Sharing art

Reading about the so-called ‘new’ sharing economy, it struck me that I have been sharing my art for most of my life (I am now 75 years old). How has this happened?

1) I made gifts of my paintings to friends and relatives. (A few friends also bought works.) I bore all the production costs from earnings from other full time and part time jobs and from pensions, while creating at weekends and in holidays, and in retirement years.

2) I displayed paintings in solo and group exhibitions which were mostly free to the public. I paid transportation costs, and sometimes for free food and wine. Once I received a grant from an arts charity to pay for the hire of a local community gallery.

3) I donated works to public art collections (e.g. Wolverhampton Museum of Art.)

4) With advent of the internet I sent images of my paintings to friends via email. I also posted images on facebook and on fine art sites such as 4Art and the Guardian’s Your Art. I also posted images on local history websites where the subject matter was relevant. (I usually received positive responses from users of these sites but no sales.)

My motives were mixed. I made art to be seen and enjoyed by others. It was also of course personal vanity – looking for praise and admiration, trying to build a reputation. It was also in part a marketing ploy akin to loss leaders in supermarkets.

I guess that my story is commonplace because the vast majority of artists do not become famous enough to earn a living from the sale of their work. Still it is comforting to learn one is a pioneer of the new sharing economy!

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