People have jobs in order to survive; artists create because they have no choice.
Art is work multiplied by passion. The result of that arithmetic must be shared to have an impact on society and culture – and the creators’ wallets. Yet, most artists have day jobs and little time to promote and market the fruits of their labor.
That dilemma was shared by Micah Turner, a Reno artist who also is an information security analyst. His solution was to create Digital Arts Now, an online platform for local artists, their original art works, merchandise, and fan subscriptions. The site’s mission is “to empower artists to make art and monetize their passion.
“It was an invention of necessity,” Turner said. When he was trying to brand himself as an artist his work was shown in brick-and-mortar galleries, but he also needed a digital space to showcase and sell his pieces and provide other support. “Next thing you know, I’m managing six or seven different websites, sign-ons and customer bases, including social media. I wanted something that was all together in one place, and that didn’t exist.”
It does now. Turner combined his vocation and his computer skills to create Digital Arts Now in January. The site, in partnership with the Reno Punk Rock Flea Market, hosts the work of Truckee Meadows artists and also offers another revenue stream for area non-profits. Half the monthly take from the site, which charges a 4% to 5% commission on sales, goes to a designated non-profit each month.
In March, Digital Arts Now is hosting an online auction to benefit Our Center, Reno’s LGBTQ-specific community center which provides access to advocacy, support, educational programs, services and resources. Our Center will receive 100% of the proceeds from the auction, which begins on March 17 and ends March 31, and also will get 50% of DAN’s profits in March.
Artists who donate artwork to the auction receive a year’s premium subscription to the site, with a 4% commission rate on sales.
Artists build on their work
“For the auction, the premium subscription is an incentive to get people to sign up, but I care a lot more about having talented members than I do about collecting subscriptions,” Turner said. “I want to help artists organize their workflow. DAN is not just a place to sell their work, but a place to build their work. I want to focus on the artists and supporting the non-profits.”
Other sites host artists’ work for sale, but charge frequent fees for transactions. “On those sites, you get hit with fees whether you’re doing a little business or a lot of business,” he said. “The fees really add up. On DAN, there’s no listing fees or promotion fees. An artist can sign up for free and post 20 products at no expense and the platform takes 5% commission on sales. With a premium subscription they can have up to 250 products at 4% commission.”
Helping local non-profits also is a core value of the site.
“Imagine if a company like Etsy gave 50% of its profits to a single non-profit each month,” he said. “That would be a huge force for good in our community. I hope one day to be at that level.”
Artists, non-profits welcome
DAN is still looking for collaborators, both nonprofits to support and artists looking for a digital landing spot. “It’s a place for painters, crafts people, authors, musicians and other artists to host their work in a more dynamic way,” Turner said. “If you’re a band, like Nino Santo, you want a place to sell merchandise, discs or records. Being on the site gives bands tighter control over pricing and discounts.”
The Reno Punk Rock Flea Market, which formerly had a part-time physical presence in Reno, has its own vendor space on DAN. Turner said the space also is a good option for galleries that are open but under pandemic restrictions. “They can now have a virtual space as well,” he said.
In just two months, Digital Arts Now has grown to showcase paintings, jewelry, fine-art prints, leatherwork, hats, textiles, music and books, such as local author Jacci Turner’s middle grade and young adult fiction collections.
Fine art and jewelry
The Reno Punk Rock Flea market’s vendors include DaSilva Studios, founded by Jessica DaSilva in 2009, which offers one-of-a-kind, hand-painted, kiln-fired glass enamel jewelry. Rhiannon Wolfe, an artist and historian, specializes in creating watercolor, colored pencil and acrylic images of animals and the natural environment. Her work is available as prints, magnets and greetings cards and she also takes commissions, including pet portraits.
A Clockwork Monster
The League of Shadows creates jewelry that are modern-day talismans that celebrate the night. Highway 447 Copper offers unique copper jewelry that incorporates quartz crystals and semi-precious stones. SGT Photo features a collection of float-mounted, high-gloss, metal photo prints, with float mounts on the backs for hanging.
Clockwork Monster is a Reno-based steampunk millinery company that specializes in buckram and wire frame hats, but also has a large inventory of colorful face masks and steampunk jewelry. Milliner Shelly Jackson, the artist within the Clockwork Monster, also has been donating masks to local schools.
“I have had requests for an unprecedented 1,000 masks for a single low-income elementary school in our area in addition to some smaller requests from other schools. Eep! I can do that, I have made thousands in this madness. But If anyone was feeling generous and wanted to help me offset the costs of this donation (fabric, thread, liners, elastic, nose pieces, baggies, paper and ink), even the smallest donations can make a big difference. My shop at Digital Arts has “Mask Grab Bags” in assorted sizes and prices, and you could buy one and just say “Donate” in the comments.”– Shelly Jackson, Clockwork Monster.
“Shelly has donated hundreds of masks to local teachers,” Turner said. “They are all hand-made. It’s an incredible thing she’s doing for the teachers and the schools.”
Plans for expansion
Digital Arts Now will continue to grow, but will remain local for the time being, he said.
“For the first year, we’ll be hyper geo-focused on Northern Nevada,” Turner said. “Then we’ll make it a template and go out from there. This is a proof of concept.”
Artists are passionate about their work, he said, and he’s excited about helping to get their art out to the public.
“Art is a side hustle for a lot of these people,” he said. “They do their day jobs, but they have to create; they can’t help it. Art is about following your passion, stretching yourself, being creative and living your life to its fullest.”