Building Be My Medici – An Open Letter to Artists

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Dear Artists,

You may be wondering what we have been up to lately. And if you are one of the artists who applied to our Artist Call earlier this year, you may particularly want to know where things stand on the selection of artists for the platform.

As you may know, our Artist Call ended with success. We received nearly 700 applications from all over the world and more than 450 artists took our Artist Survey. A great number of messages of support were sent by artists, many as comments in our Artist Survey (you can find a sampling of these messages in our latest newsletter). This warm reception by the artist community gave us the final go-ahead we needed to charge ahead.

Having the artists’ enthusiastic support, we addressed the curator community with our Open Call to Curators. Talented and devoted professionals from different parts of the world applied, showing interest in the patronage model we propose and in joining the Be My Medici Curator Team that stands behind it.

Right now we are in the middle of a productive exchange with the prospective Be My Medici curators. Their contribution as to how we can make this model achieve its maximum potential is both necessary and valuable. Our Curator Team will soon be in place. Once it is, the curators will review the applications and select artists to join the platform, which is expected to launch in Q4 2016 / Q1 2017.

We are also in the process of building the Be My Medici website. The focus of the project is on creating an experience that is pleasurable for both art lovers/collectors and the artists who use the site.

Our primary objective is to create an effective tool for artists to support their practice in a sustainable way, by drawing on the noble tradition of art patronage and bringing it into the digital era.

If you applied to our Artist Call and want to know what is happening with your application, we ask for your patience. We promise that the groundwork we are putting in now will worth the wait. Successful applicants will be contacted by email this fall, at which time we will also announce through our newsletter that the artists for the platform have been selected. If at that point you are not among the artists selected, please know that our portfolio of artists, severely limited initially, will be expanded to keep pace with the growing patron base.

The small, focused portfolio of artists is just one of the aspects by which Be My Medici aspires to set itself apart from the other online art platforms out there: We want to provide discoverability and secure patrons for all participating artists, and not for the lucky few. We are interested in pioneering a new online patronage model for the visual arts that supports quality rather than quantity, for the sake of patrons and artists alike.

If you share this vision with us, here is something you can do to help make it a reality: You can introduce art lovers and collectors in your circle to Be My Medici and invite them to join the Be My Medici Patron Mailing List. On launch, they will be the first to know, and will receive a discount code as thanks for their early adoption. By helping Be My Medici get off the ground, not only may you benefit your own practice, but you will have a hand in the emergence of a new artist-focused model of patronage that can grow and go on to great things.

More exciting news coming soon.

 

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Building our own structures: 48 hours to the (first) finish line

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Artists cannot afford to wait or look for someone to save them. They have to do that for themselves. I thought I was doing just that when I started applying to artist calls in January 2014, but I was not quite there. We have to defend our right to exist and to do that by applying to “opportunities” is not nearly enough. We have to go further. We have to build our own structures.

– From Back with a new idea and a call to action, The Artist’s Predicament

This passage is from an article written back in February recapitulating my effort over the past two years trying to get my work as an artist out there, and reviewing the course of this blog that was in a way the culmination of this effort. The Artist’s Predicament started when I felt I had some lessons from this venture worth sharing.

And, as I concluded in that same article, what seems to have been the greatest lesson learned is this: We artists have to build our own structures.

If we don’t like the way art is presented by the predominant channels in charge of bringing it to the public…

If we believe that rather than a commodity, art is a cultural product of high social value and as such should be presented outside the current commodity-oriented models, fit for all that is bought and sold but art…

If we believe that a portion of art lovers and aspiring patrons find the existing ways of connecting with artists too vulgar to engage in, and remain inactive in terms of supporting artists because of that..

­… then surely there is no time to waste.

We owe it to ourselves and to the part of us that is still the “dreamer” we started out as, having so far managed to resist to the cynicism threatening to take over even this last citadel of art, to defend this dream and create space for it in the real world.

My idea was to build an online patronage platform where artists and patrons would be able to connect in a way that is sustainable and dignified for the artist and respectful of the art lover’s appreciation of art and sense of taste.

The Be My Medici platform is now in the first stages of becoming a reality thanks also to artists’ enthusiasm and support.

After a fruitful period of connecting with artists and art lovers, in which a great deal of useful feedback was gained through our Artist and Patron Surveys, but also through interesting conversations with friends and colleagues, the first critical phase of this project is almost complete: The Be My Medici Open Call to artists is soon coming to a close. The number of submissions we have received from artists all over the world already allows us to call the call a success. We want to thank the artists who placed their trust in this idea by applying.

And with that, the Be My Medici project advances triumphantly to its next phase: The Open Call to Curators.

To artists who haven’t applied, there are still 48 hours to go before our Open Call to artists closes (deadline is May 15 at midnight EST).

To those who have already applied, please consider making the best of this 48-hour window by spreading the word to other artists in your circle: You will be giving them the chance to participate in something that could shake up the art scene’s stagnant waters.

Featured image: Illustration from the book “Perspective of the Regular Solids” (Perspectiva Corporum Regularium),  Wenzel Jamnitzer, 1568 (via BibliOdyssey)

What makes this platform an opportunity for modern-day patrons of the arts

Lorenzo di Medici

Dear art lovers, collectors and modern-day patrons of the arts,

You may already be acquainted with the patronage model proposed by Be My Medici.

In this post I hope to convince you that the patronage platform we are creating will not only be an innovative mechanism for supporting art and artists, but also a destination that can bring art into your everyday life.

