Free Art from a Turner Prize winner

Last week, I managed to get hold of a limited edition work of art by former Turner Prize winner Keith Tyson.

I was alerted by way of The Guardian, that his website was sending them out on a first come first served basis. Basically I had to enter a few details, and then it instantly downloaded onto my desktop. 1 of 5000. Checked against my IP address so I couldn’t apply for more than one.

I would have told you all about it when it happened, but I’ve had a nasty case of manflu, and haven’t blogged much.

I think the free art idea is a brilliant idea for all manner of reasons. It’s very like Hugh MacLeod’s idea of the social object. Well – it’s probably not his idea per se, but he has brought together the principles in a unique way, and applied them to art, so I’m going to call it his idea.

As an artist – do you do it for love or for money? Would you do it for nothing if you could? It increases the kudos of an artist like Keith Tyson, who has never really cared what the establishment thinks anyway. It gets people talking and generates interest in what he’s doing. People talk about it, and so the meme spreads. It spreads much more than any amount of knocking on doors, showing works in galleries, or chasing lazy over-blown art dealers will ever do.

In fact I’m thinking of doing it myself. I’d far rather you had a piece of my work on the wall for free than not have ANY on your wall because you don’t have the money.

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7 Responses to Free Art from a Turner Prize winner

  1. That’s a truly kind concept. I need to feature you … soon. *hug*

  2. Ivan Pope says:

    Hey Michael, I started the Free Art Movement a while back. Haven’t done much with it, let’s get it started.
    http://blog.ivanpope.com/awol/2008/10/free-art-giving.html

    This free art story is really popular of course – why wouldn’t people queue up to get something that normally they could not afford? Great project, but where does it lead to? Personally, I’ve never tried to sell any work and I’ve never made any money from selling work. I can make a lot more work than I know what to do with. So I’d happily give work away. In fact, I’m going to start doing just that. I’m adopting some lessons from Web 2.0 type startups – give away the product and make money from, well, from something that will turn up later. Whether that is Arts Council funding or selling prints or advertising on the work (that’s a J-O-K-E, almost) or whatever, there must be a better way than the current situation. How often do I go to shows where work I quite like is priced at hundreds or even thousands of pounds. For sure, the artists work does have value and it is up to the artist to price it. But what’s the point of pricing high and then carting it all home again. Or worse, finding that people will buy your work but only if it fits with their idea of what you work should be like. After a while you’re making work that sells rather than making work that doesn’t sell. And while this may seem like a great idea, it’s the death of the artist.
    So, I’m starting the Free Art Movement! (and woo! due to the power of Google I can instantly link you to freeculture.org). Watch this space for the first great art giveaway. Join me, let’s do this thing together: ivan.pope+freeart@gmail.com

  3. artbizness says:

    Hi Guys

    Thanks for your lovely comments. Very interesting stuff.

    Some friends of mine have been doing “Free Art Friday” for a while now, which seems to have gone international. The idea is to leave art out on the street every Friday for anyone to take and put on their wall.

    freeartfriday.com

    I did leave a load of work out this summer on the estate where I live, which was definitely worth doing for many reasons.

    I sometimes wonder about it though – there is a counter to the argument. Would a lawyer be expected to leave art out for nothing as a matter of course? Why should artists be forced to? I mean – no-one’s forcing us to, but is this just a strategy as a last resort to not being able to sell?

    I don’t know – I mean, from my post, I guess you can tell that I don’t believe that, but I do have to make a living somehow.

    I’m not sure what it means, but it just seems like a good thing to do on a gut level that I haven’t quite figured out yet.

  4. sanctusboscus says:

    If your going to leave the Hoody Christ out on the street let me know and I will fly to London to pick it up M -)

  5. artbizness says:

    Not quite…. But maybe something similar…

  6. jafabrit says:

    I have been doing it for a couple of years and earlier this year our jafagirl group got a local grant to do it in conjunction with the local effort by the chamber of commerce to promote our village.
    I am also a member of the flickr group šŸ™‚ Great group of people and some really fine art too.

    The public seemed to enjoy it and it did help promote our village, but I didn’t feel it was a good idea on the scale we did it (once a month we left 20 pieces of art on the third friday). It became predictable and contrary to the very reason why I liked the concept in the first place, the unpredictable nature of it. People came to expect free art and that took the joy out of it for me. I am now back to the occasional fridays. I have had a few people come to the gallery and seek out my work specifically because they found a piece of my art.

    Hey you know laywers sometimes work pro bono šŸ˜‰

    Not sure how I found you, but hey, happy new year and happy creating.

  7. artbizness says:

    Thanks for the comments jafabrit.

    They’re interesting thoughts. I guess I’ve not being doing it quite as long as you, and so haven’t got to that stage yet, but I can see how you would start to feel that way about it.

    Really like your blog, BTW. Let’s stay in touch.

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