Cryptocurrency & Art

Blockchain Art – Preamble – 1 of 2 in the series

By Maurice Cardinal

If you don’t know what a blockchain is and how it impacts art, you’re not alone.

It’s hard to understand, but once you do, a brand new world opens up immediately.

Almost everyone has some type of artistic talent. With substantial practice, making art is relatively easy, and fun. It’s why so many people do it.

Selling art however is the hard part.

With all the information at our fingers, almost anyone today can be a “successful” artist if they also learn a few basic sales skills, but creative types usually don’t have that type of interest or drive.

Success as an artist means selling your work to support yourself. If you have to keep a day job, or a spouse supports you, you’re more of a dabbler, and that’s fine too, but if you’re serious about being an artist, you have to get serious about the full cycle from creation to selling.

This article is for devoted artists, those committed to creating art fulltime and having their work hang on the walls of others beyond family, friends, and therapy tea klatches.

The definition of a true artist is easier to understand when you compare it to other aspects of life, for example a teaching profession. If you are paid by a certified institution to teach a curriculum, you’re a teacher. If you teach your kid to toss a baseball or cook, well, you’re a parent. Same thing with art.

Statistically, most people today practice art for fun and meditative therapy, and for the calm or stimulation it brings.  A very few occasionally produce something a stranger would pay to display on their large screen TV or wall. Some also pick up a brush or a camera to satisfy a creative addiction. It’s all good, but it doesn’t define or qualify you as an artist.

Giant Joshua Mojave

Consider for a moment that a contemporary art gallery is the prototypical middleman, and similar in some respects to a dating site for lonely artists and skeptical buyers. In reality, one usually doesn’t get married after the first date, just as aspiring artists rarely grace gallery walls. It takes time to form a relationship. Space is reserved for the fulltime and elite artist who already sells his or her work.

Not all galleries are alike. Friendly, and transparent artist-owned studio galleries where artists collaboratively manage the space, and where they work and sell pieces in creative environments is a more welcoming experience for art buyers. 

Artists-owned studio galleries are great places to connect with artists and form long and productive relationships.

We can also buy art at fairs and auction houses, but again these spaces are exclusively reserved for fulltime elite artists in the here and now, or, who have long passed. The cost to buy in is exorbitantly high, however, the quality of art seen in these spaces isn’t always high, as is sometimes demonstrated by art that lacks soul and still sells for mega millions. Perception of beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and especially the beholder who looks at art as an investment.

As the internet blossomed websites presented artists with an opportunity to create one-on-one relationships with buyers similar to the dynamic experienced at artist-owned studio galleries. Progressive artists, especially millennials, embrace the internet and have tremendous success, but in true art therapy style, most still struggle in obscurity and shyly hide their works in their closets.

Social media popped up relatively recently and once again redefined the marketing landscape for artists. Once more, a small group capitalized on it and had incredible success, but most artists missed the opportunity, often incessantly complaining the market had gone flat. It hadn’t though. The art market moved and most artists failed to move with it.

Well here we are one more time; the cosmos, in less than a twenty year span, is offering up yet another incredible opportunity for artists and galleries. It’s a second bona fide paradigm shift in less than two decades greater than anything we’ve ever seen that helps artists not only sell their work, but also protect and make it even more readily available and accessible.

Want to learn about Blockchain & Art … scroll down or click here to keep reading

Contact the author, Maurice Cardinal for more info regarding Blockchain Art

Art Fairs in Vancouver

Art fairs are all the rage around the world, and growing rapidly.

As galleries continue to struggle to maintain their presence and evolve in an ever frenzied social media world, art fairs everywhere fill the growing hole left behind.

For some emerging artists art fairs offer the most effective way to have their work seen in public. Having a great web and social media presence is still critically important, but there is significant value in displaying your work in a space where art buyers can view it up close. Your work  also lives on in the art fairs catalog.

Art! Vancouver is a young and growing fair that gets better every year. It’s still not in the same league as other larger cities that have been doing it for a lot longer, but this year the fair had a great selection of artists and galleries. The diversity in types of art was impressive. The only criticism I heard from a few artists is that they had hoped for more traffic. Some sold work, but they felt they would have sold considerably more with higher traffic, and I have to agree. When I attended it was fairly sparse.

