Again, I am impressed with what F+W media Inc and DeviantArt accomplished, although, both of these platforms begin to feel outdated.
Let us begin with F+W media: They started as a small family-based firm and in a few years expanded thru cooperations and acquisitions and consolidated part of the fragmented creative market, and now have 300+ employees. Their main income streams (I guess) come from providing on-line workshops for budding artists, collecting art instruction movies and sharging for viewing them, and from old-fashioned ads. These things worked well 5+ years ago, but let us be honest, today such income streams are losing its power: People don’t want the ads, and they don’t need to pay for instruction videos, but sure, the workshops can still be of value.
Another thing I am missing is creating new markets where artists get paid for what they are doing. It is one thing to let artists connect to each other and become more skilled, another to make them successful.
Artists not getting paid for expressing their passion has been the plague in the artworld for a long long time, and it pisses me off that we haven’t developed enough viable markets where we transform artists from unpaid losers to paid winners. Artists getting PAID for what they are doing is the BIG issue. That is why I have spent the last 2-4 years examining how we make winners of artists. In my opinion we need to create new inspiring buy-and-sell markets for artists. There is several ways to accomplish that, and I can see how for example F+W could create more value by implementing these new markets.
It is the same with deviantart.com. They did a fantastic job by creating a community for artists, a fair amount of them cutting edge artists that bring the entire genre forward. Bless them for that. But again, we see a community where artists just hang out and learn from each other, without getting paid. (Sure, they offer some print-shops for their artists, but how many artists get paid more than 10 buck a month in those shops?)
In other words, both F+W media and DeviantArt have been doing a brilliant job creating inspiring places for artists to hang in, but the problem is that they don’t create updated buy-and-sell markets that are truly inspiring to the audience and the artists. The end result is communities where artists remain unpaid losers.
We need to create new commercial markets for artists around the world, and not just let them “hang” with each other. So they can become truly successful.
How do we do that?
Let me give you three small glimpses on three areas:
1. 1-on-1 art coaching, where amateurs pay professionals to get immediate feedback on their art, learn how to sell their art, and learn how to establish as a pro, etc. The students get feedback through email (cheapest), chat, Skype calls, and live meetups (most expensive). If well implemented, that would be the most effective art education system on the planet.
2. Art auctions – half to the artist, half to charity
Artists upload their artworks on-line and the rest bid on it. At a certain time every day the auctions are finished, the buyer pays and the artist sends hir artwork to the buyer. Half of the money goes to the artist and the rest goes to a higher cause, like Greenpeace stopping urban air pollution, Amnesty, some art initiative, etc.
(This may sound complicated, but the system worked when I tested it: I trid it for three months on a tiny micro level, directly on Instagram @bildakuten, letting Swedish artists upload their artworks for bidding. I started with just 26 followers, but it actually took off from the very start, and we sold for about $5000 in three months (as a proof, you can see all sells and buys at bildakuten.com, or check out @bildakuten). To get revenues, you could charge 20% of the income we brought to the charity organization.
How do you think it feels to hold a piece of art in your hands that you know the artist has worked with for hours?
3. Featured news, interviews, and videos. Nothing new or revolutionary, but still worth to iterate: Elfwood community (or other community) volunteers can make interviews of interesting professinal artists, and give info on what is happening in the Fantasy & SciFi world. This is a very fun thing to do, and an opportunity for the amateur to get in touch with a big name or industry. Some of the news, interviews, and videos the interviewers and Elfwood get paid for.