Blockchain for arts and artists: how to use it

Blockchain for arts and artists: how to use it

Blockchain is one of the emerging technologies and is considered to be the one of the key drivers of the next industrial revolution.

Blockchain technology and cryptocurrency are used by leaders in technology, finance and humanitarian aid because of its decentralized ledger. Like other industries, the art market is getting revolutionized by the blockchain technology. It is introducing new ways of buying, selling and owning an art work. The blockchain technology is not only helpful in thwarting fraud and replication of art work, it is also being considered for tax evasion. It is supposed to reduce friction during the auction process that is also a potential benefit of blockchain in art market.

Potential Users of Blockchain

There are three potential users of blockchain technology. They are:

  • The artists who want to have the authorship of their work of art.

  • The Art acquirer or collector who wants to invest in the work of art that is authentic.

  • The Auction Houses that are concerned for long term data security and transparency and provenance of the work of art.

In order to understand how blockchain technology in the world of art is different from traditional method, one needs to understand the pain points of the users. Let’s consider the above-mentioned user types.

  1. Artists

In the digital age, quite a number of artists are producing computerized or digital art. This type of art sometimes does not have any type of physical presence. Due to this one of the main concerns that arises is that the digital work of art can be reproduced or replicated without the permission and knowledge of the artists and likewise it can be distributed. The artists do not have any proof of ownership.

  1. Art Acquirer

Art acquirers usually invest large amounts of money to acquire an art work. Since forgeries are common in art world, it is hard for art acquirers to investigate the authenticity and genuineness of the work of art before they pay the price.

  1. Auction House

The auction houses need to keep records of the art work description and price. They also have to monitor the provenance of the art work for buying or selling. For this case they face a problem similar to the art acquirer to authenticate the legitimacy and genuineness of the work of art that it is not replicated or altered and is not a forgery.

The Uses of Blockchain technology in the art market

Democratization of the Art Investment

The art market is considered as the one where usually very rich people invest. However, artworks are getting tokenized allowing art lovers and shrewd investors to buy the art work in segments. This is allowing more people to buy and sell the work of art including those who do not have large amounts of money to buy the whole work at once. These micropayments through the blockchain smart contracts are allowing more people to invest in a work of art that might potentially raise the price of the art work. This allow offers more investors or art lovers to buy a painting or art work with this democratized system with the hope that the value of the art work will increase.

Decentralization of Art Exchanges

Auction houses have started to sell the art works online. In the meantime, blockchain is allowing the decentralized art marketplaces to rise and increase legitimacy of online platforms selling art. This way the auction houses need not to have a physical collection of art works rather they might not need any physical space at all. This saves the overhead related to maintaining a physical art gallery and looking for authentication and provenance of the work of art in trade.

Monetization of Digital Art

The platforms that are based on blockchain offer the artists the feasibility of selling their work of art after getting a blueprint of their digital work. This means that any form of art work whether it’s a video, illustration, graphic or typography it can be monetized through blockchain platforms. Artists get a commission when the buyers pay the price for their art work. Artists can also increase the number of people see their content.

Crypto Collectibles



These are a special type of cryptocurrencies, which are unique and intangible digital assets. Each collectible crypto is in limited quantities, and each token is unique (unlike cryptocurrencies, which require tokens that are all the same). These are used to buy, sell or exchange works of art. They are “digital works of art” created with the blockchain.

An example? CryptoKitties, based on Ethereum. As the authors themselves describe it, it “is a game centered around breedable, collectible, and oh-so-adorable creatures we call CryptoKitties! Each cat is one-of-a-kind and 100% owned by you; it cannot be replicated, taken away, or destroyed”.

Collectibles 2.0?

Scarcity of Digital Art

Crypto collectibles with their unique identifiers do not allow replication of art. This is a reason why digital art, in spite of being on internet is not replicated and remains scarce. This ensures that the art is one of a kind which provides security to the digital art and makes it more popular.

