Artists Insurance Program

Artist Insurance Program

Here is a problem:

Artists are congenitally poor or so the expression "starving artist" would have us believe. Art, overall, is undervalued (or valued correctly and really just not that important). Being just an artist while living is a difficult proposition. Yet there continue to be artists whose artwork does end up having value - often expressed monetarily - sometimes quite exorbitantly. However, the number of artists or creators who reach this well-remunerated level is, at best, piddling. To complicate matters further, sometimes even the wildly popular are not the direct recipients of all of their work's worth but are instead made fools of on the secondary market.

Here is a possible solution:

Artists often know many other of their kind through schooling or group shows, collaborative projects and bad parties.

We can extrapolate from history that a percentage of these artists will end up being “successful.”

When an artist becomes successful their artwork, including and perhaps especially their early artwork, often garners a market value.

If the last three statements are true, does it not follow that as a means of communal insurance a group of artists should be inclined to systematically create and exchange artwork amongst themselves?

Here is the working method:

1. If you are an artist, select thirty of your artist friends.

2. Inform them of this idea and confirm their participation.

3. Take one month of your life (1/840th of life, give or take a year).

4. Make one piece of work each day of that month – nothing monumental, just something an auctioneer can attach your name to.

5. Exchange your work. Be sure to include sufficient marks for matters of provenance.

6. Take the piece from your friend and secure your new acquisition in protective materials. Store it in a dry, clean place away from excessive cats, weather, light, etc

7. Wait 20 years. Strangely, this will turn out to not seem that long.

8. Google your former friends.

9. If even one of your thirty friends flowered into a life of quasi-fame you will have at least paid for your work during the month, if not become independently wealthy.

Now, 1 of 30 is perhaps too optimistic of odds. Of course you would pick your artist friends you felt were most likely to succeed. Still, it may make more sense to extend this project to two or three months. Odds of 1 in 100 approach reasonable certainty if selected for quality. I would encourage trading with those living in large urban centers, particularly New York. Based on history, to increase your chances I would pick white, upper-class males, preferably those educated at schools with names you recognize on the coast (If you can’t go Ivy League – CalArts, MICA, RISD, SAIC, and Savannah). Research your friends’ backgrounds - are their parents involved in the arts? Do they already know some wealthy patrons? Magazine editors? Curators?

If we are to be constrained to a caste system in even our artistic production and dissemination, the least we can do for our fellow friends and artists is to ensure that when a rising tide lifts one boat the rest of our broken, disaffected dinghies don’t have to go work for Utrecht.

I am available for public policy think tanks.

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