Art fair strategies need to be carefully planned when you consider a booth is in the $2,000 range, and you also need to invest in a substantial portfolio to display, plus there are several miscellaneous costs. At the end of the day a four day show could be amount to $5,000 investment, so it’s important to have a heavy flow of visitors walking by your booth in order to justify the expense.

I had a chance to speak with a few artists who displayed at Art! Vancouver.

Some sold work, like iRMA immediately below, while others were not so fortunate.


I Write, Therefore I Am

People choose to write for all kinds of reasons.

They are naturally drawn to words and to putting their thoughts
on paper in a creative way that flows naturally.

Like any other art form it is a release, a coping mechanism, a dream, a vision, or if you are like me, a calling you can’t give up even if you tried.

As an Expressive Arts Therapist I have seen how engaging in the arts can be transformative in both small and huge ways. Allowing yourself to flow into your imagination and just be wherever you need to go within the arts opens up avenues for self-assessment, which we sometimes can’t discover through other means. The beauty of this is you don’t have to be an artist or writer to do this kind of work.

But what if you are a writer? How does your writing change your life? What purpose in the greater scheme of things does your work have on the world around you? For some people writing is very personal. They write for themselves and it informs them of where they are now or acts as a kind of release, a coping mechanism in hard times. It can be therapeutic. For others it is a vehicle to make political statements, or to try to change the world. For some it is a means to help others to understand a personal situation that they might be going through themselves, such as mental illness, loss, identity crisis and to make a connection. For several it is the pure joy of just being able to express true love and beauty in the world, while for others it is all of these, a form of contemplation, explanation, examination and discovery. It is joy and heartache, revision and work and dedication. No matter where you are coming from, writing has the potential to take a difficult or horrific situation and to find transformative beauty.

For me, my writing is the driving force of my being. I started to write when I was 13. I began writing poetry, and short stories partly, although I did not know it at the time, to survive living with a mother who had mental illness. As I got older I continued to write poetry, but the reasons shifted. I could tell stories in a poetic way using narrative. I loved doing the research and seeing my characters come alive on the page. Like so many starting out their careers I believed I needed to write big – to tell the huge story that would change the world.

Now my poetry means something else to me. I live it every moment. I look at the world around me as a poetic playground. I see everything in metaphor. I get antsy when I can’t write for a while. I no longer look to write those huge themes, to capture the world with overwritten statements or clichés that signify nothing to anyone other than myself. I look instead for the simple important moments. I look to taking the mundane and make them unique. I look at ordinary people and places and always find the poetic in them. For me poetry is everywhere. I search for the beauty in an exchange, the heartache in a word, the wonderment in a story and I see how each of these moments have merit, and need to be shared. My poetry is with me all the time.

When I am writing a particular piece it will be with me long before I ever put pen to page. It is living inside of me taking up space, creating a life of its own, and when it is ready to be born I put these thoughts down on the page. Sometimes they come out complete. Other times I edit, I change, I leave it and come back later, but always it is something that I have lived with for some time in some way, thus I live poetically every moment. I can’t help it. It is how I think, how I breath, and likely will be how I die.

James Hillman describes in his book, ‘The Souls Code, In Search of Character and Calling” – Random House, 1996, that people who create share inexplicable innate drive.

Writing is also my calling, and what I was meant to do. It is what I will do, and engage in, and work on for the rest of my life. It took me years before I would tell people I was a writer. Now I never doubt it. It took years for me to go beyond saying it was “just” poetry. Now I know this is my world, my art, my being. It isn’t just poetry, it is how I breath, it is where I exist. It is my way of looking at the world and understanding the world. It is how I let others know my worldview and maybe help them see the world slightly differently.

Wherever you are in your creative journey is fine. You may do it for the love; you may do it as therapy, but whatever the reason, know why you do it.

Know the kind of dedication it takes to make it your life’s work, your passion, and if you discover you have that kind of drive, keep it alive. It might be enough for you to be a hobby artist, someone who writes for yourself and just for the fun of it. You may use it for therapy to help you get through some difficult times, or, you may dream of publishing one day.

