Take Two #148: How to Value Art

By Kyra-lin Hom

One of the first things you learn as a freelance artist is how many people expect you to work for free. Americans talk a good game when it comes to valuing the arts, but very few people are willing or able to put their money where their mouth is. And sadly, we artists perpetuate that process out of a desperation for exposure. In fact, this concept has become so distorted that those 'patrons' most able to pay often don't, instead assuming association with their name is currency enough.

Take, for example, Oprah's current, highly profitable “The Life you Want” national tour. Talk about ironic, this feel-good, ego-stroking show features speakers worth millions to billions of dollars (the big O.W. herself) and charges up to $1k per ticket. Yet it decided that the best way to live up to its 'live the dream' message was to request struggling, local, professional artists to perform on an outdoor side stage for free.

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Take Two #146: News for the Goldfish Generation

By Kyra-lin Hom

Jumping into the middle of a good story is difficult. The main characters have already been introduced. The premise has already been laid out. Usually most of the rules of the world have already been established. And it gets harder the more complex the story. So tell me, why do we treat the events of the real world – as complicated and nuanced as stories get – like stand-alone chapters?

For convenience sake, current events have become a quick series of latest news blurbs, quick info splashes with limited context. This style works well for 'meatless' announcements. For example, believe it or not one of the 'top stories' on my droid's news feed was the potential casting of Benedict Cumberbatch as Marvel Comic's live version of Dr. Strange. And...yup. That's pretty much all you need to know about that story. If you don't know what any of that means, trust me, you don't care.

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Take Two #145: Selling Thin

By Kyra-lin Hom

If you're not a female teen bopper (or closely tied to the spending habits of one), you've probably never heard of Brandy Melville. It's an Italian clothing and accessory brand that hopped the Atlantic in 2009. It has since skyrocketed to become one of the top teen clothing brands in the U.S. largely due to a brilliantly orchestrated marketing scheme. And whether you love it or hate it, you have to agree it has worked.

At its simplest, that scheme is one of exclusivity. Brandy Melville clothing is very affordable, but it only comes in one size. The labels read “one-size-fits-most,” and their website provides measurements for the clothing itself rather than offering multiple size options. And those measurements are tiny – very rarely anything above a modern size 2.

Their ad campaigns feature waif-like Caucasian teen girls with long blond hair and coquettish, girl-next-door charm. It's a carefully crafted brand image. Wear Brandy Melville and there's no question of how thin you are. Anyone who didn't think this was going to take high schools by storm doesn't know teen girls.

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