The world's oldest profession
Tale as old as time
Last weekend I went to the Cooper Hewitt design museum here in NYC. It's located in one of Andrew Carnegie's former homes. I don't think I've visited for more than 30 years, but I'd been yearning to go back and I wasn't sure why. I guess it was calling to me.
There were two wonderful exhibits with two very different takes on a similar time, but the one that spoke to me and made me think "this is a newsletter topic" was celebrating the work of Hector Guimard, the design genius who gave "Paris its curves." He was responsible for the design of the Metro and much of the curved architecture in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Self promotion at that time wasn't new (P.T. Barnum is probably the most infamous perpetrator - oh and a con man) but in Europe this behavior wasn't typical and could be seen as gauche.
But a lifelong entrepreneur, Guimard began labeling his work with the term "Le Style Guimard" in signage, exhibitions or on his work, which ranged from furniture and displays to art, jewelry etc. He was even one of the first people to brand his work, insisting that manufacturers who purchased it and resold it had to register it under the name Le Style Guimard.
Who do you think you are?
It should come as no surprise that this advanced branding ideology was met with resistance. Some of his peers mocked him for his lack of modesty (sacre bleu!) and others criticized him for daring to brand his style in the first place (haters gonna hate).
Sadly, he died in relative obscurity in NYC in the 1940s but not before leaving a mark on the entire city of Paris and art nouveau design as a whole. (some examples below of his curvature in both type and architecture)
Go all in on you
Guimard and his art nouveau contemporaries were committed to the principle of "totally integrated design." They all wanted to combine decor, architecture and fine art into one designed environment. As the exhibit highlighted, this is referred to in German as Gesamtkunstwerk or "total work of art."
But here's the kicker. His deep dedication to his craft blurred the lines between personal and professional (hmm, where have I heard that?), even designing his wedding to Adeline Oppenheim and his residence which doubled as his studio (a true work at homer!). Clearly he was ahead of his time.
Always be branding
You don't have to be a trailblazer to be a brand, but you do need to be intentional, thoughtful and insistently and incessantly repetitive. As my friend Nina Stoller-Lindsey posted this week, you need to be a broken record (she's got a great method for this which you should check out). Putting something out there once isn't going to cut it in today's landscape. I always say you need to promote yourself until you're sick of yourself. Only then will you have cut through the noise and get noticed. (The reason you think I'm everywhere, I post and post and post again. Because I know it's the only way to be visible.)
Just like Hector recognized that he needed to put his name everywhere to own and coin his aesthetic, you need to put your SH&T everywhere (like Frank's hot sauce). So the world's oldest profession isn't what you might think, but rather it's self promotion.
And one way to promote yourself is with Consistent Content That Kicks Ass, which just happens to be my new program. CCTKA is six months of content creation and posting to develop that habit, get you noticed and cut through the clutter. You work so hard already, isn't it time other people noticed and came to you?
Want more details? Email me!
Gratuitous and totally unrelated photos of my son and I at the top of the Eiffel Tower in 2017. He leaves for college in a few months and I can't believe that 6 years ago he looked like this!