Tweet Whether anyone wants to admit it (or not), Americans have a religious devotion to celebrities. Our culture is based on this new type of celebrity-theocracy. Look at the massively popular “American Idol,” a manufacturing plant for making idols, theocratic … Read More →
Whether anyone wants to admit it (or not), Americans have a religious devotion to celebrities. Our culture is based on this new type of celebrity-theocracy. Look at the massively popular “American Idol,” a manufacturing plant for making idols, theocratic in its audience participation constituent. A trip to the supermarket displays the various tracts covering the tenets of our celebrity movement. How many websites cover celebrity news? How many television programs are dedicated to the celebrity?
There is one crucial problem. In the Judeo-Christian sense, celebrities don’t behave very God-like. They’re more likely to get thrown into rehab or start controversies, or like Narcissus, they get stuck at the mirror of fame, unable to see what is going on around them. The doctrine of traditional faith is chiefly about self-improvement through selflessness in order to promote stronger communities. Selflessness is not a very celebrity-type thing to do, and serving with humility is not normally part of the celebrity skill-set.
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition represents a strong shift in the paradigm of our celebrity-dominated culture. The thing that makes this show phenomenal is its depictions of celebrities acting not like celebrities. Rather, the show presents celebrities being humble, serving others, assisting communities, and in the process brings these communities together, much like the way a religious conviction might serve the public.
EMHE is the celebrity-driven, hyper-philanthropic show working good in the lives of deserving families and communities. It combines the new celebrity-theocracy with the traditional functions of faith, such as promoting welfare and unification of the community, and presents the message as spectacle. Who doesn’t want to be part of that movement?
This is why the entire staff of Gallery Direct is thrilled be involved with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. We consider it a great privledge to donate the artwork for season eight. We are humbled when we think about what the show does, who the show helps and what the show represents.
So while Mrs. Hillary Rodham-Clinton’s “it takes a village to raise a child” philosophy has often been debated and criticized over the years, one thing seems apparent in the eight season run of EMHE: It takes a celebrity to raise a village.
Tweet On the 26th of September, 2010, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’s 8th season premieres on ABC at 8/7c. Earlier this year, the producers of the show contacted Gallery Direct, unexpectedly, and asked us to donate artwork for the entire season. … Read More →
On the 26th of September, 2010, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’s 8th season premieres on ABC at 8/7c. Earlier this year, the producers of the show contacted Gallery Direct, unexpectedly, and asked us to donate artwork for the entire season. We were thrilled to sign the agreement shortly thereafter. If you read our blog, you know Gallery Direct is fascinated with reality television, celebrity culture and spectacle. Moreover, we are constantly examining how these affect modern mankind and influence communication because entertainment is the metaphor for all discourse.
Before we continue, we’d like to say a few words about our involvement with EMHE. The entire staff of Gallery Direct is simultaneously excited and humbled to be involved with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. We consider it a great honor to donate the artwork for season eight. We are truly thankful to play a small part in improving the circumstances of the many families and communities, which the show assists each year.
One aspect of the show we value is the truth in advertising its own over-the-top-ness. Perfectly named Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, the show creates hyper-remodels for families in great need, and every aspect of the show is measured in extremes. Week after week, the undertaking and end result are astonishing. An extremely short build-time of one week translates to an extremely large effort in order to recreate or completely replace the family’s home. This requires hyper-involvement from the community where the beneficiaries reside, the contribution of skilled and unskilled volunteers, the large-scale coordination of industry players such as the various builders, and the participation of manufacturers such as Gallery Direct. We are a specialty producer of fine art limited editions and image-based products.
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is the standout show of standout shows, remarkable and unique in its ability to merge our over-the-top BLING! culture with hyper-philanthropy for the purposes of entertainment, where the community-en-masse participates in a heroic feat. Each week’s staged grassroots spectacle creates very real results, measured in blood, sweat, and tears. This is why watching the show is often a visceral experience. The good the show does is extremely tangible. EMHE is an entertainment program that is the delivery vehicle for benevolent goodwill. So, if “the road to hell is paved with good intentions,” then the road to heaven surely must be paved with feats such these.
