The New Economy for Artists

How to Leverage Blockchain

The trope of the “starving artist” exists for a reason, we never hear of the “starving doctor” or the “starving lawyer”.  Yet given free time, many of us choose to spend it consuming the work of artists, by going to museums, grabbing a book, or heading to a concert.  Institutions for publishing and managing distribution of artist’s work can provide a valuable service. However, these same institutions are too often complicit in a system which turns just a tiny number of artists, writers, and musicians into superstars, leaving the majority of creatives with little to no options to fund their craft or make a living.

What can we do about it?   

What if dozens of markets emerged for artists and patrons that took zero commission from transactions? What if those markets were built on decentralized databases that kept a public record of participants and transactions and could easily facilitate “peer to peer” style payment for art using cryptocurrency?

Imagine a world where engineers quit their six figure jobs to build out these databases and then fought for the attention of artists because they needed art to fill these databases and to fuel these new markets? What if this caused the world’s first artist shortage?

Would this new demand for “artists” inspire people who never thought of themselves as “creative” to build their own artistic skills to get in on the action?  

 

Enter: Blockchain

 

What is Blockchain and Blockchain art?

You have likely heard of CryptoKitties or Bitcoin, but terms like “blockchain” and “blockchain art” still haven’t fully percolated through public consciousness. For an initial dive, we’ve put together this video:

If you’re interested in the nuts & bolts of these ideas, check out The Blockchain Art Market is here and An Artist’s Guide to the Blockchain.

How do I get involved with blockchain?

  1. Dada.nyc

Dada.nyc is a social network where people speak through drawings that you can collect on the Ethereum blockchain. So far, thousands of artists have participated in creating tens of thousands of drawings. The website includes digital drawing tools, and the community encourages people of all skill levels to participate. Additionally, some of the art is also available for sale via the blockchain which helps keep the project going and supports the artists.

Artwork from the artist Moxarra. Via Dada.NYC

Who buys this work? People like me who are more concerned with supporting the arts and artists than we are in turning a profit. I placed my first CryptoArt purchase at Dada.nyc for this funky character below by the artist Moxarra, for which I paid less than $20. Because the artwork was digital and purchased on the blockchain, there were none of the costs typically associated with commissions, shipping, and framing. Thus, I can knowingly invest the money that would be spent on those services into more art and artists. And because I spend at least 100x more time looking at screens than the walls of my home, I can look at my new art whenever I feel like it. But buying/owning the art is just part of the experience at Dada.nyc.

This is a great way to get your feet wet.

If you’re interested, you can watch the founder, Beatriz Helena Ramos, presenting at the Digital Rare Art Festival to get a better idea of the platform and the spirit of the community.

  1. Curio Cards

Perhaps you don’t want to use Dada.nyc’s digital tools to create your art. Travis Uhrig, CEO from Curio Cards has you covered. Uhrig believes artists shouldn’t need to own or even understand cryptocurrency in order to participate in the blockchain art market. Curio Cards was thus created to provide a platform in which anyone can participate.

So far, the project is doing phenomenally well, with over one thousand cards sold and artists making on average $300 – $900, according to Uhrig. Any artist can submit their work for free to be voted on at community.curio.cards.

Example of a Curio Card

In Uhrig’s words, “Crypto needs artists, is my sense. Everyone always says that bitcoin is too complicated to explain to people, but you’ll look at subcultures — hip hop, hipster — all these different groups, they have very complex rules of engagement, very complex rules of etiquette, and not everyone understands them — and it’s just fine because musicians and artists and writers and reporters have explained them to us. I think that’s what Bitcoin needs. It needs artists to help explain the culture and help define it. So I really liked the idea of creating a project that can get people that don’t have any Bitcoin, don’t have Ethereum, don’t know anything about it, but they’re really talented, and it’s a way for them to get involved.”

 

  1. Slothicorn

While it may be easy for a collector to part with money for a masterpiece from a trained artist, who will provide the incentives to artists that quite honestly just are not that good yet?

Slothicorn provides place to start for people who are just starting out so that they can 1) Build their art skills 2) Learn about cryptocurrency. In founder Stellabelle’s words, “Slothicorn is really a creative commons cryptoart community where we create art in Steemit that other people can use for their blogs.” There are only 2 rules: First, you must put a creative commons license at the end of your post, and second, the topic of the meme has to be related to cryptocurrency.  

These are just three of the many platforms emerging for artists on the blockchain. Other groups like Archetype.mx are working on solutions to make it possible for you to tokenize your own work and market it however you like. The sky is really the limit, and though it can seem a bit overwhelming, it is the art itself and the relationships you will build with this community that matter most.

A wild Slothicorn
Contributors / Jason Bailey / Website / Instagram

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