a proposal by V. Nagy
Theme: Reinvent the Etsy Market with Low-Income Artists in Mind
Issue: Sustainability, Economic Reforms
Approach: Social Ecology and Sustainable Development
Art Genre: Social Practice, Tactical Media
Strategy: Intervene, Investigate
Etsy has become a reliable way for artists the world over to share their craft and their work with a broad audience and a global market. There however, exists a fundamental flaw within this website and economic system. Artists are often those who most want to purchase the hand-crafted and the artsy. However, they are also the laborers in society that have the lowest incomes out of all other major fields. In the spirit of craft fair bartering, and the concept of Portland’s Time Bank, I propose a solution: The Art Trade Market!
In this system, all artists who generate an Etsy page and opt-in to this program enter the Art Trade Market’s pool through adding as many products as they choose into the Art Trade Market. By entering a few of their products into the Art Trade Market, these artists can purchase other artist’s work/products – but not with cash or credit! These Art Trades are made on based on a different metric, hours of labor. Similar to Hour Bank: Portland, 1 hour of labor equals 1 time credit. If you contribute a hand-made product to the Art Trade Market that required 6 hours of labor to make, you earn 6 time credits which you can then spend as you see fit in the Art Trade Market (i.e. these 6 credits could all be used to purchase a 6 credit product, or split to buy a 2 credit piece and a 3 credit piece, etc.).
Other users who buy from Etsy, but do not sell any products of their own, would still pay with cash or credit in the usual fashion. The Art Trade Market is a benefit for the salespeople and craftspeople of Etsy to get something back for their labor, instead of having to turn their profits back into expenses supporting the work of other artists on their platform. It allows for Etsy sellers to have a different kind of purchasing power not based on money. And because the basis of the Art Trade Market’s currency is based in hours, all art and crafts are made equal, independent of material components, visual style or languages, or medium. The Art Trade Market is an additional Etsy program that can be opted-in, and out of, at any time, allowing users flexibility to engage with the system.