Read Part II
Tweet Remember the television miniseries? These were national/cultural events affecting every local community back in the day. If the content wasn’t too risqué, maybe the parental units would let you stay up late to watch? Ah, then the talk about the … Read More →
Remember the television miniseries? These were national/cultural events affecting every local community back in the day. If the content wasn’t too risqué, maybe the parental units would let you stay up late to watch? Ah, then the talk about the miniseries at school the next day! Cute girls fawning over The Thorn Birds. “Oh man, pretend to know what they’re talking about,” I would think to myself. The bigger budgets, the pre-premiere hype. Shogun, Thorn Birds, V, Roots, North and South, The Winds of War, Rich Man, Poor Man. These were a huge deal, like the Super Bowl except for the arts.
The “eventiness” of the miniseries is over. Unlike the Super Bowl, these are out of fashion, like a dedicated home landline, hooked to an answering machine. In fact, the Super Bowl is a relic, which adapted to dominate the collective consciousness unlike any other spectacle. Even the World Series, sports precursor to the television miniseries, isn’t as part of the national consciousness as it was in the past.
The miniseries became unnecessary as every worthwhile television series is available online or delivered by Netflix. Eavesdropping on your co-workers conversation about an unfamiliar T.V. show? Hull yourself up in the house over the weekend and catch up by Monday morning. Our household heard Mad Men was amazing. We were caught up in a week or so. Just like that. We don’t think about entertainment the way we did in the 1970s or 1980s.
Things change. When you’re the only game in town, you make the rules, the way the three networks did back before the cable television explosion and the internet. Entertainment then, a handful of channels, a handful of sports. Entertainment today, millions of channels, countless new sports. Is this a good thing? Go back and rent an old miniseries such as North and South. You tell me.
At gallerydirect.com, we look at the way artwork WAS brought to you like a miniseries. It had its place, but its time has come and gone. Fine art on par with our quality used to be super-expensive. A trip to the custom frame shop was painful and the stuff everyday households could afford was made cheaply. The selection of finer “brick & mortar” stores were limited by whims of their buyer’s aesthetic.
We were examining high level marketing strategies this week, particularly “branding.” What would Gallery Direct be, if we were a television entity, series, genre, channel or whatnot? PBS? The Thorn Birds? The Super Bowl? We would probably be YouTube. We’re pretty much just a facilitator—albeit a sophisticated facilitator—to the user, who creates world class artwork by harnessing millions of images or uploading their own, then customizing it to their specific needs, sent to us instantly and created on the fly.
Will cute girls talk about us before the bell rings for class? Probably not. That’s okay, their moms love us.
Tweet This week our team examined a month’s worth of customer comments. Although there was feedback regarding our recent site improvements, the vast majority of customer comments were rave reviews about the artwork itself, i.e. the images hanging in their … Read More →
This week our team examined a month’s worth of customer comments. Although there was feedback regarding our recent site improvements, the vast majority of customer comments were rave reviews about the artwork itself, i.e. the images hanging in their homes. We were touched by the positive connections our customers have with their new artwork.
Over ten years in the art business has taught Gallery Direct many things. A decade ago, we participated in national art shows (called trade shows). These are exhibits where art companies show their stuff, are forced to socialize with their competitors, and pretend to like them. We quickly learned everything we needed to know. First, the mien of the industry players was something we found off-putting. A lot of snobbery and tony fronts abound in the art world. Second, not one of the players is what we would call business-minded. These were two traits we didn’t feel like emulating, so we bounced from the trade show commitment.
