Most of us love the idea of a dramatic contemporary art work in our living room or office until we see the price. At the same time, many artists struggle to make a living from their paintings or photographs and find themselves in a vicious circle struggling to produce more, as art supplies are expensive. The rise of the sharing economy, however, has touched upon the art world and is challenging the traditional gallery model of distributing and showing art.
Tricia Rampe and Michael Baker co-founded GetArtUp with the idea that people want to explore art without ever having to commit to an expensive piece. Members pay a monthly subscription, and can change the art pieces monthly if they wish, or even build up credits and then eventually buy that coveted painting or photographer. Everything in GetArtUp’s collection--from paintings to drawings to mixed media--is original, or in the case of photographs or digital art, is of a limited edition. Once a user joins, he or she just has to browse through the art, pay via a secure checkout page and then arrange a time for delivery. Clients who need a little more hand-holding can also arrange to have a curator consult with them to find the right art for a particular space.
According to GetArtUp, the artists participating with the company graduated from top art schools, have showcased their work at small and large galleries alike and gain exposure from a new way to demonstrate their art. For the artist, the most compelling benefit is the opportunity to receive a consistent stream of revenue while new audiences and discerning eyes can enjoy their work.
One of the artists participating in GetArtUp’s program is Tyler Bewley. A graduate of Skidmore College, Bewley’s art has been shown throughout California and on the East Coast. According to an email interview I had with Bewley, GetArtUp approached him after seeing his work displayed at a Bay Area art show. For Bewley and other artists, one of the greatest benefits of working with GetArtUp is to free art pieces from storage and move them into offices and homes.
One of the expenses that often burdens artists is the number of pieces that sit in an artists’ storage space - never seen nor shown. As always, taste in art can vastly differ from person to person; if an artist can make some money off a piece that he or she had written off, that art then becomes useful instead of just taking up space. “Old work that was in a show and did not sell may just not have found the right audience the first time around,” said Bewley, “so it is nice to give it another chance through a program like this.”
Bewley has not worked with GetArtUp for long, but he is optimistic about the idea’s potential. “I think this is a very interesting idea that potentially creates a new avenue for artists to make revenue outside of the gallery system," he said, "it is nice to be on a schedule where you are making a monthly income rather than solely depending on individual sales that are unpredictable.” Collaborative consumption, indeed, can be about sharing talent and color, too.
Leon Kaye, based in Fresno, California, is a sustainability consultant and the editor of GreenGoPost.com. He also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business; his work has also appeared on Sustainable Brands, Inhabitat and Earth911. You can follow Leon and ask him questions on Twitter or Instagram (greengopost). He will explore children’s health issues in India February 16-27 with the International Reporting Project.
[Image credit: top right, GetArtUp; middle right, Tyler Bewley]