Authentication and Provenance of Ownership of Artwork

Authentication describes the correct authorship of the artwork while the provenance describes the chain of ownership. Artworks are authenticated based on certificate of authenticity, scientific analysis to personal expertise but this type of authentication can be contested. The blockchain records work as a seal of approval and a s a trusted library of the art works.

Fair Blockchain Auction Houses

Auction houses are concerned with selling or buying the works of art. Meanwhile they need to authenticate the artwork and its provenance before buying it. Auction houses may make error in authenticating an artwork if it is replicated very well. Therefore, when auction houses store their sales and ownership records on a blockchain ledger, it secures their sales data and augments their provenance systems.


The journey of an artwork can be traced through the blockchain distributed ledger, from its creation to the current owner. This allows tracing the life cycle of an artwork and saves from ‘fragile documentation’.

Digital Assets

Investors have started considering art works as digital assets with the emergence of blockchain based platforms for artworks. They can buy digital assets using cryptocurrencies. They can also buy the artwork from one marketplace, and sell it to the other.

Art market vs Stock market

Art market vs Stock market

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The Art market or the Stock market? Arts are under-estimated assets, and the art market is quite under-reported. However, investing in art presents investors with several benefits. In fact, the art market might be comparatively better than the stock market.


When people talk about investing, they talk about asset classes. They then give examples of items such as stocks, bonds, real estate, cryptocurrencies, and a host of others. However, these are not all there are to investing. And there are a lot of other, potentially more rewarding, options.

Most likely, you do not know about the market for creative works. And even if you do, there are chances that the only idea you may have about it is that of a billionaire purchasing another of Picasso’s legacy works. But the market is much richer, more exciting, and more rewarding than you may think.

In fact, you may be shocked that it may even be better than the stock market for investing. Here, we will introduce you to the world of the art market, comparing it to the famed stock market.

The Stock marketpuppet with money

The stock market needs no introduction. However, we cannot assume, so let us give an overview.

What exactly is a Stock?

Let us start with the scenario of a typical computer science grad who lands a software developer job at a big firm. Soon, he notices market demand for a particular software service and decides to fix it. Not only that, he is fed up with everything – the pay, the bureaucracy, the lack of career growth, amongst other things.

So, he decides to set up his own startup. In the beginning, he wholly owns his business. However, as the business grows, he needs more capital to fund expansion – capital that cannot be generated from the business operations alone. So he has to seek it from outside, from others.

He meets a group of persons who want to commit funds. In return, he gives bits of his ownership of the company to each of the persons according to the amount of capital contributed by each of them. These bits of ownership are known as shares. A group of these shares in a particular company is called a stock.

Then the business grows big and, in search of even much more capital, subsequently lists on a stock exchange. Now, the general public can purchase shares in the company. Also, members of the public can sell the shares between one another. The place where this buying and selling occurs is the stock market.

In essence, when you purchase stocks in a company, you are purchasing ownership in that company. And that comes with some perks.

Benefits of Investing in Stocks

By far, stocks are the most popular assets in the world – in fact, more popular than real estate. Thus, the stock market is the most popular asset market. This is so because of several reasons, which include:


Liquidity in finance and investing terms refers to an asset’s ability to be bought or sold easily. A (highly) liquid asset is one which market participants can buy and sell without causing much change in its price.

The stock market is very liquid. A person looking to purchase stocks can do so relatively easily and fast without any price changes. Likewise, sellers will always find buyers. However, that is not the case with many other asset classes.

This liquidity of the stock market also makes it volatile. The price of stocks can move quite fast over a short time.

Easy to invest

Another benefit you get from investing in stocks is that it is relatively easy. In the past, you could only trade stocks by calling a broker and placing orders. However, with technological advancement, you can now purchase stocks from mobile apps in minutes. This is against many other asset classes for which you need to undergo rigorous processes before you can invest.