Whatever your reason, you will find the time you need
to fit your way of life. It is how it works.

Dedication is more than saying you are a writer, it is the time and energy and life you choose to lead. It doesn’t work any other way. It just can’t.

__________________ . . . _______________________

Bonnie Nish is Executive Director of Pandora’s Collective Outreach Society.

Bonnie is widely published in places like The Ottawa Arts Review, The Danforth Review, Haunted Waters Press, Illness Crisis & Loss Journal Volume 24 and The Blue Print Review.

Bonnie’s first book of poetry “Love and Bones” was released by Karma Press in 2013.

Bonnie has a Masters in Arts Education from Simon Fraser University and is currently pursuing a PhD in Language and Literacy Education at UBC.

Her most recent book “Concussion and Mild TBI: Not Just Another Headline” is an anthology of concussion related stories, and was published by Lash and Associates in August 2016.

Bonnie is a certified Expressive Arts Therapist with a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies from the Vancouver Expressive Arts Therapy School. She has worked extensively with youth and adults in high-risk situations. Bonnie has conducted writing and expressive arts workshops for over 20 years across North America.


For her contribution to the Vancouver literary community Bonnie was nominated for the 2015 YWCA Women of Distinction Award in Arts, Culture and Design.


Thank you Bonnie for contributing this Guest Blog!
We are always looking for interesting perspectives
from artists, so if you have something to share
please click here to learn how … 

The 2017 War … of Art

The 2017 War … of Art

6 Part Art Series … by Maurice Cardinal … Part 1

Visual artists and their agents have more power today than they have ever had simply because they can now communicate directly with buyers and collectors, and bypass contemporary galleries completely, although in most cases that’s probably not recommended, at least yet.

Buyers and collectors also now have more power for exactly the same reasons.

Contemporary art galleries, which are feverishly scrambling to reinvent their business models, represent an outdated system that is quickly falling out of favor with artists and buyers.

It’s no longer accurate to talk about the art world in generalities, especially in the world of contemporary art where the norm is to move at light speed. If you make a claim that galleries are struggling, it’s important to differentiate between the types of galleries, for example, there is a big difference between legacy galleries that only manage the masters in a blue chip market, and contemporary galleries that promote emerging midline artists. Not all galleries are in trouble. In fact some don’t consider it a struggle at all – more like a blip until they see where the market is going, at which point they adjust.

High end art galleries are experts at controlling art prices by carefully manipulating artists and buyers, but don’t confuse these investment houses with small urban galleries because there is a big difference.

. . . . . .

High end galleries resist social media because it is inherently transparent and exposes too many secrets. The last place you want to be seen when you’re price fixing is on Twitter.

The luxury market strategy works much differently than the common art market, and it’s critical to know the difference.

. . . . . .

It’s also important to realize that a wide range of art viewers are watching online, from experts to neophytes, which means if you want to evolve and expand your market you have to be patient with newcomers and not talk over their heads in art-speak only a person with a degree would understand. In today’s contemporary art world, philosophy and art degrees fall under the “good to have” not need to know category. If your goal is to be a curator of a museum or large gallery a degree is mandatory because that investor-driven group is primarily influenced by provenance and pedigree as opposed to the aesthetics and emotion of art.

In our new world of contemporary art, everyone in the social media sphere is not only watching and asking, but also demanding, including consumers who might not know anything about art, but they know what they like. All of a sudden everyone is an expert and critic, and everyone in our fractured niche world now matters simply because they have a voice. Go ahead, ignore or insult them and see what happens on Facebook and Twitter. You probably won’t like it.

Galleries that promote primarily contemporary artists struggle to reinvent themselves as disruptive strategists circle tighter and tighter. What you thought you knew about promoting, selling, and buying art is rapidly changing.

Emerging artists, especially millennials, embrace technology and social media, while old guard artists struggle to continue to cultivate and manage the traditional networks they created over many decades. They are also obsessively preoccupied with protecting their markets and hesitant to change what has worked for them in the past – transitions are always difficult.

