Remember when we, or someone we knew, believed that business and art couldn’t go hand in hand? It was understood that business required analytical, strict, and decisive individuals who always knew what their next move was. The artist however is always exploring, experimenting, and double-minded on what to call their work, which color to use, where to apply it and why. The business minded often enjoys the luxuries of life and the artist quietly keeps to themselves working days and nights, trying to sell and survive. How could characteristics like these ever mesh? Where could the positive results come from?
Well the fact is that there are individuals who are disrupting the status quo and challenging those who dominate the market with their linear thinking. They are equipped with the capabilities of keeping large firms and big businesses on their toes and I like to think that these people are the contemporary entrepreneurs of our generation. For example, the sheer amount of independent artists and their creative works in the world is staggering. A problem however, has existed with discovering these gems of beauty… until recently.
Mallorie Brodie, founder of Start Gallery, is a local contemporary entrepreneur who is making strides with her online gallery. She took the initiative of developing a website that showcases the talent of local artists while providing users the opportunity to buy the work. Launched in London in August 2011, Brodie’s mission is to promote and sell the original artwork of Canadian emerging artists. Curating with Mallorie is Moira Mckee, who also strives to advance the presence of new artistic talent.
I had a chance to catch up with Mallorie and ask a few questions about Start Gallery.
What is your opinion of businesses (like Kickstarter and Vimeo), which provide creative works of art directly to the consumer?
The online world is creating amazing opportunities for creative projects to be incredibly successful. Platforms such as Kickstarter allow members to browse through hundreds of innovative ideas that may have otherwise remained undiscovered. A sense of community is created when people can collectively help each other out and I think that is one of the reasons why people keep contributing to the Kickstarter projects.
What are your concerns?
Some of my concerns are that buyers remain hesitant to make large purchases online. In the art world, this poses a definite challenge. Complementary activities, such as pop-up art galleries, where buyers will have an opportunity to see the art in person, should help.
What do you hope to accomplish?
Start Gallery hopes to give young artists a greater presence on the web. Although blogs are a wonderful tool, it is difficult for an individual artist to generate a lot of traffic. By exhibiting a large collection of art by many different artists, and giving buyers the ability to make their purchase directly on the site, Start Gallery is able to attract a larger audience and bring awareness to many talented artists.
The creative individuals of companies like Start Gallery, Kickstarter and Vimeo have realized this gap between creative individuals and the market; and are capitalizing. One example would be the XOXO Festival which was an idea proposed by Andy Baio and Andy McMillan. Both individuals submitted a pledge of $125,000 on Kickstarter.com and received funding within 4 days of their proposal. Their purpose was simple, “XOXO is a celebration of disruptive creativity…If you have an audience and a good idea, nothing’s standing in your way.”
Andy Baio posts on his website, waxy.org, a commencement speech by Neil Gaiman to the graduating class of 2012 from the University of the Arts. He points out a particular section that resonated with him and after reading it myself; I would have to agree with his reaction. Here is a little taste,
“The distribution channels that people had built over the last century or so are in flux for print, for visual artists, for musicians, for creative people of all kinds”.
Which is, on the one hand, intimidating, and on the other, immensely liberating…You can be as creative as you need to be to get your work seen.
For anyone who does not know who Neil Gaiman is, he is an established writer and creator and is recorded in the Dictionary of Literary Biography as one of the top ten living post-modern writers. Therefore, when he states that the distribution channels are shifting for creative individuals, it seems hard to remain skeptical.
Take a look at Vimeo for instance. This video-sharing website has earned the respect of being one of the 50 best websites according to Time. The article acclaims, “Vimeo is the video-streaming service of choice for creative types — the indie darling to YouTube’s blockbuster.” Other articles have had the joy of bashing on Vimeo as a poor business that cannot earn a respectable amount of revenue based on its 55 million users pool. The article, written by Erin Griffith at Pandodaily.com states, “Vimeo has remained staunchly focused on its users with no apparent business model”. However, supporters of the Vimeo community disagree. Compromising the enjoyable experience of the user when trying to achieve better profit margins does not exist in their dictionary. For that, I salute them. Creative integrity is what they are all about and this is what will garner them rewards and respect beyond measure. It will simply take some time and no one knows this fact more than entrepreneurs.
It is evident when looking at these businesses and perusing the web that passion and persistence are key ingredients to successful start-ups. Creative individuals and artists display these ingredients the minute they decide to take their desires seriously and the results are positively limitless.
Creativity is becoming a driving force for businesses because these types of individuals are learning how to take risks that are positive in nature. They practice the art of generating ideas constantly, they know how to handle all sorts of critics and they are always keeping up with the current trends. Creating disruptive technologies, which will capture niche markets that seemed non-existent is what creative people have the ability to do. Much like the title of Seth Godin’s recently published book, ‘As Entrepreneurs we need to learn how to Poke the Box’. What better way to “poke” at the status quo than by practicing an art? Try painting, drawing, making a short film or buying a work of art that resonates with you. Or take some time to visit the websites that were highlighted above. I’m sure you will be surprised about what you learn about yourself and how it will disrupt our common way of perceiving the world.
Posted by: Harman Grewal