Capital Appreciation

The stock market can deliver dramatic capital appreciation. We have seen certain stocks give high returns in hundreds of percentages within a few months. This is one of the reasons many investors go for stocks. However, we must note that the dramatic returns in the hundreds of percentages are quite untypical and not so common.


Let us recall that a stock symbolises ownership in a company. As an ‘owner’ of a company, you are entitled to a part of its income, depending on the value and number of shares you own. This is known as dividend. So long you have not divested your stake in the stock, you will continue to earn from time to time.

However, not all companies pay dividends.

Voting Rights

When you own shares in a company, you enjoy the right to have a say in its affairs. This is especially true of crucial company decisions. However, again, not all types of stocks give the right to vote and participate in decision-making.

Downsides to Investing in Stocks

Having discussed the benefits of investing in stocks, we should also mention its potential downsides. By far, the biggest downside with stock investing is the potential for losses. Just as stocks can deliver good capital appreciation so can the reverse also be the case. In fact, there have been cases where stocks have experienced rapid drops in just a single day of trading.

Another is that stocks and the stock market are susceptible to market manipulations and fraud. Here, certain entities can engage in practices via which they profit at the expense of the market.

paintThe Art market

Well, here we are. The art market is the place for the purchase and sale of works of art. In this market, you get to buy and sell commodities and services relating to art. Its participants include artists, art collectors, as well as investors – both large and small. The art market is worth over $70 billion and is growing at an average of 8% year-on-year.

This market has a lot of potentials, a lot of which you probably have not discovered.

Benefits of Investing in the Art Market

Investing in art has many benefits. Some are outlined below:

Steady, consistent returns

Art has been known to deliver sure returns year after year. Figures put the annual average returns at 9%. Blue-chip art prices have increased by over 1,000% in the past 25 years. Well, you may say, “The S&P has returned more than that.” However, you know those years also include years of losses? Would you instead invest in something that delivers steady, sure returns every year, or in that which is highly uncertain?

No market fluctuations

While the stock market’s liquidity might seem like a huge benefit, and rightly so, it can also be a massive downside. Prices fluctuate wildly. However, with artworks, you do not have those wild fluctuations.

Tangible Asset

Okay, you invest in stocks and bonds or mutual funds. These are investments that you necessarily do not have control over. However, with artwork, you have maximum control over what you invest and are fully responsible for it, rather than potentially losing it to market manipulations.

Ability to “Enjoy” your Investment

As an investor in art, you are first a collector before an investor. When you get to invest in art, you get to display and enjoy the aesthetic and symbolic value of your “investment.” We do not think there is any way you can do the same for stocks or bonds.

Intrinsic Value and Value Preservation

Artworks have objective and intrinsic values, unlike assets such as stocks and bonds, whose values only increase or decrease based on the prevailing buying or selling activity level. It is often the bandwagon effect that makes people rush into the stock market without any real reasons. However, you don’t have this with arts whose values are usually objectively determined.


Since artwork prices rarely go down, they can serve as buffers, and a means for you to diversify your investment portfolio.

Myths around Investing in Art

You may ask: if the art market has so many benefits, why is it not popular? Well, that is because so many myths still surround investing in it.

Investing in Art is expensive

Not all art pieces are expensive, and the fact that “small” investors are now flocking into the art market should be a pointer to this fact. Nevertheless, with technological advancement, it is now possible to invest in art units rather than whole art items. Well, you may also purchase “stocks” in artworks.

That is, if the artwork is expensive, you can contribute just a part of the cost to be an owner. One of the organisations making this possible is Masterworks.

There is not so much activity

Well, people are wrong on this too. Do you know that the market consistently does over 35 million transactions every year?

Not liquid

While you may not expect the same level of liquidity as you find with stocks and bonds, artworks are much more liquid than you may think. You can make purchases quite easily on many online auction and display sites.