Mature artists have access to the same technology, but are reluctant to use it for a variety of reasons, mostly because it can be confusing, but also because they are concerned about alienating contemporary gallery owners who have also been reluctant to change how they do business. Many mature artists feel intimidated by technology so they do only the bare minimum and hope for the best while they wait for the market to return to its old dynamic. The reality though is that the art market will never return to its hierarchical, gallery-influenced past no matter how much you wish it.

For insight about how the contemporary visual art industry will evolve over the next couple of years a good place to start is the music industry and to look at what happened when MP3 came on the scene over two decades ago. Technical aspects and product format are different for visual art than for music, but the delivery and promotion model share many similarities. Promotion, thankfully, is relatively similar across all art genres, and what works for independent musicians often also works for visual artists.

Art took on an unexpectedly strong political undertone in 2016 when Donald Trump was elected president. Opportunities in this arena grew explosively and seem to be endless.

Asians1000-0550Many artists however resist being politically oriented fearing it will impact corporate sponsorship, commissions, and grants.

For that type of more traditional artist there is no obvious political upside like there is for artists creating work on the fringe with pieces designed to raise consciousness and awareness.

Art plays a key role in what we know of ourselves as a society and is one of the mirrors we peer into every day. It’s not an understatement to say that if it weren’t for artists, we would all be much less informed and poorer for it.

It was almost fifty years ago in the late sixties when artists banded together to promote a collective political ethos, and they did it quite aggressively. Think John Lennon vs. “The Man.” The Peace Movement was driven by musicians, writers, and protest posters.

Artists changed the world in that era until hippies grew up to become bean counters.

In the decades since, governments and corporations have decimated art funding.

When you take art away … all you have left is a blank canvass.

Read Part 2 …


Read  the entire series – The 2017 War … of Art
Part 1     Part 2     Part 3     Part 4     Part 5     Part 6


The 2017 War … of Art

The 2017 War … of Art

6 Part Art Series … by Maurice Cardinal … Part 2

Artists who create works primarily for traditional residential-styled buyers will have an increasingly difficult time finding a market as small contemporary galleries close.

On the other hand though, artists who create unique, whimsical, and unusual pieces designed to stimulate debate and controversy, now have a way, through social media, to connect with buyers and collectors with similar niche interests. If you want to push your artistic vision over the edge now is the time because not only can artists more easily find a market, art buyers too can more easily find artists. Younger emerging artists are exploding in this area, and without doubt their presence will escalate exponentially in 2017.

According to the UK 2016 Hiscox Online Art Trade Report, 46% of millennial art buyers buy online, and 49% are repeat buyers. 57% are female, and 34% overall will invest up to £10,000 each year ($12,000 USD).

In the report millennials identified their
#1 reason for buying art as emotion based.

92% of people buy what they like,

57% of the decision to buy art is weighted towards investment,

44% of the decision was based on reasons regarding status 

39% of the time an art purchase had social significance

The first number, 92%, is huge when you consider that
social media is the perfect tool to cultivate emotion.

Whether you are an artist or a gallerist, if you know how to develop an ecommerce web presence that entices and properly leads to a purchase decision, the odds increase greatly that once you have an art buyer’s interest, they will make a spontaneous decision to buy.


. . . . . .

The problem today is that “most” of the third party gallery ecomm sites look like a Sears catalog.

. . . . . .

It takes specialised skills to build an ecomm site that incorporates an effective sales strategy leading to a purchase decision. Templates don’t work. It needs a personal touch. Even though it is a large corporation,  Amazon does it masterfully, but the art world is still lagging far behind in this respect, by about twenty years.

That being said, the art world is also still in an early adopter stage, which means that if this dynamic even remotely mirrors what happened in the book and music businesses twenty years ago, and there is no reason or indication it won’t, it will only be a a very short time before this trend will also move across to the older Gen X and Boomer demographics.

As this trend grows, galleries will increasingly struggle until they either get onboard and embrace online promotion and sales in a more professional way, or they will disappear just like record and book stores did in the last decade. Many galleries in 2016 do have some type of online presence, but most are amateurish, which actually hurts them more than it helps because it undermines their hard won reputation for quality.

Artist websites can afford to look bohemian, in fact they should,
but for gallery sites shabby chic is the kiss of death.

