Episode 309 – New Markets for Artists / All-or-Nothing Funding

All-or-Nothing Funding

Let’s say you are a musician and you want to make a CD, that will cost about $4,000 dollars to produce. Your Kickstarter video might be some creative form of you talking about your music and maybe playing a song. You are allowed ninety days or less to raise money. If at the end of ninety days only $3,500 is pledged, the project’s financial goal has not been reached and you will get nothing. The reason funding is all or nothing is so that the project actually gets done well. It also ensures that the donors’ money will only be spent on successful projects. The key to any project on Kickstarter is to create interesting rewards for those who donate larger amounts of money. For example, all donors will receive a personalized thank you email from you; or those who donate $5 will receive an mp3 of one of your songs, $10 will earn them a copy of your CD, and $15 gets them tickets to one of your shows. The more creative and enticing your rewards are, the more likely people are to donate.

You as a Philanthropist

The easiest way to see how Kickstarter works is by exploring the website. You will see that most projects never get funded, but the ones that do get funded all have promotional angles and good rewards that make them special.  Try funding a few projects for a dollar to see how it works. In the case of non-visible art, we wanted the rewards to be the art itself. We thought we could make a video describing the museum and raise $5,000. The rewards would be descriptions of the non-visible art. For a certain donation amount, we might describe a painting of a horse in a field. That is what we wanted to do, but the challenge was deciding how to make the videos and promote the project.

Promoting the Project

The reason project promotion is so important is because if you just post something on Kickstarter and wait for pledges to come in, usually nothing happens. You have to tell your friends on your various social networks what you are doing. And if you are trying to raise a significant sum like $5,000 or more, you may even have to make calls. Promotion is something you must tackle and manage well. In our case, we began with deciding how to make our video. Since we didn’t actually have anything to show we thought we should both talk about the museum. As we discussed that possibility, we also thought it would help to have someone else in the video who understands what we were planning to do.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 308 – New Markets for Artists / Having a Child

Having a Child

We developed different shows and exhibits over the next few years, but we also had a child and caring for him took a great deal of our time, because we also decided to homeschool him ourselves. Being able to spend so much time with our child was magical, and it influenced our work, adding a new sense of humor and playfulness. In 2010, our child was almost ten years old and could handle more things on his own. That gave my wife and I time to launch a major new project.

A New Museum

The project was almost like the non-visible wounds we were kissing before,  but this time we decided to make a museum that was not visible by describing how it would look. In other words, imagine someone is giving you a tour of a museum, only you are standing outside and there are no displays or walls with art on them. The tour guide gestures to the open air, or a  blank wall, and talks about art that isn’t there, and you have to picture what the tour guide is describing in your mind. But instead of doing a performance, we wanted to talk about visual art, like paintings, sculptures or installations, so this idea grew into a tour of a non-visible art museum. The more we thought about it, the more we liked it, because we realized the art that we described would not be limited by space or material concerns of any kind. We could describe giant sculptures that were astronomically expensive or physically impossible to build. There were no limits.

Sales  Strategy

We liked the idea but there was the issue of sales—how could we sell art that didn’t physically exist? We wanted to sell our ideas about the visual art in such a way that people focused on the art, rather than the tour of the museum. The next step in our thinking process was to develop a way to sell the art without the actual physical product. The solution we arrived at was to use the previously mentioned kickstarter.com because it is the largest funding platform for the arts in the world. Similar to YouTube in its layout, Kickstarter allows you to upload videos describing the projects you want funding for, and viewers can pledge their donations. The catch is that you do not get these donations unless you achieve the goals stated in your video.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 307 – New Markets for Artists / Art Has No Limits

Art Has No Limits

Artists can do all the traditional things like dance, sing, and paint, but they can also work, for example, with biologists or architects to enhance their work with new views and sensibilities. Everything influences an artist’s work, and that includes modes of exchange and commerce. Artists can have a personal impact on this as well. Especially now, with the web at their disposal, artists can use social networking media for their own agendas. The MONA story illustrates how many of these tools can be used for our artistic purposes, and how you can use them, too.

Non-Visible  Wounds

When we were giving out free hugs, we also gave out bandages for what we called non-visible wounds. We would ask people if they had any non-visible wounds of any kind and they would typically say no, or that they had headaches, stomachaches, heartaches, or other internal wounds of some kind. For those with heartache, we put Band-Aids on or near their hearts and give them motherly kisses on the bandage itself.

