Why did I decide to name this store “Attention Bazaar”? Since it is probably not at all obvious, I will share with you how I came up with it. There were other more obvious options that occurred to me first, but some names were already taken and none of my initial thoughts really seemed to capture what I wanted this store to be about.
I asked myself, ultimately what am I trying to do here? Is this really just about t-shirts and mugs and the like? Well, my first challenge is to get your attention. If I can’t get your attention, then nothing at all will happen. Looking into marketing literature, I see that this is the main task and it is said over and over. There are infinite ways to do it, but it all comes down to this: get the customer’s attention. In terms of my designs, I want them to capture and hold your attention, if even for an extended moment. This is something that I have long thought is the most basic task of art- to capture and hold our attention. You look at it and you want to keep looking at it. Maybe it’s beautiful. Maybe it is strange in an interesting way. Maybe it makes you think or feel something powerful. You want to linger with it and give it your attention. It stops your mind from its usual busyness and preoccupations. Maybe you can’t explain it, but whatever it is you feel it is important, that it has some sort of value. It hold your gaze.
Not only is it important that I win your attention long enough to shop, but if you are going to buy something you will need to feel that you want to keep giving it your attention. Also, when we buy clothing or personal items we may also want it to draw the attention of others. Whether it is a beautiful or interesting design or some evocative words, we want to display something that will capture the attention of friends, loved ones and even strangers. This may be so that they will also notice us positively, but it could simply be a generous act of putting something in the world that can be enjoyed or fruitfully pondered by others. Offering beauty and wisdom to the world, however we may do it, can be an act of love.
Of course, the products in my store have their functional uses and qualities that can be appreciated, but first they function as vehicles for sparking attention. That is a primary aspect of their underlying value.
My intention, however, goes a bit further than that. As a therapist it has become clearer to me over many years that our ability to pay attention, and what we choose to pay attention to, is the most fundamental determinant of how our lives go. At least it’s where our own power to create our lives begins.
The famous early American psychologist William James had this to say about attention.
*“Everyone knows what attention is. It is taking possession of the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of what seems several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thought. Focalization, concentration of consciousness are of its essence. It implies a withdrawal from some things in order to deal effectively with others.”
He also said this:
“The education of attention would be an education par excellence.”
He gives us a concise definition of what it is and tells us that “educating” it is of great value. Duh. If we really think about it, it seems obvious. Yet we don’t often think about it, let alone do anything about it.
As “attention” is the deepest root or the main pillar of what I want this store to be about, why not put it in the name. There is plenty that follows on from attention, but nothing follows without it. I want to share images and text that will deserve to attract your attention and hold it for a little while. Not like a car crash, but in a way that makes you feel, think and better. I want to offer items that contribute to and support your own efforts to pay attention to what really matters to you in your life. This will come in the form of visual images as well as thoughts and ideas expressed through text.
Along the way I also expect to be silly and irreverent at times. I hope I can make you laugh. Nothing captures our attention like a good joke or something that is comically absurd. I fear that so far I may be coming across as overly serious, yet none of it makes any sense without the ability to laugh. My 11-year old daughter often says to me, “Daddy, you’re silly.” If I can impart to her the freedom to be silly sometimes, I will count it as one success in my effort to be a good father.
Well, that’s a good segue to now telling you why this store is called a bazaar. I looked through long lists of synonyms for the word “store”. There are lots of them. It hadn’t occurred to me to call it a bazaar until I saw that word on the list. Its technical definition is “a market in a Middle Eastern country.” That’s not exactly true of my store, but others not in the Middle East have used it, so why can’t I? What made it stand out to me was that I couldn’t help notice how closely the word bazaar is to the word “bizarre”, which means “strikingly out of the ordinary: such as odd, extravagant or eccentric in style or mode.” Yep! Exactly the kind of thing that attracts attention.
Among the thousands of digital pictures that I have made over the past 10 years, I would say that a good percentage of them are indeed, bizarre. If they capture attention, the first question that they tend to spark is “what the heck is that supposed to be?” Sometimes I show them to my daughter and ask if she can guess what it is. Then we have a giggle as her guesses are as usually as bizarre as the image itself. Eventually I hope to incorporate some of these images into my products. They won’t be for everyone, but they don’t have to be. Some will appreciate them and that’s enough for me.
If you have read this far, then I am happy to have held your attention. Thanks for coming along. If I have sparked your curiosity, please have a look at the products. Maybe you will find something just right for you. Also, check out my other blogs. If, for instance, some text on a mug or t-shirt catches your eye you may find a blog that explores that thought. In any case, I'm glad you're here.