Difficult to invest

Technology is fast making it easy to invest in artworks. So, this myth may not stand anymore. Arts are quickly becoming an asset class to reckon with, and as with every asset, the earliest participants often tend to take the biggest chunk of the pie.

Thus, it will be great for you to get into arts – and to get in, now.

The evolution of art promotion over time

The evolution of art promotion over time

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The promotion strategies of artists have changed considerably throughout history. The marketing of culture has a particularity that other fields do not have, so there is a classification of its own. Unlike any other activity, in art, works are not products, the price is not value. The value of art is measured from different factors, such as symbolic, spiritual, social, aesthetic, and historical values. For this reason, promotion and marketing have been developed from a romantic viewpoint. This approach implies that strategies cannot be applied during artistic production because they run the risk of contributing to its trivialization just to reach a larger audience.

Renaissance: when it all began

From the beginning, promotion is an essential tool to increase the artist’s benefits, not only to receive recognition. Culture has been profoundly transformed and so have the debates about its relationship to the market. To understand its evolution we must go back to the Renaissance, the time when art became art, and when artists became artists.

During this stage, the Church ceased to be the only or main avenue of cultural promotion in the West, and the civil sectors took on a leading role in artistic-cultural production, promotion, and protection of the arts and sciences. After the Middle Ages, a dark period in which knowledge was reserved to a few, the Renaissance tried to recover part of the studies and arts that had been so important during the classical period. Just as the ideal man who knows all sciences appeared, so did the ideal art.

Art market

Italy: the XVI Century’s Art Capital​


Florence, Italy

Italy was the great capital of art in the 16th century. In different Italian cities, some of the best artists of the time would meet. An important part of this cultural splendor is due to the existence of patrons: wealthy people who invested part of their riches in art. This is how patronage was born, the practice of promoting art, and protecting artists. The people who acted as “protectors” were called patrons and it could be said that the Renaissance was their doing. The term “patron” comes from Gaius Cilnius Maecenas, an Etruscan Roman nobleman of the first century B.C. who stood out as a passionate promoter of the arts and literature. He was, in fact, a friend of Horace and Virgil.

Medici sculptureThe birth of Patronage​

A patron was characterized by a close relationship with artists, often sharing friendship or helping them financially to grow. Among the most important of the Renaissance was the Medici family, the Uffizi family, the Gonzagas, the Sforzas, the Borgias, the D’Este, among others. Patrons often appeared in the artistic works they promoted. This was unacceptable in medieval times.

Durand-Ruel portrait by Renoir

Durand-Ruel portrait by Renoir

Patronage had another fundamental moment as a means of promotion during Impressionism. Paul Durand-Ruel was the collector and patron responsible for promoting this movement by supporting artists financially and helping them to exhibit when they were rejected from all sides. He managed to sell more than a thousand of Monet‘s paintings and even gave him a place to live and work under better conditions when the artist was bankrupt. Ruel was immediately seduced by the spontaneity, energy, and freshness of the new painters’ collective. In 1872 he discovered two of Edouard Manet’s works in another artist’s Parisian studio and bought them instantly. He then went to the author’s own studio and bought everything he saw hanging there. Ruel dared to insert the impressionist works in a rented gallery and this was the first step of years to place the paintings on the market and to make his artists known.

“In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes”​

Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol

Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol

However, the figure of the patron was decaying at the beginning of the 20th century. Art suffered a great revolution against the institutions and all the conventions. The artists began to manage on their own, or at least, more involved with the market influencing then the avant-garde of half a century. This is the case of the extravagant Andy Warhol, the artist who transformed art into a business. “In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes,” Warhol said, and he turned out to be a true visionary. Today, social networks allow us to star during those minutes and even more. He was an innovator who demystified the concept of the artist as a difficult profession that required hard years of training and improvement. He transformed it into a mere business whose only merit lay in being a celebrity and making money.