Any business person knows: you have to work for your supper. It wasn’t hard to figure out the other established fine art publishers were not doing so. Instead, they were in the business of selling a positive illusion to the end consumer, and the price of the illusion was steep. Traditionally speaking, an art publisher signs artists, releases and markets the artists’ work. But who’s printing it? Who’s framing it? Not the publisher. Outside vendors are handling the manufacturing. With every layer, channel or hand in the pot the cost of the artwork goes up and up. So, having fine art limited editions on the wall was cost prohibitive to most Americans. This didn’t sit well with us.
We quickly moved to be a vertically integrated solution for art lovers, handling artist and art acquisition, scanning, printing, framing, and marketing. Since this became our business model, we took it one step further. Why not offer customization of each image and on the fly? Moreover, vertical integration means we were also able to react to the changes in home fashion faster than any fine art publisher in the world.
- Reacting to the market on a macro-level, finding artwork and directing artists to meet the needs of the ever-changing trends in color and home fashion.
- Interacting with the end user, the customer, on a micro-level, via our website with all its customization features.
There is no one offering what we offer, anywhere in the world. We are thankful our customers love their new artwork, but the price is the reason it hangs on their walls. Before Gallery Direct moved to vertical integration, our artwork was selling for 6 to 9 times more than it is today. Sad, but true story.
The artwork of Gallery Direct is 100% created by artists and photographers and 100% recreated by our staff using technology that is off the hook. To this very day, when I walk through the facility, I say to myself, “DAYUM! That’s a lot of high-tech equipment.” The folks running the technology, recreating the art, framing each image, and sending it out our back door work in a series of independent cells. It looks reminiscent of the Paper Street House in the movie Fight Club. We invested millions in this technology to produce world class fine art, not junk, not posters. We make real art at an affordable price, eons away from the ersatz snobbery of the past.
While we’re all used to the “Designed in California” “Assembled in China” messaging of Apple, which is an attempt to make you feel better about a foreign made product. Nice try. Understand this: our artwork is designed all over the globe, customized by you and assembled in Austin, Texas. You can feel awesome about that. We do.
Thanks again to everyone loving their new artwork and passing the positive feedback our way. We are nothing without our customers.
Tweet It’s fascinating how many digital photo printing sites are fighting for a page one google ranking. Why are there so many photo to canvas printing sites? More people have digital cameras and businesses want to make money from this … Read More →
It’s fascinating how many digital photo printing sites are fighting for a page one google ranking. Why are there so many photo to canvas printing sites? More people have digital cameras and businesses want to make money from this market for ultra-personalized artwork. But, why do folks want to turn their lives into artwork? That’s the question, and the answer’s as obvious as a 25-carat cubic zirconia: “BLING!”
Two small New York subcultures captured the media attention in the mid-1970s, Punk and Hip Hop (sorry England, you can’t take credit for birthing the Punk, only proliferating it). Little did we know it at the time, but these two subcultures would battle it out to become the dominant marketing-cultural paradigms of the Western World. Let’s meet our candidates.
Both Punk and Hip Hop are “folk” movements, not in a musical sense, but in a grassroots sense. The subcultures gave hope to their participants though artistic expression, simultaneously creating unity while seeking empowerment. The different tools the subcultures employed were not limited to music, but also included how you speak, how you dress, and how you move. Both subcultures used the DIY (do-it-yourself) mantra to unify and increase the member-base, and provided very basic requirements for their members. The DIY mantra then expands to “Just do it,” express yourself first, worry about progressing your talent second. Can’t play your guitar very well? That’s not a requisite to be on stage; use what you’ve got to convey your message (Punk ethos). Can’t sing? You can rap; you just need something to say (Hip Hop ethos).
Where the two subcultures greatly differ is in their view of the Establishment. Hip Hop always sought to become part of it, to attain the values, the objects, and the status of the Establishment. Punk sought to destroy those values.