Let’s start with the artist’s perspective. The model of patronage we propose is a response to an increasingly acute phenomenon: More and more artists are unable to make ends meet, regardless of the quality of their work and their productivity. In art, more than in most other professions, an individual can excel in what they do and still be unable to cover their basic needs.

Now let’s try to see things from your perspective, that of the art lover and collector: Even though you find pleasure in art, it’s hard for you to make it an integral part of your day to day. Your fast-paced life makes it difficult to devote the time needed to follow and support artists you like by navigating the gallery system. What’s more, the current gallery model can be rather alienating, and in some cases incompatible with your tastes. This difficulty robs you of the pleasure of acquiring original works, not to mention the satisfaction of creating a collection all your own.

The model we propose aspires to bridge the gap between excellent artists who find it difficult to sustain their practice and art lovers looking for an approachable outlet for their appreciation of original art under the current paradigm.

Be My Medici will make finding and supporting artists easy, simple and fun. This is how:

  • An easily navigated platform will let you browse a curated portfolio of artists. This will not be just another chaotic and incoherent database of artists. Curation will ensure high-quality content and coherence of vision.
  • By using filters you will be able to choose artists whose work matches your tastes.
  • By supporting one or more artists from the platform, you will be able to grow your collection of originals: As a token of thanks for their support, patrons will receive small-scale original artworks in the mail. If you don’t have a collection yet, Be My Medici will be a perfect way to start.
  • This will be an affordable model of patronage.
  • The postal mail you receive will suddenly become interesting: Instead of just bills and promotions, you will start receiving correspondence; Not just any correspondence, but original artworks.
  • The collection you create will be totally unique: The monthly artwork sent by the artist will be a surprise. This will allow you to create an idiosyncratic collection of originals while reviving the excitement of old fashioned correspondence.
  • The platform will add value to your experience as patron in yet another way: You will have the option of making your activity as patron and collector visible on the platform and of sharing your views and comments on the artworks you receive.

If you aren’t yet convinced of how what we are creating can bring art into your everyday life, we leave it to our Patron Survey to finish the job. Completing the survey will give you more details about the platform and will offer you a chance to contribute your own thoughts and ideas. We would love your help in making Be My Medici great.

Featured image: Girolamo Macchietti’s painting of Lorenzo (the Magnificent) de’ Medici (1449-1492)

 

Back with a new idea and a call to action

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This blog began in the summer of 2015 mainly as a place to share my ongoing experience of applying to artist calls in an effort to get my work out there. From July to December 2015 nearly every Sunday I would publish an article documenting the good and the bad from this venture. Each post was accompanied by the call I was responding to that week, in the spirit of providing an extra insight into my process and hopefully a resource the reader could immediately act upon.

In a way the blog represented the culmination of a two-year process of unprecedented extroversion on my part in reaching out with my work. This activity was fueled partly by a sense of despair at the obscurity I was feeling my work doomed to as well as the realization that the angel I was waiting for was me: I could not afford to wait to be “discovered”. A belief I still have, only, after this experience, it bears a somewhat different meaning.

As these two years of applications came to a close I couldn’t help feeling drained. I needed to slow down. At the end of 2015 I started applying less and less and in January 2016 I broke my rigid application schedule altogether. The fatigue from the whole process expressed itself in a difficulty maintaining my writing regimen as well. Sometime in November I decided a change of pace was in order. Now that some time has passed, behind this need for a break I can see something more than mere fatigue.

I would say that I am a rather positive person, usually inclined to see the brighter side of things. Over these two years I succeeded in maintaining a “constructive” (for the needs of my effort) outlook, even in a hail of rejections. I felt that even though, as I found out midway, most “opportunities” out there are anything but, it was nevertheless worth it to keep up the application schedule, spend the time I spent weeding out the wrong kind of opportunities, finding what was best for me and applying with a system. It seemed like the handful of “gems” made it worth swimming in a sea of lures cast by the parasites of the art world.

I am tempted to say that, in the end, it’s not. Worth it that is. But I won’t. I will say that it is worth it up to a point and for a limited amount of time. Maybe only for one to reach to this conclusion, perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned from this experience: Artists cannot afford to wait or look for someone to save them. They have to do that for themselves. I thought I was doing just that when I started applying to artist calls in January 2014, but I was not quite there. We have to defend our right to exist and to do that by applying to “opportunities” is not nearly enough. We have to go further. We have to build our own structures.

The models offered by those claiming they want to “help” artists or create opportunities for them are 9 times out of 10 not sustainable. At least not for the artist. The only ones who can build or propose models designed with the artist in mind are the artists themselves.

Questions like: How can an artist maintain a sustainable practice? How can society sustain its artists? How can an era sustain its spirit as it can live on in the artist’s work? These need to be answered with the artist and the artwork in mind first and not as part of some predatory venture.

Lately I have been spending the time I used to spend on “artist opportunities” on a new project: A new model of art patronage platform with the artist in mind, one that frames the patron-artist relationship outside of the marketplace and the logic of the artist’s “fan base”.

For this I would like to invite artists to take this Art Patronage Platform Survey and help prototype this platform so that it becomes a tool we can use to help ourselves.

For more on the New Art Patronage Platform initiative, please refer here. And if you wish to remain up to date on this effort and be notified about the platform’s forthcoming artist call, you are invited to Like the initiative’s page.

UPDATE: You can subscribe to our mailing list at this page and be the first to know about our open call to artists interested in joining the platform.

Featured Image: Be My Medici logo