Community

Looking back on it now, those Saturday offerings were a great way of meeting people and sharing art. Everyone who came into our small 200-square-foot storefront for a hug or bandage was also exposed to the art decorating our walls. Artists do all kinds of things to get people into their studios (like having a party and giving away food and drink), but whatever you do, getting new visitors helps you grow. If you are not meeting new people whenever possible, there will be fewer new opportunities presenting themselves. The beginning of the Museum of Non-Visible Art story has its seeds in our first event that brought people into our studio for the non-visible bandage. Thanks to having good visibility in our storefront, we made many friends new friends this way.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 306 – New Markets for Artists / How We Did It

How We Did It

The story I am going to tell is about an idea my wife and I had for a non-visible museum. We not only sold a lot of art, but we improved our art careers dramatically and got international and national media coverage. You, too, can try many of the things we did to promote this project. This chapter assumes that you understand the basics of social networks, and if you do not know how to build web pages and manipulate HTML code a bit, you will have to talk to your web designer to understand some of what I’ll be describing.

The Beginning

The idea of a non-visible museum was conceived in 1999 and 2000 when my wife and I met. We were artists living illegally in a storefront in the East. We had begun a project where we gave out free hugs, foot washings, and bandages for non-visible wounds to the public. We opened the storefront every Saturday and offered those services. People liked our services and asked why we were providing them, and we always replied that it was because we were artists who wanted to do this. That was the truth. As an artist, you can really do whatever you want. When we told people who we were they seemed to understand. People assume that artists have ideas and motives that they may not understand and give you what has become known as an “artistic license.”

Artistic License

Clearly, my wife and I were taking artistic license by offering hugs to people. Of course, the hugs were not the only art we were creating; we also made paintings, drawings, and whatever else we wanted to experiment with. For starters, knowing you have artistic license to do anything you want will help you succeed. It’s incredible how much latitude you have as an artist. My wife and I once interviewed Vito Acconci, a great artist and very interesting thinker, who told us that art, unlike science or math, is the only field of interest that is non-field, meaning that it can incorporate anything. In other fields, there are limits to what can be brought in to study and influence things within the field, but art is limitless.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 305 – New Markets for Artists / Ideas Are Needed

Ideas Are Needed

I am not saying you need to be a software developer, but any idea you may have that could change the way we communicate through art can be game changing if you take it seriously. The art world is small compared to something like the world of health care or academia. There is usually very little funding for the arts. Look at a visionary project like Kickstarter.com. That was a game-changing idea. It was simple: make a pitch, give different “rewards” like artwork to investors, and hope you get enough interest to fund your dream.

The New Funding Paradigm

Incredibly, they started in 2009, and as of 2010, they were already the largest funding platform for artists in the world. Kickstarter.com is a wonderful place to go to look for more visionary ideas, and is also a wonderful example of how to creatively build a business that helps artists share their work and raises money for them. Even if you do not con- sider yourself an entrepreneur, you’ve probably had ideas before that you thought could be profitable. Your ideas are not selfish or crass or not possible or long-shots, just look at Kickstarter.com and you’ll see that a good business idea can help everyone.

The Non-Visible Museum / the Kickstarter Project I Did with My Wife

In 2011, my wife and I started an art project called MONA, the Non-Visible Museum of Art. My wife and I do all our work together and the projects are usually high-concept art. For the purposes of this book, the story of how I raised over $10,000 in a week with an online art presentation will be both a course in how social media is used, and a course in the DIY (Do-It-Yourself) movement in art. What I describe may sound unusual or impractical to some, and you might have a hard time imagining how your artwork fits into this model, but you can use it to share your art with the world. Social networking, for all its pros and cons, is at the very least a giant game of show and tell, and as an artist, showing your work and telling a bit about it is what this book is a guide for.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 304 – New Markets for Artists / New Frontiers: The Non-Visible Museum

Chapter 14

New Frontiers: The Non-Visible Museum

New methods of online communication keep emerging, and you can also invent one yourself. The current forms of communication continue to undergo revisions that are often necessary, and we are all challenged to use these updated versions.

