Making Money From Art & Literature – Online

Is it possible to make money from art & literature online?

If you’re an artist, do you know who’s developing and presenting contemporary art & literature?

If you’re a online cultural organisation, do you know who your key competitors are?

By looking at Alexa, Best of the Web, and other sites – as well as from our own perspective – we’ve picked out five key sites bridging the gap between capitalism and contemporary art & design.

These are sites that use socialised internet tools like tagging, comments, and blogging; sites that are wholly or predominantly based around the development and publication of contemporary art and literature; and sites that are developing and presenting new work. Above all these are sites that are making a living either directly or tangentially through their activities.

We Make Money Not Art

The name says it all – headed by Régine Debatty, this blog started in 2004 to investigate ‘how often companies that develop and manufacture technologies actually meet the hackers and artists who have a more playful or activist approach to them. Do these two different worlds collide? If yes, how does it happen? If no, why not? Would it make any sense to try to change that non-communicative situation?’.

One of the most linked-to blogs, with an Alexa rating of 34,431, over 30% of its audience in the US and a regularly updated list of contributors, the site doesn’t actually generate revenues as a direct result of its advertising but rather via Debatty’s fees from writing and speaking.

Ad!dict

Based in Belgium, members collaborate on themed projects & share work via online profiles. Divided into a number of different areas – the addictlab, for example, allowing more experimental interaction – there is tremendous potential here to get involved in a wide range of new projects, either based on the themes or through interaction with other users.

This is one site that has spread its net wide in terms of a business model, supplementing revenue from retail of books and magazines with cultural funding, contextual advertising and business partnerships. However, with a net presence that seems to have been around since before the first bubble, there’s no question that this is a powerful force.

Stereo Publication

This is one organisation that falls down more on the design side than the pure art side – an on and offline magazine, they make their money through retail sales and luxury editions of their high-quality magazine.

A little like We Make Money …, Stereo claim not to be making money out of this activity – they say they are a non-profit organisation who are setting out to design new ways of developing magazines that are more creative. By including an online work-in-progress section for developing new projects, the processes are more visible – a low Alexa score does nothing to harm the fortunes of the group, who continue to turn out new work on a timely basis.

Born Magazine

Born have been around forever, and provide consistently high-quality content as well as some offline events. Their focus is art and literature, leaning towards new media.

This is where we see a quite different model – Born is financed through sponsors and through donations. This is a more organic, cultural model – and again, shows that with low overheads it’s possible to have a long-running art and literature magazine.

Magwerk

Finally, having moved right to the other end of the spectrum from We Make Money …, Magwerk are as close as you can get to a traditional publisher. Publishing a suite of lifestyle magazines including art and design, fashion, and music, these magazines are published as if they were physical, employing the kind of page-turning design you can now get for free on Formatpixel.

It may no longer be innovative – but it’s certainly making money. With full-page adverts from high-quality luxury goods companies, solid business partnerships and sponsorship, Magwerk are definitely a force to be reckoned with.

Summary

We asked if it was possible to make money from art and literature online. These five organisations show that not only is it possible – they make it look easy!