COVID-19 has helped us realize how tenuous our 9-5 job security
actually is. We are experiencing in real-time the fragility of the
world’s infrastructure. And so, in an act of self-preservation, we are
looking for ways to protect ourselves, both financially as well as
Which is how COVID-19 has also simultaneously brought with it the evolutionary acceleration of the Gig Economy to the Art Economy.
As most of us are forced to spend our time at home, we are finding a need to unleash creativity. From baking bread to making jewelry. From learning how to build container garden to taking up sumi-e painting. Everywhere you look, there is an overwhelming urge to make something.
And if we are not creating ourselves, we are consuming it wherever we can find it. Masterclass and Udemy. YouTube DIY videos. Zoom cooking classes. Streaming Peloton workouts.
We are adapting, moving to and engaging with digital platforms in new ways.
But one group of creators that these digital platforms have overlooked is artists.
One of my favorite pieces of content during quarantine was watching potter Florian Gadsby’s behind the scenes Instagram videos on his process. There was something mesmerizing about seeing the pottery change form, hearing the ambient sounds of the studio, and understanding what and why Florian was doing.
This content also created a personal dilemma: I want to support Florian, but the only way to do so is to buy a piece of pottery. Now, much to my wife’s chagrin, I am more than happy to buy a piece of his pottery. Unfortunately for me, so do a lot of other people. As soon as his store is updated, it is sold out in minutes.
Which got me thinking: what if there are other ways to support these artists? Is there a way to help artists monetize the “messy middle” (h/t Scott Belsky) of the creation process? Afterall, it is where the magic happens.
I know I value the look into the process that Florian shares on Instagram. I think the world is better off with good people making beautiful art. It is a cause I am happy to financially contribute to. And in the case of Florian, given the size of his audience + the speed at which his pottery sells out, I think others value it as well.
These desires to create and to support creators are driving the evolution of the Gig Economy into something more personal. Today more than ever before in our lifetime, we have a real need for the communal and healing power of art. We need more of it. Which means we also need to make it easier for artists to create it.
To make this happen, we need to build a new space for artists and their communities. Let's take the Patreon and Substack model of supporting writers and comedians and apply it to the art community.
My goal is to make this space a digital Renaissance for artist. Here it will be just as easy to pick up a "creative shift" online as it is to pick up an Instacart shift grabbing groceries. Here artists will be able to build the support of communities that are necessary for pursuing meaningful work.
Take NYC for example. Instead of lugging your equipment to Grand Central Subway Station or setting up your easel in Central Park, you will be able to perform for tips in front of an even larger live audience from your home or studio. You will be able to cultivate a community that not only supports the end result of your work, but the actual creation process as well.
By allowing communities to directly support the artists, we are helping the artists focus on the work they care about most. Given the ability to focus without the financial concerns means artists are able to do better work. And we get better art.
We are standing at the edge of a new Renaissance. And I believe that an artist-focused platform will play a big role in helping us fully harness the rebirth.