Exploit those who are already famous​

His strategy was simple: in his series inspired by Campbell’s cans, the artist used one of the most popular brands to draw attention to his art. Although they didn’t have business relationships at first, after the can exhibit scandal and the exposure he got, Campbell started a feedback partnership to push his products. This helped launch Warhol’s career when no one knew his name. Since then, pop art has been characterized by the use of mass media images. In his works you can see the complicity that existed between him and advertising, making a creative style and becoming an icon of contemporary art. In turn, The Factory, his studio, promoted the work of new talents such as Jean-Michel Basquiat or the music group The Velvet Underground.

Is marketing more important than art?​

Nowadays, marketing takes over contemporary art. The actions of Banksy or Damien Hirst generate more impact than their works. The economist Don Thompson has spent years and several books trying to decipher the mechanisms that articulate the art world. And he has two things clear: the importance of marketing and how fundamental it is to become a brand: whether you are an art dealer, a gallery owner, an auction house, or an artist. With the sum of both things, brand and marketing, the market is built. Or at least that of contemporary art in its highest range.

Love of God by Damien Hirst

Love of God by Damien Hirst

One of the most unusual strategies is used by Hirst. His skull encrusted with diamonds is the most accomplished work by a living artist and one that got press since before its creation.

But the most surprising thing is that the buyer is part of an investment group that included, as was later revealed, Hirst himself, his manager, and his gallery owner. The purchase was a brand operation to keep the artist in the limelight. It is not in vain that Hirst is the king of marketing, as he is talked about all the time and sells his works like hot cakes, boasting that he does not know how to paint and that he has a workshop that creates them. When art stops being figurative and starts being conceptual and abstract, a gap is created between the art world and society that makes people not understand Damien Hirst’s value when he puts a shark in formaldehyde.

A new era of “collective” patronage​

The figure of the patron has traditionally been present in the art world. It is a tradition that is still alive centuries after the hand of philanthropy, that is to say, very rich people who invest part of their wealth in researching and promoting projects in the fields of culture, science, medicine, or social welfare. Bill and Melinda Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, or Amancio Ortega are examples of billionaires who make donations to create cultural projects, improve education, defend the environment, and promote scientific research, among others. However, nowadays patronage is not only for billionaires but also for cultural institutions and calls.

crowdfundingThe digital era has rescued and rewritten the concept of patronage with the introduction of crowdfunding systems to the general public. New financing models that recycle the classic figure of the patron and opt to multiply it by allowing, and above all encouraging, the participation of several individuals in the funding of the work. This type of financing has managed, thanks to its massive nature, to reduce the amount of capital needed per person for a given company to be successful. The artists’ proposals, supported by this affordable subsidy, began to interest the most humble investors, those who had never dared to invest and managed to create a new generation of producers who are dedicated to laying the groundwork for authors to build their projects. This favors the distillation of the contemporary artist: the creator chooses to produce an uncontaminated work for a certain group of patrons instead of trying to massify it and abide by modifications that aim at the most shamelessly commercial factor. The sponsor is renounced and the true traditional patron is held on to.

Light bulb

There is still room for creativity​

At the same time, modern patrons focus on artists who are innovative, creative, or brilliant in their field. All of this ended up reshaping the artist’s silhouette, making him the main axis instead of a mere appendage to another chain of production, recovering the perception that his importance has always been more cultural than business. An example of a modern patron is “ACCIONA” which, as an associated company of SUR Escuela de Profesiones Artísticas, proposes to focus on the future by promoting opportunities for new generations of artists. On the one hand, offering ten scholarships a year but also organizing the ACCIONA chair, an annual cycle of masterclasses that serve as a hotbed of references for an academic program that has some point in common with the idea of the Renaissance virtuous student: those in charge consider that the artist should receive a multidisciplinary formation instead of initially specializing in one field, and that is why during the learning process students are faced with several arts at the same time.

