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A metaphor - Peter Hentges

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April 28th, 2010


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12:35 pm - A metaphor
As I ate my breakfast this morning, I was struck by a thought that was obviously sparked by the honey I'd poured on my Cheerios.

It related to a business idea that I've been toying with for some time.

You see, a lot of my friends are artists. Some of the write, some of them make visual art, some of them make music. Any or all of them could very well have a web site at which they sell the products of their art. Individually, however, they are likely lost in the great sea that is the Internet. Difficult to find and difficult to stand out from the crowd.

My thought for a business would be to act as a kind of gallery owner or curator, collecting the best stuff by the best artists and packaging it pleasantly for people to find and buy. I would take a small cut of the sales for my efforts and pass the majority on to the artists. In addition, I'd act as coach for the artists in building up a following to bring them closer to their 1,000 True Fans.

While I don't expect that many of them would get 1,000 True Fans, taking even small steps in that direction could be useful to them. Ctein, for example, built on the idea I'd discussed with him to turn it into about a third of his income last year. Not enough to live on, but enough to make a significant contribution towards his continuing to make his art.

So on to the metaphor:

Art is honey. Artists, like bees, make art by taking in what's around them and turning it into something special. They do this naturally, without any intervention from others necessary. Like bees, they will make enough to sustain themselves through lean times if they are able and will even make more than necessary.

A beekeeper, or at least a wise one, lets the bees do their thing with as little interference as possible. He provides a safe environment for their work and ample space to store their product. At the end of the summer, the beekeeper collects the surplus honey, leaving enough for the bees to survive the winter so they can begin again in the spring.

A beekeeper might move a hive to a place where the bees will have access to particular resources or where they might provide a service to others as part of their work. He will also package and market the honey he acquires from the bees, making a living for himself.

So I'm thinking that I might want to be a beekeeper, or to step back out of the metaphor, an artist-keeper. Not quite a patron, not quite an editor. Someone that cultivates an environment for artists to do their artistic thing, makes sure they are well-cared for and takes a little honey for himself.

I welcome your thoughts on this.

(3 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:jtidball
Date:April 28th, 2010 06:12 pm (UTC)
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You might consider a site like Etsy when thinking about this. How would you be different/similar?
[User Picture]
From:jbru
Date:April 28th, 2010 06:24 pm (UTC)
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The primary differentiator is the lack of egalitarianism. That is, eBay and Etsy have some good things, but because everyone can set up shop in these places, they also have leagues of crap.

Also, they have things that I'm not interested in that are not crap. But I don't have a good way of determining if the thing I'm seeing there will be considered crap by someone that's interested in that thing. That is, I might know my mom likes to knit, but will she like this batch of yarn spun by hand from the hair of someone's dog?

If I had a curator I trusted, or a way to develop a relationship with the artist directly, I could answer that question. What I've seen of Etsy, for example, doesn't allow for such a thing.
[User Picture]
From:vgqn
Date:April 29th, 2010 04:24 pm (UTC)
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You said it yourself, what you want to be is a gallery owner. The good kind, of course. The kind that nurtures the artists and shows their work at their best. Also the kind who has or develops contacts (or better, long relationships) with buyers whose taste matches yours and who trust your judgment.

It's a more obvious role in RL, where a buyer and a piece of art must physically meet. (Yeah, yeah, there are photographs and remote buyers, but you know what I mean, most of it was in-person.)

So what do gallery owners do in RL that you could do virtually? They mount shows, featuring particular artists. In RL, these are time and space limited, not necessary on-line, though limitations of some sort can help push decisions. They host openings for those shows. Maybe you could have a gallery in Second Life, where social events like that could take place? They develop lists of contacts. They represent (sometimes exclusively) particular artists.

I'm just riffing. I think it has potential, but you'd have to figure out what your vision was and how it would stand out.

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