If you’re an artist who thinks promotion is a dirty word you’re going to be pushed even further into the shadows. If you also think your art will sell itself, you’re living in a past world that existed only as an anomaly. Until an artist has an established and solid reputation, art rarely sells itself. It’s what contemporary galleries and agents are for, except now that galleries are struggling, with many trimming their artist rosters, staff, and promotional budgets, it is having a direct and deleterious effect on artists.

Many contemporary art galleries, just like newspapers, ignored the signs for years thinking the internet wouldn’t impact their business. Contemporary art galleries are now closing faster than acrylic paint dries in the sun.

As a result, artists, emerging artists especially,
are well advised to become expert self-promoters.

Contemporary art galleries aren’t closing only because of what social media is doing, at least not in a big of way. Galleries are struggling because they are failing to meet the needs of buyers and collectors who also have had to tighten belts due to the recession and globalization. As galleries continue to weaken, it allows social media more of a toehold until the momentum becomes exponential and the paradigm flips.

Old guard artists will be able to grandparent out as long as they remain a bit flexible, but as galleries reinvent themselves, with many even closing, mature contemporary artists will eventually have very few bricks and mortar places to exhibit their work . It takes time and expertise to develop social media skills, so if artists don’t prepare now they will eventually run out of options. The good news though is that social media promotion is not hard to learn when you take incremental steps. The IAD offers programs, as do other art groups.

Successful artists today invest as much or more time promoting and marketing their work as they do creating it. If you are fortunate enough to have an agent they can contribute significantly to the promotional workload, but artists also have to contribute in a variety of meaningful ways.



To put a new twist
on an old saying,

Trump’s hair won’t comb itself
and neither will art sell itself.

Artists need to be out there in some form or another virtually networking and promoting to increase their visibility and credibility in the artistic community.

For years writers have been expected by publishers to help with promotion, i.e. book signings, social media sites, mainstream interviews, etc. Today, a solid social media strategy is also one of the promotional tools a publisher expects an artist to use effectively.

Artists who create primarily for their own satisfaction are hobby artists, similar to artisans and crafters. Hundreds of thousands of hobby artists are, relatively speaking, pretty good at creating art, but it’s as far as they ever get. They don’t have any real interest in displaying or selling their art because it presents too much of a risk financially and emotionally – it hurts to be rejected. They usually have an adequate job that pays the rent and allows for basic comforts like a new car every now and then, and of course a vacation or two every year. They create when they have time, but they lack dedicated inspiration and don’t really know how the art market works, even though they think they do. No one in the art industry takes them seriously because they don’t take themselves seriously.

Hobby artists often also have the perfect studio space, and all the gear, except they need just one more gadget to complete their toolbox so they can then create their masterpiece. Thomas Moore wrote at length about artists like this in his well respected book, Care of the Soul. If I’ve described you in the paragraph above, this book is highly recommended.

This 6 Part Series of articles is not for hobby artists. It’s for artists who want to create full time and who will die trying. They might still have a day job, but they work every day towards becoming a fulltime artist and living the dream. More importantly, they take all the right steps towards their goal, and they have a timeline with a series of events they meet. If they do have a day job, it is often in an arts-related field, so that at least every day they are immersed in creativity in some capacity.

I think what irks full time artists the most about hobby artists is that hobby artists often complain that they can’t sell their work because the market isn’t very good right now. The reality though is that the market, except for recession type anomalies, is actually pretty good for artists who work at “selling” their art. As long as you keep abreast of changing buyer interests, and marketing and promotion strategies, it’s not that hard to find someone to buy your art if it is well produced and unique. The key to sales is it has to be unique. In sales terms it means your art must have a differentiating factor, whether it is subject matter or technique. Gallerists sometimes like to pretend there is some type of magic involved in art sales. As you’ll see throughout this series, there is no voodoo. It’s all about human behavior and sales technique, and it’s not hard to learn. Similar psychological techniques that work for car, house, and vintage wine sales, work for art.


Read Part 3 …

Read  the entire series – The 2017 War … of Art
Part 1     
Part 2     Part 3     Part 4     Part 5     Part 6