Overview and concept
76 million people visit art institutions every year world wide . But only 0.05% of this number are art collectors . A few more, approximately 0.09%, are people in the professional art world, such as gallery owners, art critics, museum employees, etc . As we know, this small percentage of people makes a big impact on the determination of the price of the artworks and the value of art in general. What about the other millions of other people? Why should they not play a more crucial or active role in the art world?
According to the research initiated by the British Art Council in 2004 there are the following reasons why most people are not actively involved in the art market:
“ …Barriers to engagement with (art) market include:
• Practices that have the effect of excluding people
• Feelings of inferiority often in lifestyle
• Fear of feeling intellectually and financially inadequate..”
The two German economists Frey and Pommerehne see the engagement in art market in the possibility of expressing the interest in monetary terms:
“Individuals may not find it easy to express their evaluations of the arts. Their wishes concerning artistic performance can be expressed to varying extend within the various social decision- making systems: in the market act directly expressing their demand in monetary terms, as for example in art auctions, book purchases or theatre attendances.
How could these barriers be broken? How can an artist sell affordable artworks without putting at risk his career or devaluing his work? The next challenging question is: How can art be presented and offered without discriminating and excluding people subtly for their economic and cultural status? Stockartist proposes a solution to these questions.
The core idea of Stockartist comes from the analogy made between the art market and the stock exchange. In both cases, prices are contingent on the information, opinions and hearsay that are generated among the public and the media. In the stock market a company consists of thousands or millions of units called shares. In this way the total value of the company is divided and the price of each share becomes affordable for a substantial portion of the public, who therefore own a piece of the company and can have a say concerning its price and its value in the market. The proposal of Stockartist is to replicate this model for the art world, meaning that artists would play a similar role to companies in the stock market. To make this happen, Stockartist runs two parallel markets: the “real market” and the “reference market”. The reference market is a simulation environment on internet where all artists pull in the stock exchange. Sophisticated programs gather information from multiple sources creating a huge repository with thousands of artists, institutions, curators, exhibitions, etc.. This is used to recalculate the price of every virtual stock daily. And this system is at the same time used as a reference to set up the prices of the “real market”. Artists, who participate in the Stockartist’ “real market”, should create one special artwork. This artwork should be composed of at least 100 pieces called Artstocks or Art-shares. Every Artstock can be acquired independently at an affordable price, which is between 1 and 99 Euros. This mechanism allows the high price of an artwork to be distributed in small amounts, therefore reaching a wider range of people.
Every registered user of Stockartist receive 15,000 units in virtual money to invest in the virtual artstocks of the reference market. Profits of its investment can be exchanged for real. Stockartist considers it important and necessary for the art environment to be fun. The reason is that the element of play is a significant component in courting the attention of people, who may normally feel uninterested or unwelcome in a typically professional art environment. Stockartist presents the aforementioned environment as a game, where people can develop an interest in art through the process of having fun. A successful example of how this model works may be found in online games. There, the sequences “Fun-Communication-Experience” and “Knowledge-Wish-Acquisition” are used to a great effect. In the sequence employed by the existent art market, it is necessary that an individual possess knowledge of art in order to enjoy it or at least purchase it. It is the intent of Stockartist to change this sequence. The goal is to interest people in contemporary art through participation, communication, fun and integration. The main advantage resulting from this change is that people with modest incomes and without prior art knowledge can gain the opportunity to participate in the previously inapproachable art market. Then, they are also able to become art collectors and to enjoy a piece of art with consciousness.
Benefits of this innovative movement are equally visible with artists, art institutions, and the newly diversified group of art consumers, Stockartist shall create a synergism in the relationship and communication among these groups. The activity of ordinary people will be as important as the activities of prestigious art institutions. Artists using this alternative channel will be able to provide their art pieces with affordable prices and increase their sales as a result. In the end, this shall give them additional independence from existing art institutions and encourage them to create more works. Art institutions will also benefit by increasing the possibility to sell art more frequently.
Stockartist is an art project that produces lasting changes that will function socially, economically and artistically. As the main goal is to amplify the target group of the art market, the Stockartist benefits from the most efficient and democratic model of communication- the Internet. Access and detailed information of both markets: reference and real, can be found at the website www.stockartist.org. Online users can acquire, auction and exchange the artstocks or art-shares representing the participating artists, using virtual money on the reference market and real money on the real market. Stockartist counts with a powerful and structured wiki system where data from every artist, institution, curator, exhibition, etc. can be entered by the users and in reward for every item entered correctly, checked by the editorial team, they receive virtual money or page views for their ad campaigns. Every artist maintains a profile that consists of their artstocks information, exhibitions information, images of artworks, links, purchases, etc. Profiles can also be maintained by users who will have the option of selecting favorite works of art, artists, voting history, transactions, etc. Going Offline, Stockartist consists of a global network of institutions that show, promote and sell artstocks. Participation in the Stockartist model is not limited to traditional art institutions, but rather is also available to unique commercial spaces that would like to participate. This will also involve permanent locations in strategic cities around the world. Each city will host organized exhibitions consisting of works based on the Stockartist model.
The Stockartist mechanism works differently for every kind of participant– art lovers, potential art lovers, institutions, commercial spaces, and artists.
The Stockartist website allows art lovers and potential art lovers around the world to participate in the model. Its online and offline activity can also influence the price and value of the artists’ works. People only need to visit the website, sign in, follow the procedures and they can subsequently gain the ability to affect the art market.
Institutions wanting to be part of the Stockartist network should show and promote the artworks based on the Stockartist model. The costs of transportation, insurance, commission, etc. for the artworks will be included in a contract signed by Stockartist and the institution.
In order to participate in the real market, artists will be selected after having registered on the website. Artists should apply by uploading their profiles, photos of their work, and their project proposals. This selection process is based on the PARECON (Participative Economy) model, which states, “The decisions should be taken by the people affected by the decision”. Eighteen people representing three different categories democratically select artists. These categories include people who are not involved in the art world, art specialists (i.e. gallery owners, art critics, etc.), and artists.
Once selected, artists must create their set of “Artstocks”. Selected artists are not required to create a complete set of a hundred pieces or more. They can produce a smaller number as a sample and produce the rest according to demand. In order to keep transportation costs down, Artstocks should be small and light. The size limit is A3 and the weight limit 500g. The Stockartist system requires that every set of Artstocks has a minimum of twenty “shareholders.” This is the reason why the minimum number of Artstocks that artists should conceptualize for their artworks should be one hundred units. Furthermore the total number of Artstocks that the artist pulls out must be finite.
Participating artists and the Stockartist team set the initial prices for the Artstocks. Prices are recalculated daily, based on five indexes taking the information extracted from multiple sources and the data gathered from users of the website: Frequency of Performances on Internet, Publications and Art Criticism, Primary Market Prestige, Secondary Market Turnover and Democratic Influence.The last one includes visits on the artist’s profile, number of votes and the demand of the Artstocks.