Learn the Code

This is a last word on social networks in the Art World’s final frontier; a hyper-complex world of algorithms that determine how we communicate online, changing based on which services we use, or news sources we read. Understanding how new systems are written is the code, like in The Matrix. We must all learn how to speak this new language and adapt along with it if we do not want the systems to rule us. If you are reading this book, you are aware of online social networks and may be using them. They are part of your language now, and that language will be used more and more. I am sure that parts of what I’ve said in this book are dated already because things on the Internet change so fast. There will be new online games, new ways of sharing information, new apps for your smart phone, and much more that will effect how your work is communicated to the public. You can develop a stance on many of these new ideas, such as being a student forever, or being opposed to new forms, or limiting your time on new formats or even being an entrepreneur or pioneer in the field.

Micro-Entrepreneurs

Of course I fall on the side of being a type of entrepreneur, or the path of the Do-It-Yourself artists, but this is wide open territory. A project I did with my wife that describes one new frontier, is coming up. Online business practices are constantly being revised and will most likely continue to do so. That means you are on the frontline as a creative person and an artist with the chance to do something potentially amazing and historic. From creating new applications that can work on smart phones and tablets, to new ways for the millions of online consumers to see and buy your artwork, the way the world connects through the Internet continues to evolve. The people who create these new systems are pioneers because we all want better ways to share and communicate. Ironically, it seems an interactive touchscreen is one of the best ways to accomplish that.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 303 – New Markets for Artists / How the Museum Used the Statement

How the Museum Used the Statement

How the museum uses the statement is also important. In my case, they presented it in catalog text, which provided a way to talk about the work that had some humor, and also explained that the work is about changing the way we feel and how we function. You can see from this example how a curator uses and interprets a statement for their own reasons. This is why it is important to have a piece of writing they can draw from.

The Application Process

Statements also help with your applications. They are often necessary when submitting images to a juried show or for a prize, though in this case, their function is slightly different. Here’s how a jury works, in case you’ve ever wondered. First, all the artist’s work is organized in a projected display that the jury views in a dark room. Generally, there is a moderator in charge of organizing the images and identifying the artist to the jury.

The Jury Waits for You

Before the next artist’s images are projected, the moderator hands out copies of the artist’s application to the jury and verbally introduces the artist, saying something like, “The next artist is X, and I will read his/her statement.” Then the moderator reads the artist’s statement. This is an important scene to visualize and understand because at this moment the jury isn’t looking at the images yet and will be solely focused on the statement. After hearing the statement, the jury will already have a preconceived notion about what they are going to see, and a bias for or against that artist. That is how powerful the statement is in juries.

Your Statement is 90 Percent of the Excitement

Where juries are concerned, it may be better to have no statement at all instead of a mediocre one that risks making a bad first impression. After your statement is read, you want them to feel excited to see your work, not confused about what your art is. Therefore, your statement should be very clear and enticing, the same way the beginning of a good article or book will draw in the reader. If you can elicit a feeling of, “Wow, that sounds beautiful,” or, “That sounds scary and intense, I hope I can handle it!,” you’ve done a good job. You are simply trying to get them to look forward to your images.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 302 – New Markets for Artists / Why My Statement Works

Why That Statement Works

You can probably see what is happening here. Instead of talking about love, we are talking about our systems or bodies, and using terms like shareware and viruses to talk about our art. We are also not saying exactly why we are giving hugs and foot-washings, other than to remove the viruses in other systems. This is, of course, all a way to say we are trying to make the world a happier place one person at a time through hugs and foot-washings.

Myth Making and Being Sincere

This type of statement is similar to Joseph Beuys’s. It is an analogy for how we work. You could write a statement like this no matter what your technique or medium is. Try using other terminology, like gaming slang, or anything else with its own special vocabulary. What is also interesting is that when a curator reads the statement or prints it for an event, they have to put it in their own words. The next section demon- strates how a curator used our statement to explain our work during our show at the Whitney Museum Biennial.

How a Curator Uses the Statement

The curator Debra Singer wrote the following in the museum catalog:

