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About quality, prices… and signatures

An explanation of some of the thoughts and practices behind the Katharsisdrill webshop.

When I began posting creative commons art on the Katharsisdrill page on the Danish Diaspora instance, datataffel.dk almost six years ago, money didn’t play any role at all. The whole thing was as light as a feather and nonchalantly giving things away is (according to my wife) one of the things I do best. But after some time the project had grown more serious and so had the efforts. I was again back to being an artist in need of some sort of balance between real life expenses and the blissful, unworldly escapism of creating interesting things. So I set up a Patreon account, a Liberapay account, a Kofi account, started to post on Steemit and wrote my cryptocoin addresses everywhere.

Now I have made a webshop.

Katharsisdrill working

Katharsisdrill, the art grocer

The decision to add a web shop comes from the fact that I now have a printed version of Phill from GCHQ for which I need an outlet, but also from two things I have learned from this whole process:

  1. Donating money is slightly counter-intuitive to most people (and btw: many thank to the people who have donated!)
  2. A signature means more than you would think.

None of this ought to be any surprise to me as I as a young professional grew up in the fine art world and had to learn about the ways of the dodgy art trade from painful experience. Humans like beautiful things, but they have so many other considerations when buying art: status, the fear of being cheated, social conventions and economy – not least the concept of scarcity. And even though I never shared many of these considerations I understand them fully and think that they are perfectly reasonable. The thing with this project is that the goods/art actually is available for free, making the contrast somewhat bigger.

Principles for the webshop

So in this light how do I intend to run the webshop?

First of all I intend to only have high quality products. I never really had any joy in cheap consumerism and as I through the years have learned that I should never go against my intuition I will leave the cheap junk for others to sell. With time I expect to have both limited handmade editions and unique artworks for sale.

This of course means that prices will be in the high end (on top of this Scandinavia, where Katharsisdrill is based, already is one of the most expensive and highly taxed regions in the world). If you simply can’t afford to buy signed artworks, remember that the project is available for free also. I am equally happy if people make a laser print themselves or if they buy a signed print on fine paper. But the latter helps me to find the time making more free culture art.

Which brings me to the signature, the main product in the webshop.

The signature

If you think I charge rather a lot for the Katharsisdrill signature, you are right. There are of course still expenses from making prints and books that need to be covered, but the addition of the signature will increase the price by a fair margin, and that is because the signature is the only thing that makes what I sell different from what you can download. Charging a high price for a signature have the double function to make it possible to symbolically support Katharsisdrill art production while still receiving something in return, and at the same time make the signature rare enough to give it more value through scarcity, improving its worth in the eyes of men and woman. In this there in no difference from what is normal practice in the fine art business. Still… with Katharsisdrill artworks even people with no money can get to have a good quality print. Without a signature that is.

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