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the street from this way of understanding cultural heritage, the insistence on disguising the advertising issue as art continues. For example, in 2012 Beyoncé reached an agreement whereby a soft drink company would blindly finance the singer with fifty million dollars for her productions and some media pointed out that this could be a kind of modern patronage. Perhaps it is necessary to re-educate oneself in the concept of the artist and to target those who really have something to say.

The democratization of art

Contemporary art implies a radical change in the relationship between the artist and the public. This stage also means that there is a democratization of art since the collections are not only owned by millionaires or monarchs but also by public museums. The French Revolution caused the decline of the aristocracy although even until the 20th century many monarchs were important patrons. Such is the case of Napoleon, protector of Jacques-Louis David, Louis Philippe I of France by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Frederick William IV of Prussia by Caspar David Friedrich, Ludwig II of Bavaria by Richard Wagner, among others. But today entrepreneurs dominate the new contemporary patronage such as Rothschild, Guggenheim, Thyssen, Ludwig, Rockefeller, Gulbenkian, etc. Through the new galleries, art has a better diffusion and access to a public that grows day by day influenced by its presence in social networks, a massive tool with low advertising costs.

The importance of living in the real world – Leaving the Cave

The importance of living in the real world – Leaving the Cave

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Charlie Brooker

Charlie Brooker, from Wikipedia

In December of 2011, Charlie Brooker gifted the world with the shocking, merciless and incredible first episode of his series Black Mirror. The premise of the show is simple: the narratives are centered “on obscure and satirical themes that examine modern society, particularly regarding the unforeseen consequences of new technologies” (available in:

We get distracted by medias

The first chapter, entitled National Anthem, present us the story of an artist who kidnaps Princess Susannah, a member of the British royal family. As a price for her freedom, the kidnapper requires the country’s Prime Minister to have sex with a pig on live television, otherwise he will kill her. It’s only a matter of hours and the news is already running the world; and any and all people, in all four corners of the globe, feel entitled to give their opinion and judge about what the Prime Minister should do (through social networks, television news, bar tables…).

Netflix LogoHowever, before the act starts, exactly 30 minutes before, and with the broadcast already taking place on televisions and screens around the world – and with all the spectators collectively holding their breath in the agonizing wait for what would happen before their eyes – the artist/kidnapper releases the princess in a completely empty London, precisely because “he knew everyone would be elsewhere, watching screens” (Black Mirror. Season 01, Episode 01. Available on:

Brutally, Brooker rubs in the viewer’s face the absurd power that technology has in influencing daily and political decisions, regardless of borders and seas – in the episode described, the main technology is television and its power over other medias and over the population. Today, nine years later, at a time when everyone lives buried on their individual screens, National Anthem is considered obsolete and aggressive without need… People still don’t see the princess being released.

Plato's allegory of the cave by Jan Saenredam

The world needs freedom. Always.

In 385-380 BC, Plato, in his Republic, gifted humanity with the Cave Myth – where he shows us the need to leave the cave and break free in order to stop seeing only shadows and get to know and see the reality. The similarities between Plato’s and Brooker’s discourse are undeniable. It’s even more undeniable how much both speeches perfectly describe our contemporary reality: we are the fruits that resulted of generations and genera-tions of absurd technological advances. n a matter of 50 years, the paraphernalia and gadgets that seemed to exist only in sci-fi films have gained shape and popularity (everybody wants to have the most advanced phone of the brand judged to be the best in technology).

Back to the futureBack to the Future may have gotten the year wrong but we already have flying cars designs and Tony Hawk has already tested the first prototype of the Hoverboard, Marty McFly’s floating skateboard (available on:

And yet, Brooker believes his stories are not “warnings. Technological progress is completely inevitable. We think more about the human characters. They’re not societal warnings. And I think we’re quite optimistic” (Available on:

In fact, as the seasons of the show kept going, the episodes became more and more optimistic in the narratives and their conclusions (with the brilliant exception of the interactive BandersnatchAvailable on:

However, this effect is also something that the TV program itself had predicted and demonstrated, in the episodes prior to its acquisition by the multi-billion dollar Netflix: that the public that only sees the shadows cannot take it well when reality inevitably imposes itself and hits him like a fist in the pit of the stomach. And it is exactly in this duality that we find ourselves today.

