We don’t say this often enough: our artists are amazing.
And we don’t mean just the best sellers, the high flyers, the deeply conceptual or the boundary pushers, we mean all of our 6,000 sellers: collectively, communally, together.
How do we know this? How can we even speak about them en mass? They work alone in their studios, in 97 countries around the world. In most cases they’ve never even met each other, right?
In June 2015, we launched our Artists Forum – a private space where our artists could talk to each other. Our hopes for it were that it would become a place where they would be able to share knowledge, to swap advice, maybe to organise meet-ups or exhibitions together.
To begin with, comments on our forum were directed at us. Of course they were. You open up a channel of direct communication between yourself and one of your customer groups and they’re going to have questions and concerns.
So we spent a few weeks answering questions, manning it like a customer support channel, mega excited by the level of engagement, but also exhausted by the onslaught. But we dealt with it, one day at a time, one conversation at a time.
The Magic of Community
And then, one day in November, something magical happened.
Louise Pirotta, a French artist living in America responded to a thread about culture in artists’ local areas. Louise said, ‘if you want culture where I live, you buy yoghurt.’
Everyone laughed and got on with their day.
And then a simple but brilliant thing happened.
Someone did an artwork themed around yoghurt. Then someone else did. Then someone else.
Netherlands-based artist Boris Novak suggested the creation of a Yogurt Culture Project, and the whole thing grew from there.
Soon the thread had outgrown any in the forum’s history at 200+ pages and was having to curated and managed by a whole host of artists - UK-based Anita Ives and Australian Damien Venditti, UK-based Steve Gostling to name but a few, who stepped forwards heroically to handle the admin.
Fast forward a few weeks and we had a collection of 119 artworks from 63 artists in 26 countries and 15 languages, including a very healthy number of sales.
Suddenly we realised we’d moved from the forum being simply a place where artists could communicate to it being a place where artists could organise, collaborate, create movements. They made this happen themselves – we facilitated it, we provided the logistical solution that allowed it to happen – but we don’t own it. We never will.
And that’s fine by us.
Our artists make Artfinder brilliant
Because of our artists, Artfinder is no longer just a place where art is bought and sold, it has grown into a global community of artists who are working together, supporting each other both in their work and in their life, and whose total sum is much, much greater than their parts.
Because of them we now have collaborative exhibitions popping up all over the world, plus other collaborations happening on site such as the 'An Artwork a Day' project, and the 'Rain' project.
Because of them we are now actively working on projects that can continue to enable them in this way – including an exciting project working with environmental charity, Friends of the Earth (more on that soon).
Because of them we're one step closer to an art world which serves the interests of the many rather than the few. So let's put our hands together for the artists!