Your Art Here
Four publishing and curatorial brands creating opportunities for photographers.
Fine-art photographer Adam Ryder’s photo book wasn’t the result of a detailed pitch or courting publishers. And to sell his large-format prints, he didn’t find an artist’s representative.
Now more than ever, emerging artists can present—and sell—their work in professional ways that are also cost-effective and accessible.
Using custom printer and book bindery Conveyor Studio, Ryder created a small-format, limited-edition “zine” for $1,000. His work— elaborate composites of Levantine landmarks and monuments from the 1920s and 1930s— was printed with black-only ink on a lightweight paper stock. He financed the project by “splitting it into two print runs, which each cost about $500,” Ryder says. The first half of the edition sold out quickly, and Ryder used the money he made to help pay for printing the final copies (which also sold out).
His success didn’t go unnoticed. Conveyor approached Ryder with the idea to expand the zine into a limited-edition photo book that would include a foldout map, gatefold panoramic and an essay by a prominent art historian.
Joint Photographic Survey was published in 2016, and has made the rounds at art-book fairs in the U.S. and Europe, growing Ryder’s visibility as a photographer. "The printed book has a longer life and further reach than an exhibition,” says Christina Labey, Conveyor co-founder and publications director. “The book as a medium or counterpart to a larger project is a lucrative way to share your work, spread ideas and build a portfolio.” Conveyor’s clients range from students and independent artists making small editions to galleries and universities making exhibition and thesis books, often to test the water of larger publishing.
Ryder says the full-fledged book project likely wouldn’t have happened if he’d created his initial zine with a mass-book producer like Blurb or Lulu. “The cool thing about working with Conveyor is that they’ll give you a consultation on design and outreach, and they’re very plugged in to the indie photo-book market,” Ryder says. “The personal consultation [service they offer] is what’s best about them.”
Conveyor is just one example of an outlet allowing emerging photographers to spread their fine-art wings to a wider audience.
THE GALLERY ROUTE
Take, for example, another platform that Ryder has utilized, Uprise Art, which launched as an online gallery in 2011 and, as of 2017, has a by-appointment showroom on Canal Street in Manhattan. Ryder was introduced to the gallery’s founder, Tze Chun, and has since exhibited his work and sold several large-format photographs through the company.
Uprise Art has a standard 50-50 profit split with each artist and handles the framing of each work. “We’re not producing open editions; everything we offer is a one-of-a-kind original or artist’s edition produced by the artists themselves,” says Uprise Art’s curatorial director Ian Marshall.
With over 150 visual artists on its roster (painters, sculptors and mixed-media artists as well as photographers), the gallery’s intention is selling to young and first-time collectors, as well as trade and enterprise professionals, like hotels and residential developments. Its “Art Under $800” online channel includes photographs of geometric public spaces in Southern California by Sinziana Velicescu and pastel Death Valley mountain studies by Jordan Sullivan.
“Our founder saw her friends had interest in beginning their collections, but were intimidated by the art world,” Marshall says. “[There wasn’t] transparency as to why things cost what they do. Uprise Art has an educational angle—we help collectors understand the entire process, and strive to maintain really close relationships with them as well.”
Marshall says the majority of works in Uprise Art’s collection have been sought out, though a few notable artists have applied themselves. “We look for art that people can live with,” he says. “It should be something they’re excited to look at every day of their lives. The most important thing is how a collector feels about the work.”
And the benefit to the artist, aside from selling the piece is, of course, more eyes. “If you’re a young artist making really good work, but no one has seen it, it’s like a tree falling in a forest,” Marshall explains.
“It’s the same benefit of a brick-and-mortar gallery,” Ryder says. “If [a client] approaches them and wants the type of art you do, you have someone who’s like a salesperson.”
PUBLISH A PORTFOLIO
Niche magazines like Fraction also expand artists’ followings, but circulate to a different audience.
Featuring four photographers’ portfolios each month, the free, online magazine is delivered to more than 25,000 subscribers’ inboxes. “Portfolios typically feature 15 to 20 images from the same series, so it’s a cohesive body of work, whether it’s narrative, portraiture or documentary,” says Fraction’s managing editor, Bree Lamb, who reviews more than 100 submissions per month. “In terms of style, subject matter or method of capture, we don’t have a preference; digital, film, alternative processes, collage—we’re pretty open.”
Each May, Fraction also publishes an anniversary issue, which features single images from up to 100 photographers. Some of the images from photographers who have been featured throughout the year also appear in Fraction’s shop—affordable small prints, books and zines to support the artists whose work is used. Photographers earn 60 percent of each print, zine or book sale, and Fraction reimburses for shipping. In 2017, they also launched Fraction Editions, their publishing imprint, and have open submissions for book proposals.
Fraction doesn’t pay artists featured in the online magazine, but the other benefits are valuable to new photographers. “[Fraction] is different than print publications because it’s so immediate and easily shared,” Lamb says. “We also do a lot of photo festivals and reviews, and our platform allows us to offer something tangible to the photographers we meet. We’re just trying to add a venue for photographers to show their work.”
TACK IT UP
For those aiming to serve up their work as 19 x 27-inch poster art, look no further than New York-based Rubber Factory Posters, a project hosted by RUBBER FACTORY gallery in the Lower East Side. “We’re not in the business of making motivational posters for office buildings or Van Morrison album cover posters,” writes co-founder Romke Hoogwaerts via email.
Instead, Rubber Factory Posters is interested in printing fine-art photography posters in small batches that are—above all else— beautiful. That could translate into a black-and-white photo of a bitten- into Kit Kat bar by Chris Maggio, or a portrait by Daniel Arnold of a woman at the 2017 Women’s March in D.C. wearing a shirt that says, “I Owe You Nothing.”
“The photographs we look for are special, unconventional, but ideally also elicit some kind of emotional response,” Hoogwaerts says. Still in its first year of business (as of this writing), Rubber Factory Posters, which was started by Hoogwaerts and RUBBER FACTORY founder Mike Tan, has released four batches, each featuring eight artists. Independent print fairs and its online shop serve as the company’s primary audience. “We also tend to write about them [on our website], whether it’s a short essay, interview or studio visit,” Hoogwaerts says. “It’s a nice way for them to get more eyes on their work.”
With a background in independent book publishing, Rubber Factory Posters’ concept came from Hoogwaerts’ frustration with the art-book industry’s inability to pay artists for their contributions. As a result, photographers earn 40 percent of the profit from their poster sales (or have the option to donate their cut to an organization of their choice).
“We have a responsibility to help our artists pay rent in order to continue being productive in their practices,” Tan says of Rubber Factorys’ mission. “I’ve also been much more cognizant about some of the structural biases in the art world, and the need to address this, specifically with the predominance of white, male photographers and the need to support a diverse range of voices.”
And changes to the photography landscape mean a world of new opportunities. Tan adds: “I think the photography world is becoming more and more experimental and less prone to sticking by traditional rules, which is a fantastic opportunity for emerging artists to challenge the boundaries of the medium.”
Two prints from Jordan Sullivan sold on consignment via a partnership between Uprise Art and artisanal home decor brand Local + Lejos.