Contemporary society, even though it is the most technologically advanced (at least, of which we are aware so far) just like in Plato’s cave or Brooker’s National Anthem (and despite the countless warnings we had through the films, books, myths and serials that proceeded us) still keep their eyes increasingly distant from the liberation of the princess and increasingly fixed in the shadows of reality transmitted by the different individual and collective screens (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, iPhone, tablets, computer screens, televisions, home theaters, the examples are endless).

An amazing project that portrays delicately and in an especial way the feelings of the contemporary society that insists on seeing only the shadows is Upload, by the giant Amazon Prime (Available on:

With a lighter tone, acid humor and without the punch in the stomach that artistic works cause when they approach this thematic universe, Upload delivers into the hands of the spectators the importance of leaving the cave and seeing what actually produces all the shadows.

Virtual relationship

Why do we prefer virtual relationships?

But while we don’t leave the cave, we keep on giving preference to virtual relationships, to digital influencers with their personalities and physical characteristics and narratives created and photoshopped; we keep creating more and more gadgets to make the virtual experience more personal and more intimate (virtual reality glasses, websites like and apps like Tinder can be used as examples) but without real contact between the parts involved. And where is the fun in that?

Yuval Harari, from Flickr

We prefer to spend hours chatting by WhatsApp than by voice call, by phone, or live, face to face. I have an anecdote from a great digital influencer friend who once went to dinner with her family at a restaurant; they sat at a small table and spent all dinner talking through the said application or instead of looking each other in the eye and talking there, in the now, in reality. How sad – or normal – that sounds to you?

It is obvious that we cannot belittle all the infinite stupendous, immense and wonderful things that technology carries and brings in itself… But we must realize and understand that big things also form immense shadows.

And if, in the middle of this rough sea, in fact, homo sapiens creates a super homo sapiens, just as Yuval Harari predicts, we already know from the same books and myths and movies and tv shows that we will never stop being homo sapiens in our quintessence – with all our feelings and thoughts and sensations -, so, the question that hangs in front of this whole scenario is exactly this: what if when the princess finally breaks free from the cave, everyone is still elsewhere, watching screens?

Entrepreneurship is important for artists to make money

Entrepreneurship is important for artists to make money

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There is a belief that we have carried intrinsically to our society for centuries: the artist has to go through hunger and need and suffering to be an artist. Well, at least to be a good artist. After all, how can he make a real Art, an Art that moves and transforms the viewer, if he doesn’t pass a certain difficulty in life?

This belief, crazy but real, it never had scientific foundations. But artists have always had to “get by” in order to produce and transmit their works. For a long time there were prejudices against artists considered “professionals”. Both from colleagues who did not achieve the desired fame or recognition, and from all sides of society.

Several people from different backgrounds believe that the artistic work is a little lower in the professional hierarchy. In addition, it is very common to hear doctors, professors, critics, fans and even other artists, also call those successful artists “false artists” or accuse them of selling themselves out.

The importance of having an entrepreneurial soul

José Mojica Marins

José Mojica Marins

However, luckily, it has been shown for artists the importance of having an entrepreneurial soul. Because, in reality, we all want recognition and success in our professional areas. And there is no reason to be ashamed of it.

Throughout the course of history, artists had to be entrepreneurs to produce and perpetuate their art. It is possible to say that one of the most successful examples in history was Shakespeare; the English playwright had his theatrical company, where he produced the plays he really wanted, with the profit obtained from sales with the plays ordered by royalty.