For the three years, Delia Bajo and Brainard Carey, who form the two-person art and performance collaborative, Praxis, have used their storefront East Village studio in New York City to stage weekly afternoon events.  As part of their  New Economy project, this husband-and-wife team has offered every  Saturday a menu of four free services from which visitors and passersby may choose: foot washes, hugs, Band-Aid applications to help heal visible or non-visible wounds, and gifts of one-dollar bills. Using the rhetoric of systems management, Praxis describes itself as a “software development team” that uses the bodies of Bajo and Carey as hosts to test their operating systems. By receiving the benefits of The New Economy Project, participants become a part of Praxis’s performance, and so choose to “download” the “shareware” created by Bajo and Carey, thereby integrating the altruistic spirit of Praxis into their own “systems.” Though Praxis’s language is contemporary, the character of its project draws on strategies from experimental performance art of the 1960s and ‘70s. Through direct, yet intimate interactions with the public, for example, the New Economy project recalls the activities of Fluxus, the radical network of visionary artists who sought to change political, social, as well as aesthetic perception through performances that were often  absurd  and shocking in appearance, yet historically pivotal  at the same time. It also recalls the ideas of the art- ist and influential teacher Joseph Beuys, whose notion of “social sculpture” substituted the traditional understanding of sculpture, and art more generally, as fixed material objects for the definition of ephemeral actions and processes that could transform everyday lives. In analogous ways, Praxis, through their interactive, nurturing performances, offers alternative modes of economic and social exchange that serve as a comforting antidote to the potentially alienating effects of today’s world that is often dominated by technology and consumerism.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 301 – New Markets for Artists / My First Statement

My First Statement

When my wife and I first began working together, our idea was to give out hugs through our storefront in the East Village in New York City. When we applied to shows we also needed an artist statement, and since we had just fallen in love and were using art to share that love, we considered using love or spirituality in the statement. Ultimately though, we decided not to use “love” or “spirituality,” not because they didn’t apply, but because the words are overused, are too nonspecific, and would probably not help the viewer understand what we were doing. Instead, we made up an analogy, using the language of software developers, which served our purpose. Here is the statement my wife and I wrote about our art work which involved giving out hugs and washing feet, in the third person:

Manifesto/Statement of Praxis

Praxis Software Development Team

Similar to the synapses occurring throughout our brains, the spaces between the neurons where nerve impulses are transmitted, the software team creates the synthetic equivalent of the chemical substance serotonin, which bridges those gaps. It is the mechanism that creates the spark and connection that lets us log-on, so to speak, with our limbs and higher functions. It is not the acts or performances that are central, but the software that is created by the practice and ongoing quality of the documented exchanges. The software that they manufacture is designed to make new paths for our own hardwired hardware within our systems which seek additional programming for smoother, faster, and more elegant operation.

Software Development

Designing a new operating system; Praxis OS 33.1

Through weekly demonstrations at the Tenth Street Studio, the software is revealed, so that others can download the shareware or integrate the program into their own operating systems, which is the well-known and popular central nervous system. Once it has been installed successfully, it quickly becomes a beneficial virus that multiplies and begins an overhaul of current systems creating a new parallel operating system within the old one, which is more flexible and can share information with enhanced ability. As a software development team, they use their own systems as experimental guides when inventing or altering their new OS. Developers Bajo and Carey found, through connecting their systems, a new virus-like activity which was beneficial to both systems, and soon they began deleting all other programming that previously assisted them, such as dairy products, alcohol, tobacco, drugs and caffeine. Their goal is to create an OS that will rival Windows or Mac X. This new system is built on a more organic model that incorporates artificial intelligence into our systems which, combined with the original and genuine model, creates a performance that runs extremely smooth with little or no crashes, and only a few bugs. When fully engaged, this OS will act as a fast igniter and stimulator so the human CNS will have an easier time encountering other systems with various programs and viruses that sometimes makes exchanges of information awkward, violent, and prone to crashes and disappointment. With Praxis OS 33.1, crashes are welcome, and in most cases, automatically self-repairing. As this new OS replicates itself all over the world, centers will be set up where new and old users can update, download, and log on.

 

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 300 – New Markets for Artists / Survival and Trauma

Survival and Trauma

As an artist, Beuys often used materials like felt and animal fat. To interpret what he was trying to say with his work was not easy,  but after reading this story, stacks of felt, a chair with animal fat, and a sled, suddenly have a very clear meaning about life, death, and the experience of being saved. Looking back at his career and life, we can see he was actually creating a sort of mythology around who he was. That would not be very interesting if he wasn’t also doing work that challenged our sensibilities and made us think.

What Will You Write?

Your artist statement could be like either of the ones I just mentioned, or it could be something completely different. The main thing to keep in mind is that it must be easy to understand and exciting. If your writing skills aren’t great, you would be wise to have a writer help you. Even writers need editors to help them present their ideas in the best way possible, so if you want a good statement and are struggling on your own, ask for help. Have a writer read this chapter and then discuss different possibilities with them. It is very important to have a great statement because, as a former gallery owner, I have seen how this first impression can make or break an artist’s proposal.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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