Thanks for your thoughtful and detailed response.
As I explained in another post, I do not have a problem with artists selling
their work or making a living. I also pointed out there that my main day job
remains being an artist and I expect my practice to pay its way (and me). I
donıt subsidise my work with my academic role. However, I do have a problem
with commodification and capitalism enough that I relocated from a more
capitalist environment (Australia) to a more socialist one (Europe) as soon
as I was able (25 years ago).
I have tried various economic models for my work. As I explained in another
post, the tactic of selling an experience, rather than a collectible
artefact, and employing the sort of funding model used in theatre worked
well for me but this only works so long as there is significant public
funding available as the audience still donıt pay in this model. The venues
do and they are non-profits so they are free. Their income comes from the
state, who also often pay for the development costs of the project as well.
I know that in the US this model could not function.
I have tried the stackımıhigh and sellımıcheap route. In the 1990ıs I
produced a couple of editions (in the thousands) of CDROMıs, again partly
state funded but also working with a well established specialist publisher.
This worked well and all the CDıs were sold, and in many different countries
and cheap. I didnıt make much money (a few pennies on each sale) and nor
did the publisher. We decided we would market them like books, so they were
on the market at US$20 or thereabouts. We packaged them like books and the
first even had a little book inside it. However, what has bothered me since
is these items appearing on the secondary market at unbelievably inflated
prices. You will see them selling for hundreds of dollars (even more) but at
the same time you can sometimes find one on Amazon (so I guess some are
still out there in the system that were sold in batches) at much lower
prices (although still factors higher than we sold them for). I receive no
royalties on these sales as the publisher was bought out by a bigger one and
then that one was bought (I think this is the part of the publishing model
that is profitable as publishers rarely make money selling books) and after
15 years I canıt keep track of sales. The main thing that bothers me here is
the profit motive driving the process. It would be good to able to legislate
against that (I imagine I wouldnıt be a very popular person in the States).
[log in to unmask] [log in to unmask] Skype: simonbiggsuk
Research Professor edinburgh college of art http://www.eca.ac.uk/
Creative Interdisciplinary Research into CoLlaborative Environments
Electronic Literature as a Model of Creativity and Innovation in Practice
From: Catharine Clark | Catharine Clark Gallery <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Fri, 19 Mar 2010 18:28:20 -0700
To: Simon Biggs <[log in to unmask]>, 'Ken Goldberg' <[log in to unmask]>
Cc: <[log in to unmask]>, <[log in to unmask]>,
<[log in to unmask]>
Subject: RE: one way to own a work of art on the Web
If you are not comfortable selling your work then you shouldnıt sell it. If
you are, then you have to identify a model that is true to your work.
Re-sale is another issue entirely. Artists in California are protected a bit
in that they get a 5% cut on re-sale of their work if it sells for more than
the original sales price and is sold by a private individual and brokered by
a dealer or auction house to another person. Dealer to dealer sale does not
amount in a re-sale royalty for the artist.
It is true that much work created on the web was intended to subvert
commodification and therefore artists are not inclined to sell it.
Collectors who are interested in acquiring this kind of work, like Theo
Armour was in purchasing Kenıs, are partly interested in somehow being a
part of the patronage that surrounds the rather ³new² form of artistic
practice. In our opinion, as long as he was willing to respect the access
issues inherent in the work being web-based, we felt it was appropriate to
assign a value and some rules and make the sale. Not all artists working in
this way (or many dealers, frankly) would want to try to figure out how to
develop the terms of such a transaction. I donıt imagine we will be selling
a lot of this kind of work but it was an exciting exercise and challenge to
meet the collectorıs desires in terms that were favorable to Kenıs work. If
your desire is to keep things accessible and infinitely reproducible then
you might look at models like that of Packard Jenningsı video sales, where
he feels distribution for a small fee (to cover his costs) trumps selling it
for a lot of money, partly because his messages are political and subject to
expiration (a change of presidency, for example, might render some of his
work less cogent). He therefore makes open editions and sells them for $25
As far as re-sale goes, it is a difficult thing to get too upset about.
People will collect all kinds of things that are free or cheap at some point
and later sell it to whomever will pay for it. Thatıs the market place and
as long as we live in the US, supply and demand will be in play when it
comes to trying to sell something (I am amazed at what people buy/sell).
Packard worked on the fake NY Times, for example, that was originally
distributed for free. Now if you want one you have to buy it from whomever
is selling them on the web at whatever they are asking (or you are willing
to pay), etc.
I hope this provides some insight into the process by which we price work
and/or agree to sell it in the first place.
Edinburgh College of Art (eca) is a charity registered in Scotland, number SC009201