Moreover, Punk, rooted in Western-culture, reinforced self-deprecation as a means to stand-out for its participants. This is a very European concept to make fun of yourself. Hip Hop, rooted in African-culture, reinforced self-glorification as a means to stand-out. This is the dominant cultural standard in the Western World today, to stand-out, to say “LOOK AT ME.” This is why today Hip Hop is still Hip Hop, but Punk--with its destroy the establishment and self-deprecation message--morphed or splintered into many different movements: Indie-rock, Post Punk, Emo, Hipster, and the like. Likewise, regardless of how one’s talent pushes the artist to success, the artist must always be leery of his talent and the Establishment, celebrating it.
In the end, maybe it’s better to kill yourself and avoid becoming part of the Establishment? As evidenced in the suicides of Ian Curtis of Joy Division and Kurt Cobain of Nirvana. Do you think Jay-Z or Kanye would ever “off” themselves? Hell No.
In contrast to Punk’s self-deprecation is Hip Hop’s belief that the individual and the celebration of the individual are paramount. No matter your income bracket or talent level, people should shine like stars, BLING! Hip Hop’s greatest contribution to the world is BLING! You matter most; start acting like it, even if it proceeds your current status. Conceive + Believe = Achieve.
So while you might hear a Ramones' song selling cars or a Clash tune hocking soda, the world we live in is not Punkland, but Planet Hip Hop. Today’s world is about self-celebration, not self-deprecation. Advertising revolves around self-celebration. Television revolves around self-celebration and is the chief contributing factor to the proliferation of Reality TV and YouTube. BLING!, where everyday people shine like stars. So, why are there so many digital photo canvas printing sites? BLING!- consumer products revolve around self-celebration, too.
BLING! is for any income bracket, from Oprah to Jessi Slaughter. Canvas Photo Printing is a medium, offering a low cost, high-quality solution to turn yourself into a work of art™. You don’t need to commission an artist to celebrate your fabulous life. You can just upload and have it turned into wall decor.
We sell an astronomical amount of photos on canvas. We’ve been at this for ten years, and we’re amazed the orders show no signs of slowing down. We’re launching a micro-site, dedicated to handling just photo upload. It will be very easy to use with an incredibly slick design; because things need to be simple, so people can get back to their fabulous lives. Aside from our quality and price being the best for digital photo canvas printing, the user will not be limited to just canvas. Just like gallerydirect.com, the new micro-site will offer alternative media and framing options. BLING! If you really want to celebrate your fabulousness, you might consider printing your digital photo on a mirror!
Footnote: Eminem blew up to hyper-stardom because he was the first to mix the self-deprecation of the Punk-tradition into Hip Hop, a little something for everyone.
Tweet Animal and bird artwork might be linked to man’s primal need more than any other genre. The cave paintings at Lascaux, in the Dordogne of France, are some of the earliest (circa-15,000 B.C.) depictions of animals inside a home: … Read More →
Animal and bird artwork might be linked to man’s primal need more than any other genre. The cave paintings at Lascaux, in the Dordogne of France, are some of the earliest (circa-15,000 B.C.) depictions of animals inside a home: primitive wall decor. Noticeably absent among the 2000 images are any representations of landscape or vegetation.
It seems ancient man needed to stay connected to faunae over florae. While the need to have food, clothing and shelter is apparent for our world and ancient mankind, the need to stay linked to animals, using artwork also seems vital. Are the folks who purchase animal and bird art today more in touch with their caveman side?
Does it mean civilization is programmed to celebrate animals, but the environment, not so much? Or, as man moved out of cave-shelters into urban centers, learned how to domesticate animals and readily kill any that were a threat, the need to depict the animal kingdom tapered? Gallery Direct has a massive selection of artwork celebrating fauna and flora. The categories are popular; but in the end, we sell much more landscape and botanical artwork than animal and bird prints.
We live in one of the “greenest” cities in America: Austin, TX, which also happens to be one of the most “pet friendly” cities on the planet. We talk a lot about respecting the environment, right before we get into our automobiles and drive to Whole Foods. What would the inhabitants of ancient Lascaux think of that?
Tweet We recently signed a new artist to a limited edition publishing agreement. Her name is Peggy Weiss, and her work is unique among our collection of artists. It’s a new, digital version of pasticcio. In the art world, the … Read More →
We recently signed a new artist to a limited edition publishing agreement. Her name is Peggy Weiss, and her work is unique among our collection of artists. It’s a new, digital version of pasticcio. In the art world, the pasticcio (in French, pastiche) is a composition made from a selection of different works.
Peggy utilizes snapshots and deconstructs and reassembles them into convincing works of art, applying—as she goes—her own personal touches with the broad range of instruments available to the digital artist today, such as a mac, networked to a scanner and digital tablet, Photoshop, and various other imaging tools.
Peggy’s take on the pasticcio is one of the most unique we’ve seen, slightly edgy, at times haunting, and always familiar lyrical renditions of past and narrative future. We don’t see many submissions from artists working in pastiche, so when we found an artist in our own backyard (Austin, TX), making compelling pasticcio, we were thrilled to sign her.
Some critics find pasticcio dangerous, viewing it as a force that seeks to negate the traditional/ancient genres of art. Why? Put simply: painters paint; Sculptors sculpt. A traditional artist is not likely to learn/use a host of new digital tools in order to create art, when a paintbrush and canvas suffice. Moreover, the traditionalists are troubled by pasticcio’s use of existing images or source material to create new, original artwork. We think it’s ironic the “fine arts”—anchored in the strictest traditional parameters—are the last to embrace the dominant paradigm of this age: recycling copies of the familiar to create a new original. This is one definition of hyperrealism. Who do we thank for this brave new world? Hip Hop and Andy Warhol.
Hip Hop and Warhol
In the mid-1970s, a DJ first used two turntables to create new music, blending different existing sourced material, recorded on vinyl records. The New York subculture Hip Hop was born. The originality comes in the combination or the blending of original sourced material rather than creating what is completely new. This New York subculture is now the mainstream. Look at popular music today. You’ll hear previously recorded beats, bass-lines and melodic hooks from past familiar songs, recycled to create a new release. First, because the sourced material has merit (meaning it’s good). Second, because the familiarity of the material creates endearment in the audience. Isn’t this what Andy Warhol did? Recycling copies of the familiar to create a new reality. And the kids go wild. . .
Three Ways to Look at Art
Some people may say there is no art working with copies. We disagree. But then again we are the largest fine art limited edition publisher, printmaker and artisan framer in the world. Our specialty is selling copies of original sourced material. What is art anyway? First, I’ve read art, along with science and philosophy, seeks to order (meaning make sense of) chaos. Second, others might say (new) art seeks to destroy the dominant artistic paradigms or conventions of the past. Third, for many of our customers, art is something to purchase because it goes with their sofa. If you are in the latter referenced group (or any combination of the three for that matter), you might consider our new pasticcio artist, Peggy Weiss. She’s current, just edgy enough, and her artwork would look great over your sofa!
Tweet Sometimes, it can be very painful listening to feedback and the egos of our developers get a little bruised. But having the best selection of fully customizable artwork online doesn’t amount to much if usability is an issue. So … Read More →
Sometimes, it can be very painful listening to feedback and the egos of our developers get a little bruised. But having the best selection of fully customizable artwork online doesn't amount to much if usability is an issue. So we solicited feedback from you and worked with a couple of third party quality assurance (QA) folks. We listened, rolled up our sleeves, and improved our site for you.
Here's the list of site modifications, added to improve usability and your overall experience.
Advanced Filters by Subject
At a high-level, browse through various art subjects/themes quickly. Nice.
Advanced Filters by Artist
Quickly search through all the artists. Just like that.
Check out the search by color function. Find exactly what you need. Easily match artwork to your wall color, furnishings and home accents. Accessorize away!
We also added a Help section, outlining our satisfaction guarantee, shipping policy, return guidelines, and site FAQ. How cool is that?
Other improvements include:
We re-designed the header and left bar navigation menus to be more intuitive. Navigate faster than ever.
