It may Faux-Cuss on The Vanities of Consumption;
It may PhwhQs on The Novelty of Ideas;
It may FhoKiss on The Aspiration of Seekers;
It may Phoekusz on The Imperium of Craft.
Regardless of how the ArtMarket chooses to consummate these FairyTotems, Your Majesty may rest assured that the Department of the Treasury remains vibrant and vital, with a deep root, a stout trunk, and a broad crown of colour.
Key to this vitality, of course, is always to ensure that the Enchanted Forest remains a sacred and strategic asset of Your Majesty's Noble Government, central to its Personal Interests, Economic Security, and Spiritual Health.
May Your Majesty's wisdom shine forevermore in sun-ripened sweetness, moon-kissed wonder, and star-touched intelligence! Beneath its Eternal Glory, I remain, most humbly and faithfully,
Sir Richard Wadd