Artist Support Projects is a movement and network. It uses the social media platform Instagram, which is a popular platform for artists to post images and share their work.Artists post their images using #artistsupportpledge giving details of their works and price (no more than £200). If people are interested in buying, they message (DM) the artist. Anyone can buy the work and artists don’t need permission to join.
Every time an artist reaches £1,000 of sales, they pledge to buy £200 of work from other artist(s). I am encouraging donations too, made to particular concerns such as @_hopsitalrooms and Accentuate www.screensouth.
It’s a simple way for both established and emerging artists to support one another on a level playing field. It’s also a great way for buyers to build a taste for collecting and supporting artists globally.
Why did you start it and what where your expectations?
#artistsupportpledge grew from my own practice as an artist and work as an mentor (@artistsupportprojects), and the spirit of generosity in which that operates.
In the build up to the Covid-19 pandemic I could sense the likely impact on artists. Many are saddled with debt and work in gig economies. Artists take huge risks and display a generous spirit to do what they do. The art market is global and dynamic, yet art fairs and galleries were closing, which I could see would inevitably impact on the movement and sales of artworks.
The specifics of #artistsupportpledge came to me when I went out for a run (I’m a bit of a running addict and have been training for the South Downs Way 100 mile ultra-marathon). To start my ambitions were modest, I hoped I might be able to help e few friends and colleagues make it through the pandemic. Within 24 hours it had gone viral and artists were already reporting they had made their first pledge.
How large has the #artistsupportpledge spread by now?
ASP has nearly 200k posts and 43k followers. Of course that does not reflect the scale of the market as many people dip in and out of it and buy work without following. ASP is in every continent (except, I think, Antarctica) and is growing every day.
How many artists and buyers have the pledge had so far?
It’s not easy to be sure how many artists and buyers there are at the moment (not everyone displays their own sales). We have someone doing the economic modelling for us, this give us estimates of the money generated. It’s actually quite complex as each post can be up to ten images and each image can be worth between £20 and £20k depending on if it’s an edition or one off. That doesn’t factor the spin offs – additional website sales etc. Many artists are reporting an increase in sales not on the pledge. We encourage artists to direct buyers to see more expensive work on the websites or via their galleries. Our last estimate was £20 million (!) (and that was a conservative). It’s nearly doubled in size since then.
What are you seeing for the future of the pledge, in the short run, and for the future of the art market in a post-Covid-19 context?
I have been busy building a structure and network of collaborators/partners for ASP. There is a lot going on behind the scenes. I’m really excited about new initiatives and those in the pipeline. I have a small steering group who give me valuable guidance and help when necessary. Crafts Council England are helping spread the message to Makers. ASP is now a Limited not for Profit Company. This has been an important step to allow me to build a stable future. I can now apply for funding and accept donations to help keep it going and establish a team of people to maintain it.
Is the art market glass half full or half empty – and why?
The mainstream art market is always a full glass for the few and an empty one for the many. Last year the Creative Industries were worth 10 billion in the UK alone, and yet, the average professional artist earns less than 10k. I do not accept the mythology of the starving artist as an ideal. Success is a practice that is sustainable and able to maintain its creative integrity. Most artists do not require huge wealth, rather, they need just enough to eat, pay the rent, buy materials, and have time in the studio.
Your final goal with the #artistsupportpledge is…?
To be an example to the world of a sustainable global culture and economy for ALL artists that respects both our diverse ethnologies and ecosystems. We must start to see that we must have both for an culture and economy to work and call itself successful.
Lastly, what are your best advice to an artist maybe struggling with the effects of Covid-19, right now?
Give your day structure and purpose. Don’t judge yourself or others, be generous to all. If you are posting work on ASP, give it your best. Build your profile over a couple of weeks by posting regularly and keep your followers informed about your story and work. Remember your success, is our community’s success; and an example to all that we can build a more equal and sustainable culture and economy.
Read more about the Artist Support Pledge and how you can take part, here: https://artistsupportpledge.com.