José Mojica Marins

Another strong and more recent example is the Brazilian filmmaker José Mojica Marins. In his long career – which started at the age of 12 – the artist has more than 30 films made. The director, producer, actor and, above all, Brazilian entrepreneur Mojica (died in February 2020 at the age of 84), had to be creative and improvise a lot to achieve the desired effects and scares in his works.

I never took money from the government to finance my productions. […] I never had a direct sponsor. […]

About the material to make, I got the leftover film rolls from other productions – 10 meters, 15, sometimes up to 30 meters, and I made my films with that. Because I had the patience to assemble the pieces, and nobody did. Instead of taking a 20-meter take, I did it in two out of ten. […]

When I started I had to invent the effects myself, I was a pioneer.

(MARINS in MACÁRIO, 2011)1.

Creative tricks to reduce the budget

To compensate for budget limits and being self-taught, Mojica used creative tricks. As well as the reuse of resources and technical staff and cast, to guarantee and affirm his style.

When he had to show Terezinha’s decomposing body inside the coffin, Mojica used a trick he had invented in the days of the toy movie […]: in a bowl, mixed bread crumbs, milk and a bunch of live guava bugs and rubbed the goop on the actress’s face.

The dough, after drying, became white and brittle. When the animals started to move, they seemed to be piercing the corpse’s skin. […]

There are two scenes in the film that are a masterpiece of inventiveness and improvisation: one is the procession of the dead shown in negative. To achieve this effect, Mojica filmed a procession and had the film copied in negative. Thus, blacks became white and vice versa. […]

The other scene, even more spectacular, is that of […] the encounter between Joe Coffin and Antônio’s spirit. […]

There is a halo around the spirit, a bright line. […] Using a thin brush, […] Mojica he spread glue around Antônio’s image, on the negative itself, and glued glitter. After, […] ordered the lab to copy the scene again, from this adulterated negative.


The right meeting changes your life

In 1963, José Mojica Marins had an encounter with what would become his biggest and most famous character, practically his alterego: Josefel Zanatas or Joe Coffin. And it was for Joe, as well as for his creativity and artistic independence, that Mojica became a mythical and world-renowned figure in the cinematographic universe of Terror. Nowadays his works, like the artist himself, are seen as cult, classic and genius by critics/experts and fans of the genre.

It is clear that by believing and investing in himself, Mojica became an important filmmaker creating a cinema with its own laws, in its own way.

More contemporary entrepreneurs

Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Phoebe Waller-Bridge

If we want, we can also mention more contemporary and equally entrepreneurial names: Michaela Coel and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. The TV series that made them world famous, “Chewing Gum” and “Fleabag” respectively, were inspired by the theatrical plays of the same name where Coel and Bridge were the screenwriters, directors, actresses and producers.

They both brilliantly transposed their arts to the audiovisual. Adding that to the worldwide recognition and knowing their value, the entrepreneurial side of the two artists was recently exposed publicly: Coel refused a millionaire contract3 with Netflix, because she would have to give up her rights as the creator of the final work. Work that would later become “I May Destroy You”, a TV show produced by HBO and widely regarded by critics as the best TV series of 2020. And, as is more commonly known, Phoebe Waller-Bridge not only will be the screenwriter for the next James Bond film, but also has signed a millionaire contract with Amazon Prime4.

Self-promote yourself to conquer new worlds

We could not just stick to the few wonderful names mentioned here; there are so many other amazing examples but that would require turning the article into a huge encyclopedia. So the big question is: if we have so many great and varied examples of entrepreneurship in art, what are you missing, dear artist who is reading this article right now, to be more entrepreneurial to reach and conquer new worlds?


1 MACÁRIO, Carolina. Interview: José Mojica Marins, Joe Coffin, talks about his habits and remembers the past.News of the day. Florianópolis, 2011. Available in:

2 BARCINSKI, André; FINOTTI, Ivan. Damned: the life and cinema of José Mojica Marins, Joe Coffin. Publisher 34: São Paulo, 1998. Available in:

3 Available in:

4 Available in: