Visual art sells.

It not only sells itself, it sells and promotes what it is associated with – including governments, products and individual identity.

Brand recognition not only associated thorough the through visual recognition of the product(s), logo and packaging. Marketing professionals know the benefit of endorsements and advertising that associate the product with celebrities, authorities. Testimonials and word of mouth recommendations from people we at least assume to be like ourselves continues to sell products.

Successful job applicants and romantic suitors, business marketers and governments all know the value of artistic presentation of their products. Every one is promoting him or herself in some way to others most of the time.

According to, a study by the University of Georgia found that when a product is visually aligned with art, even if the exposure is momentary, consumers are more receptive to the product itself. Common items, such as cutlery and a soap dispenser were displayed along with fine art that ranged from van Gogh’s Café Terrace at Night to other work by a relatively unknown artist.

According to one of the study’s two authors, Henrik Hagtvedt assistant professor at the UGA Terry College of Business, “Visual art has historically been used as a tool for persuasion. It has been used to sell everything from religion to politics to spaghetti sauce to the artist’s image. It’s about time we develop a scientific basis to understand how it actually works.

Once the new nation and government of the 23 United States of America had its founding written mission statement documents it went immediately into the art business. How? It issued money. Most of the world’s money is a form of art. Take a coin or bill and look at it. See all the decorations – portraits, symbols, decorations?

 Governments have been issuing art as or on (depends on one’s view) money since ancient times. Usually the art depicted has meaning for the government that can increase its power or prestige. Alexander the Great put his own image on coins to promote himself and his empire. Every time money changes hands it promotes, via its images, the ideas of its country of origin.

Plus, governments, religious organizations and corporations commission impressive architecture (as opposed to purely utilitarian), portraits of their leaders and encourage artists to paint or sculpt images of their triumphs, landmarks and products.

Wealth can easily be transferred and issued without art on it. Legal contracts, bank checks, stock certificates, and even plain security personal or business checks can do the job. There was a time when coins
were pure metals, especially gold and silver and were actually worth the weight of the metal – yet governments applied artistic images as a form of powerful advertisement. 

In a way we are all in the art business since we are all creating a visual identity that we “sell” to others. That visual identity includes our personal appearance, as well as that of our homes and places of work. The art we display on our walls or surfaces (sculpture) is a key promoter of our values and purposes to family, friends and clients.

Dollar Bill, 2012 Series J by Judy Rey Wasserman. Strokes are Exodus 20.

Corporations successfully use art to create their image and promote their mission. Of course, they have logos, well designed packaging, advertisements, etc., but most of the top corporations display good to excellent art in their corporate offices and even lend art to museums (and at the very least next to that loan there will be a small wall tag citing the generosity of the corporation). Most corporations choose the works they show and collect carefully, not only because fine art is an investment, but because they understand that the art depicts their taste and hence, corporate culture.

ArtReview  magazine has a yearly list of the 100 most important people in the contemporary art world. In the past a dentist in Great Britain has made the list as a collector. He began his collection by trading services for fine art of up and coming artists. Not only did his known net worth rise considerably when several of these artists became such as Damien Hirst, prominent,. The dentist’s patients see him as a man who is up to date, if not ahead of his time. Good branding for a man in a medical field!

In a similar way, two of my three recent dentists involved with a root canal have unsigned mass produced prints of pretty landscape scenes, usually involving a body or water or flowers or both, but all clearly at best
décor store quality. These prints are supposed to inspire a kind of cozy comfort, however what they say about these professionals is that they have not put thought and any real expense into their businesses, but are, at best simply run of the mill. The third dentist was an oral surgeon who was necessary due to a mistake or accident by one of the other two. I have recommended his work to others as his work was better and less painful and his care and staff were excellent. This oral surgeon actually had some interesting original, signed and numbered prints in his reception area, hall and offices. One of the crowns from the third dentist broke while the other is too tight. As I seek a new regular dentist I will be visiting their offices, without any appointment to check out the art they have on their walls!

The original, signed and numbered prints on the walls of the oral surgeon were not expensive works, but they were quality contemporary works, not trite and simplistic created for mass production. They promoted his brand. He was up to date and quality.

Growing up in Manhattan, there were two Chinese restaurants that were across the street from each other, and they served our whole non-Chinese neighborhood. They both had just about the same menu and pricing including cocktails and liquor, crisp white table cloths, good service, wallpaper and tropical fish swimming in large tanks, plus they were open the same hours. The smaller one had slightly better food and service, so they did a better take-out business. The larger one had an exciting museum quality huge painting of junks on the sea in old Hong Kong by a respected Chinese artist. People would stop into the restaurant just to see this painting.

The larger restaurant was always crowded on weekends and evenings. Business people would fill it during lunch hours, coming from all parts of the city to dine near the painting. When another Chinese restaurant opened a few blocks away with different dishes the smaller one succumbed to the competition, while the one that had the painting remained just as popular. Their art differentiated them and pulled them ahead of their competitors.

However stylish a home or place of business may be, it promotes its mission and values through the art it displays. Art is not a decoration. It inspires, it promotes, it challenges and it intimately shares a vision. Wise and successful people use the art they display to promote their values and missions, which is what a brand is.

”Art has connotations of excellence, luxury and sophistication that spill over onto products with which the art is associated,” said Vanessa M. Patrick, an artist who is the other author of the study at UGA. “We call this the ‘art infusion effect.’ It does not stem from the content of the artwork, that is, what is depicted in the artwork, but from general connotations of art itself …and it [art] stands out, even with all the stimuli competing for attention in contemporary society.”

Judy Rey Wasserman is an artist and the founder of Post Conceptual Art theory and also the branch known as UnGraven Image Art.

Check out the Fine Art Limited Edition prints, decorative prints, books, and printables that are currently available to you through Judy Rey’s Art of Seeing The Divine Shop. You don’t have to buy to avail yourself of the art and inspiration available there. However, if you select to collect investment quality archival art, or decorate your home with images created with strokes that are original letters from Bible texts, or buy a gift for someone special, there is a secure shopping cart that accepts most credit cards so your purchase is easy to accomplish.

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