MS. REBECCA SHEIR
Buying a first work of art can be a pretty big deal. After all, you have to consider the medium, the size, the colors, the price. All of these things can come into play when you're thinking about forking over hundreds, thousands, sometimes even millions of dollars.
MS. REBECCA SHEIR
Our next story, however, is about a totally different way of buying art. It was developed by two graduates of the Corcoran College of Art and Design, D.C. based artists Rachel England and Chandi Kelly.
MS. RACHEL ENGLAND
We were sending each other artwork and really loving that exchange. Then, we just thought why wouldn't people want to pay for this? We can do this.
Kelly now organizes a group of more than 20 local artists known collectively as "Project Dispatch." They sell their art the same way you'd sell magazines, by subscription. You pay the fee, anywhere from $25 to $75 a month and twelve times a year a new piece of artwork arrives wrapped up in a nice little package, right at your door. Emily Friedman has more.
MR. BRIAN DILLION
So my name's Brian Dillion.
MR. JORGE HUSMAN
And I'm Jorge Husman. We're sitting here in our apartment in Mount Pleasant.
MS. EMILY FRIEDMAN
Brian is finishing up his Ph.D. in linguistics and Jorge works for the federal government. They're art collectors, though they would never call themselves that.
I'm not an art person and so I'm not, like, very familiar with the art scene, I guess.
A friend of theirs had a subscription to Project Dispatch and the guys thought it was an interesting concept.
We didn't really think about our subscription is going to be supporting this local artist. We kind of just liked it and we're like let's do this.
They've been liking the stuff they get, well, most of it.
There was one that we weren't very thrilled about. Maybe this wasn't one that we liked but maybe the next one will.
This is the final month of their subscription so by now they know the drill.
It's always a nerve-wracking because you're kind of anxious to rip it open but you don't want to damage the art.
Although they don't know it yet, the artwork Brian and Jorge will receive this month is from an illustrator named Elizabeth Graeber. Hi Elizabeth.
MS. ELIZABETH GRAEBER
In her studio slash living room in Grover Park, she's about to draw two birds, one for Brian and one for Jorge.
So I have my paper, my Bristol paper and my book of North American birds to draw from. I'm just happy to be drawing and that people like it so they want to buy it.
Later, Graeber will package up the drawings and ship them off. Though Brian and Jorge live just across town, Project Dispatch has subscribers all over the country, 20 to 30 subscriptions go out each month and that's helping artists like Graeber, make a name for themselves.
MR. ANDY GRINDBERG
I think what they're doing is the next big thing. It solves a very real problem in the lives of young artists, which is how to get your work out there, how to get people interested in buying it and this is kind of the ground floor that.
That's Andy Grindberg, former art critic for The New York Times, now Dean of undergraduate studies at the Corcoran College of Art and Design. One question remains however, is it a sensible investment?
I'm saying it's an investment in the future of contemporary art but it may not necessarily be an investment in your own bank account.
That $50 piece might be worth more one day, he says, but it's not likely.
All contemporary art collectors put their money on some people with the expectation that with the right support and the right nurturing their work is going to get better, get a wider audience, become more valuable. What you're doing is supporting a merging artist who may pan out to be the great artist of the next generation.
So Project Dispatch is about the art, but it's just as much as about the experience, tearing open a package and seeing what's inside.
It's Elizabeth Graeber.
We love her.
And just like that, these non-art collectors add another two pieces to their collection.
Wait, are there two?
Two, my God. This is awesome.
No way. They're matching bird prints. That's really phenomenal.
I'm Emily Friedman.
You can learn more about Project Dispatch and see of images of Brian and Jorge's birds on our website, metroconnection.org.
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