Article categories: Issue 71
September 18th, 2009

If art were a part of our living culture would we recognize it as art? In the networked age a significant issue is finding successful models for generating revenue from digital activity. Artists who practice in digital media face this problem constantly – as do the music, literature and publishing industries (perhaps more prominent now with the surge of e-book readers and the development of online libraries such as Google Books).

For the last five years or more (longer in the case of open source and tiered licensing), digital media businesses have been busy finding new revenue models, including Crowdsourcing, the Economy of Abundance, the Long Tail, open source, donations, tiered licensing, freemium and advertising. That said, new models must still be found to support the arts in the wired world, not just for sustainability, but to allow artists to take their place at the centre of culture, society and economy.

Many artists working with digital media move freely across platforms (from their creative practice, to gaming, to commercial web sites and back), which may or may not be called art by various viewers. The labels these movements are given rarely matter (least of all to the artists involved), except those who have the tough job of codifying artistic practices that don’t fit current expectations of what art is.

Often we experience art through traditional forms of interaction (a revered but marginalised activity), where we attend specific venues and interact with the work in a private experience. This is art as museum piece and while important in our cultural identity it is removed from our daily lives, activities and social interaction. There are a scarcity of venues to engage with art, a scarcity of those who can mediate the art experience and of those who fund and pay for art.  It’s exclusivity and specialisation gives it a scarcity that works well for a very small minority. The irony is that if an entrepreneurial, purely economic approach was taken then more active engagement and sustainable existences could be spread more broadly across artistic and cultural endeavors.

The revered marginalisation of work benefits those who can interpret and allocate scarce resources.  So what if, in the digital world, the resources are not scarce?  Someone doesn’t have to choose how to fill limited wall space in a gallery, choose the compositions that will be played in a venue, or the ones that will make it to a CD? In this digital world, people can have a direct relationship with the works, all of which are available instantly and accessible in daily life where consumers can search for their preferences, or follow the recommendations of like-minded networks. If work is made for an accessible audience then the potential for that work to be a part of our living culture grows.

In the digital era the concept of selling content is diminishing rapidly. For artists there is the potential to look creatively at their entire practice and see if the tools they create to produce work have value in their own right. Artists have trained themselves in this key ingredient before they start; looking at the world from a different perspective and creatively interpreting it.

Gavin Artz
Gavin Artz is the Chief Executive Officer of ANAT. His experience in business management ranges from multi-national companies, to not-for-profit community organisations. His diverse background spans arts and commerce – with a BA in Politics; Double Bass and Composition Studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music; a Graduate Certificate in Business Management; and he is now completing his MBA. After working as a professional musician for many years, Gavin is currently pursuing creativity in business management with a focus on governance and strategy.

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Watch More

What happens when material things become free? Long Tail author and Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson examines new models of wealth distribution and claims we’re moving from economies of scarcity to an age of abundance.

Crowdsourcing is the act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call. Look for the book by Jeff Howe, the man responsible for identifying the term, this August.

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One Response to “Art, Living Culture and the Entrepreneurial Mind”

  1. admin says:

    This is an interesting article on the topic – ‘Making a living as an artist’