Random Thoughts on Big Business and Graffiti Art

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I think we have all started to recognize a trend in the last few years . It seems that many celebrities, artists and businesses from around the globe have begun to reverse their thoughts and behaviors. They have become less selfish for the most part and have started to take notice of the importance of community. The traditional ways in which we used to measure our worth (wealth, power and celebrity) have seemed to swing in the direction of something that is much more spiritual and much more cultural. People seem to be getting more into themselves as a population and less interested in themselves as somebody or someone who “lives large” or is “big pimpin”. Life just ain’t all that fun when when you’re the lonely guy at the top I guess? I don’t know. I’ve never been that guy. I do know that I’ve seen some great signs lately that the more you should choose to open yourself up to the rest of the world/population, the more you make yourself accessible and easy to hang with, the better your chances are of success. Seems almost logical doesn’t it?
For instance, the fine art world has seen some significant change in the last twenty years. Galleries have become much more community focused and less concerned with mass stardom. Group shows are much more common than solo shows and exhibitions. Many of the shows carry a common theme and support a charitable cause rather than dump all the focus and revenue into the pocket of one sole contributor. Artists like graffiti artist Banksy, have escaped the gallery altogether (for the most part). Banksy has become popular not only because of his thought provoking and politically charged messages, he has also gained a healthy following because his work actually becomes a part of the community in which he creates it. Adoring fans no longer have to step into a fancy gallery to see their work. There is no charge. The work in many cases compliments the community. It speaks of the people and to the people that walk the streets. The work is more of a gift to the community than an unobtainable luxury that the average person could never afford. One of my favorite Banksy works is a mural of a modern day maintenance worker, pressure washing ancient cave paintings (hieroglyphics) from an otherwise typical urban street wall. It makes me think of how insensitive an establishment or organization can become. Erasing something of cultural importance without taking into concern it’s meaning or origin.

In regard to establishment and organizations,  it’s happening there as well. I was fortunate enough to take part in an interesting social media conference last year in Las Vegas. There were Microsoft guys, Google guys, Facebook guys… I even met a guy from one of the big oil companies (I think it was BP) all talking about big business and the next big emerging trend and how to speak to your consumers… so on and so forth. The one speaker/story that stuck out to me the most came from the mouth of Tony Hsieh (Zappos CEO). He was speaking about one night when he and some of his his business partners were out on the town in Santa Monica. Hitting the bars, painting the town till 3a.m. causing trouble an what not… When they finally got back home they were dying for some late night (or early morning) pizza action. Now, if you’ve ever been to Santa Monica you know that most places are closed by 3.a.m. So after some failed attempts to order a pie Tony decided to challenge his buddies to call the regular Zappos 24hr service number and try to order a pizza from them… long story short the Zappos help desk guy went out of his way to make sure they found a pizza (without knowing the CEO was behind the request). Zappos not only enables us to order amazing products. They also kick the traditional customer service ideas of mail order to the curb. They pick up the phone and help you out in many more ways than you would ever expect. Zappos service people are trained to approach each call from less of a business perspective and more of a human perspective (so I gathered). This is just one company amongst many that I have noticed in the past couple of years that is making a change to better the community it is part of.
I feel that the next generation will only embrace these ideas further. I foresee a society that is truly interested in prosperity and gain by means of a cumulative effort. The days of relying solely on celebrities like Brad Pitt and Angelina to make things right are hopefully coming to an end and we’ll all get to help out. Social portals, blogs and mobile apps are connecting people like never before globally and internationally. The next few generations will have the opportunity to have friends from all over the world without ever leaving their home towns. Here are a few related links:
Streetsy Urban Art Blog -> http://www.streetsy.com/
Graffiti Research Lab -> http://graffitiresearchlab.com/
Globally recognized avatars (profile icons) -> http://en.gravatar.com/
Largest U.S. mobile social net -> http://www.mocospace.com/
Myspace comes to TV with Intel and Yahoo -> Networkworld
Poster Boy – NYC Subway poster artist on -> YouTube

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