The art product pages now display larger images and more descriptive keyword phrases to help you narrow down the search.
Check out the new "Others also Bought" section on category and product pages to help provide more art ideas.
We added a product carousel on the home page. This helps you see our most popular bestsellers.
Don't you love it when companies actually do what you say? We're really listening to your comments. Please keep them coming.
Tweet We think the digital camera might be one of the most significant inventions of all time, particularly, the gazillion megapixel cameras of today. The digital camera didn’t close down photo development sites or put photographers, en masse, out of … Read More →
We think the digital camera might be one of the most significant inventions of all time, particularly, the gazillion megapixel cameras of today.
The digital camera didn't close down photo development sites or put photographers, en masse, out of work. The digital camera's contribution is simple, yet profound: the amount of people capturing time increased exponentially.
Recently, our friends at Fotolia taught us a new term, "the happy accident." It's that one image out of dozens or even hundreds, which makes you go, "WOW!" The one that looks like a professional took the picture, the one that says I have to upload it and turn it into hang-able wall decor. The image that makes you say, "I want my photo as canvas wall art, or framed on paper, or recreated as art on metal, acrylic, or even mirror."
At Gallery Direct, we've now reproduced thousands of happy accidents for customers. Most of the images are absolutely stunning. If the photo upload user could consistently reproduce images such as the ones we've turned into wall art, we would sign some of these folks to limited edition fine art publishing agreements. Therein marks the difference between professional and amateur photographers.
A professional photographer can capture compelling images readily and without fail. An amateur photographer, such as my 13 year old niece, will take about 2500 pictures to find one happy accident!
Tweet A close friend of mine once owned an Aston Martin. It was truly a beautiful car. Inside the door sill, on the driver’s side, there was a little personalized plaque that said, “Handbuilt in England for Derek A.” I … Read More →
A close friend of mine once owned an Aston Martin. It was truly a beautiful car. Inside the door sill, on the driver's side, there was a little personalized plaque that said, "Handbuilt in England for Derek A." I thought that was a nice touch.
What does Gallery Direct have in common with Aston Martin? We hand-make each image to your specifications right here in Austin, Texas. Another correlation is Gallery Direct, like Aston Martin, is a mark of supreme quality. Where we differ, thankfully, is affordability. Fine Art For Everyone is our mantra, and everyone here takes this message seriously. Another difference, Derek waited five months to take delivery of his Aston Martin. We ship our clients' custom-made artwork in two to four days. Nice.
We're quintessentially the new style of American art company: combining the quality and customization of a luxury brand with the value and price of a normal household purchase. We are the largest limited edition fine art publisher, printmaker and artisan framer in the world. This means we do it all: we find the artists and the artwork; we market and recreate the art ourselves. There is no middleman between the artwork and your walls. Our commitment to "Made in the U.S.A." resonates in the artists we promote, mouldings we offer, the glass, matboards, paper and canvas we buy. The ink for our über-green, latex printer is made in Puerto Rico, which is technically not the U.S.A., but really close! We're proud to be creating fine American-made artwork for 10 years. Enough about us, let's talk about you.
Gallery Direct makes a special experience for the guests to our site, providing you with all the tools that a gallery curator and an interior designer would covet. This is a new genre of art: hyper-pluralism meets fine art production. You create world class fine art by harnessing -- literally -- millions of images, specifying the size, the medium, and framing options, sent to us in an instant and custom-made for you on the fly. Every image you select is available as framed wall art on paper, canvas art, fine art on acrylic, metal art and even imagery presented on mirror; or, make artwork from your photos. Turn yourself into a work of art™. You can't do that in China. Actually, I don't know of anywhere you can do this. Not even art.com offers the type of granular customization we do, and Gallery Direct is still the lowest price on the web. Not even the online canvas printing services can compete with us: not on price, not on quality, and not on customization.
The only thing we might be missing is little plaques on the artwork, "handbuilt for _________ in Austin, Texas."