From Starving Artist to Living Treasure
Join with me, and together we will create a national artist cooperative which will enable us (the fine art 2d artist) to make a living from our artwork.
A living wage for all workers is currently at the fore front of public opinion and political debates. But what about the worker as artist? As self-employed workers, there is no government entity, labor union, artistic guild or law that can ever guarantee a living wage for us. Even the award of a BFA or MFA degree does not ensure that we can make a living from our artwork. In order to sustain ourselves as artists, we must often take a second job that pays wages.
A new paradigm for the marketing of art is needed in order for a larger
number of artists to be able to make a comfortable living. We need to increase the market for original art. I propose that this can be accomplished through the creation of a national marketing and purchasing cooperative (not a local co-op gallery) that is artist-owned, artist-controlled, and artist-benefited. The cooperative would promote to the public — through advertising, social media and other means — the importance of owning new original art to a well-lived life, and that the residual benefits of art to the spirit and soul far outweigh the creature comforts of a good couch.
By combining a purchasing cooperative (for art supplies and services such as art coaches, accounting, legal and general business services) with the art marketing cooperative, individual members would get their art materials at greatly reduced costs, and would share in the earnings from the cooperative’s sales of art materials and services.
There are challenges in starting a national cooperative. Fortunately, there is also a well-worn, documented pathway to success. There are over 29,285 cooperatives in the U.S. generating nearly $650 billion in revenues. Arts and crafts are part of the cooperative business model.
The membership of the proposed National Artists Cooperative would consist of independent artists and local artist co-op galleries. I plan to form a leadership team composed of local co-op directors, artists, gallerists, and art business consultants from several communities. The leadership team will take responsibility for starting the cooperative and seeing the project through. Specialized help will be needed throughout the various stages of starting the co-op.
Based on my previous experience of putting together strategic alliances and partnerships, along with my experience consulting with USDA’s Rural Development and Rural Cooperatives magazine, I believe that a cooperative — such as the one I have described — can be realized within one year.
However, I will need your help in turning this idea into a reality.
To learn more about how the National Artists Cooperative would operate and how it would make it easier to earn your living as an artist, please follow 2D Blogazine. To follow, click the yellow box on the upper, right hand corner of this page.
What do you think?
If the idea of making a comfortable, sustainable living through the sale of your artwork appeals to you, let me know of your interest in the creation of a national artist cooperative for 2d artists in the comments below.