SuperAbundance

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By Jason Bailey

Traditional ideas around supply and demand suggest you do not want your supply to exceed your demand or your work will go down in value. I believe we need to flip this and recognize that demand is often created as a result of a large and steady supply of artwork being generated by an artist. 

As an artist, curator, and collector, I’ve often heard that artists must be careful not to produce too much work or they risk flooding their own market. My theory is that abundance, not rarity, is the secret to success for artists. This flies in the face of the traditional wisdom, which says that things must be scarce in order for them to be valuable. Traditional ideas around supply and demand suggest you do not want your supply to exceed your demand or your work will go down in value. I believe we need to flip this and recognize that demand is often created as a result of a large and steady supply of artwork being generated by an artist. 

To explore this, I combined data on both the primary and secondary sales for 272 artists on SuperRare. Doing this gave me a more complete picture of their market, one that I do not believe is currently available through any other resource. If my theory is correct, the artists with the highest total sales (primary + secondary sales) should also be among those who have produced the most work — or, simply put, those who produce more should earn more. 

Sure enough, the top three artists for total sales — Hackatao, Xcopy, and Coldie — are all in the top 10% for the highest total number of works on SuperRare. I suspect that this is the case for several reasons:

  • They have established familiarity and brand by sharing a steady stream of work over time.
  • They have produced a large enough number of works to support the creation of collections by more than a handful of collectors.
  • Artists who produce more art learn and improve faster through steady practice.

At first look, you may think Pak, who places fourth for total sales on SuperRare, may be the exception, as he achieved similar success while producing fewer works. As of the writing of this post, Pak is actually adding work to SuperRare at more than twice the speed of the other three artists. He just got a later start. At this rate, Pak actually has a decent chance of catching up to them.  

This made me wonder if adding works to SuperRare at a higher frequency would work for or against artists. To find out, I calculated the average number of works added to SuperRare per week and the average weekly sales total (again, primary + secondary) for each artist based on their start dates. Then I broke the artists into four groups by the average number of works added to SuperRare per week: 0-0.5 (120 artists), 0.5-1 (57 artists),  1-2 (63 artists), and 2+ (32 artists). 

Again, it would appear that, on average, artists who produce more works generate higher total sales. There is a lot more work to be done here, but I hope you can see that there is no reason to artificially reduce the amount of art you would naturally produce. I would ask that you follow the SuperRare guidelines of adding no more than two works a week until they make it possible for collectors to mute and unmute artists from the main feed.

If you’d like to learn more about why I believe artists should produce more work — not less — read my article How To Become A Successful Artist on Artnome.com. Until next time, good luck and keep making art!

*Author’s note: I removed artist Robbie Barrat from the sample as he created a large number of tokens that were intended to be viewed as a single work. Given this was an early experimental format that did not continue on I removed him as an outlier. Likewise, I removed artist Winteagle as they had been on SuperRare for less than a week at the time of my analysis.

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Artnome

Jason Bailey is an art nerd trying to trigger an art analytics revolution. Jason is mission driven to use technology and data to improve the world's art historical record and to bring attention to artists working at the intersection of art and technology.

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4 Comments

  1. Interesting analysis Jason! Makes me think. I fully agree with the steady stream. Steady in production, and a participatory presence in the community make all the difference.
    However, I’d be cautious about abundance, I’m always afraid of hyperinflation. Scarcity also stimulates the secondary market (combined with other factors like steady).

    Every artist has to find his or her own balance with himself or herself, his or her art and the market.

    So I would say: stay in rare steady stream

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    1. Thanks Hackatao, I agree 100% My hope was that artists who have an urge to create lots of art follow that urge without concern. There is no evidence that I could find that making too much work prevented an artist from being successful. I know artists who have told me they worry about that and I hope this research can help them stop worrying and focus more on making the art that they and we all love. Thanks again for the thoughtful comment!

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  2. I have always been cautious to only tokenize the works that mean the world to me, every single one. Knowing I’ll be making art for the rest of my life lets me off the hook for becoming a machine that may burn out either due to social media or obsession with sales. I have been in a very prolific state lately, but mostly do to inspirations of learning all the tools that are developing in blockchain. I’m quickly acquiring a specialized toolbox that will be played with an analyzed or the rest of my eternity. It takes the pressure off when you know you are in it for the long haul. Not everyone will become a success overnight, but of course it’s always welcome in most people’s dream. giselflorez.com

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    1. Thats great Gisel! I think we all love finding that sense of flow where we feel really creative and productive. For what it is worth I recommend running with it without giving a second thought or worry to having made too much work. If you are feeling the spirit then run with it as far as it will take you! And regardless of sales it sounds like you already are a success. Cheers and thanks for reading my post!

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