Digital Folk Art – A whole new world of art that is not art: Gavin Artz


Gavin Artz is finding business models for artists working in the digital arena. His previous career saw him working with corporate giants, now he is the chief executive at the Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT). As he undertakes his MBA exploring the relationships between creativity and business management, the arts community has someone looking after its financial future. Gavin will be delivering a session at the Allsorts Online Masterclasses in Adelaide on December 2.

“In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.” – Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970)

Digital folk art comes from open source technologies and associated open distribution channels and raises many questions for the arts.

The price of technology has fallen, often to nothing, as access to technology and technological know how has exploded. Whole open source industries offer easy to use, powerful, creative tools that build digital communities of shared creative meaning. There is a digital culture that creates and distributes online, that reflects on the world and represents it to a community ready to digest.

This is a vibrant, living, creative culture and just as folk art is a daily response to the world people live in, decorating and telling stories on everyday objects, this digital folk art does the same. As with some folk art, digital folk art can be seen as kitsch, amusing and distracting decoration; some also can be seen as powerful and influential art. With the multitude of work created only a small proportion maybe seen as art, the people who create it and experience it don’t care what it is called, they don’t care about the art world; they live and respond to a bigger world, they live art.

If we live art, if our daily lives engage continually with artistic expression, do we in a modern western society have the capacity to recognise such a creative culture as art?



Digital folk art benefits from the change in economic models that the digital era has ushered in. The digital world encourages abundance (Anderson 2006), server costs are negligible, access and software are cheap or free. All work can be made available and no one person is mediating your experience. No one is limiting access to the full breadth of art and culture.

Galleries, museums and exhibitors are at a crossroads. These organisations have traditionally operated within the economics of scarcity; limited wall space, limited storage space. The digital world does not work on that model. The digital world does not need to show work in a building and you don’t have to leave your daily life to experience it.

*What spaces will be the environments in which to have an arts experience?
*Will we know we are having an arts experience?
*Do we need to know that we are having an art experience?
*What will be called art and what work should be preserved?
*Do digital artists want work preserved?
*Is there a role for curators when scarce resources no longer need to be allocated?
*How do artists make a living when it is difficult to show work and very difficult to sell work?

We are on the eve of a shift to a different concept of artistic creative culture. We are moving to a conception of the arts that does not just have its domain as a cultural activity, but one where this creativity is central to culture, community and the economy. This new conception of a creative culture is full of opportunity not only for artists, but all citizens. However, to get to these opportunities we need to review concepts we have long taken for granted.

Gavin Artz will be presenting one of the four masterclasses CAN, the Royal Institution of Australia and the Australian Network for Arts and Technology are running on December 2. Gavin’s intensive workshop will cover the issues facing artists and galleries as they enter the online world to promote artworks and collections. He will be running the classes with Australia Council Digital Programs Officer Fee Plumley. With just 10 people in the three-hour workshop, there will be ample opportunity to draw on their wealth of knowledge and experience.



Event: Allsorts Online Forum
Date: December 1
Venue: State Library of South Australia, Adelaide
Cost: Free
Time: 8.30am – 5pm + Drinks
Registration: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/189943/canforum

Event: Allsorts Online Masterclasses
Date: December 2
Venue: Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT) and the Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus)
Cost: $250 per 3-hour session
Time: 9am – Noon, 1pm – 4pm
Registration: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/189943/canforum

Image caption: High heeled shoe on tricycle, `Liquorice Allsorts’, designed by Ross Wallace, used in `Parade of Icons’ Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony, Sydney 2000. Collection: Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. Part of the Sydney 2000 Games Collection. Gift of the New South Wales Government, 2001.

Anderson C. 2006, “Long Tail, The, Revised and Updated Edition: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More”. Hyperion, New York.

3 Responses to “Digital Folk Art – A whole new world of art that is not art: Gavin Artz”

  1. Creative Cultural Practice and the Commercial in Harmony | Mission Models Money Says:

    [...] Digital folk Art (Artz 2009) is becoming a big part of this new creative culture.  Folk art is a decoration of daily items, it is a community creativity that is used to communicate something about ones self and culture.  Digital Folk Art does much the same thing.  There are kids in their bedrooms making Star Wars stop motion movies, there is 8 bit fan art and even sophisticated physics modeling being shared.  Just as with folk art much of the Digital Folk Art is not a profound creative experience, some times though it does reach that level, but more importantly the people creating it don’t care.  People are doing what humans have done since there have been humans, they are actively creatively communicating in a community. [...]

  2. Creative Cultural Practice and the Commercial in Harmony « Ancillaryips Says:

    [...] Digital folk Art (Artz 2009) is becoming a big part of this new creative culture.  Folk art is a decoration of daily items, it is a community creativity that is used to communicate something about ones self and culture.  Digital Folk Art does much the same thing.  There are kids in their bedrooms making Star Wars stop motion movies, there is 8 bit fan art and even sophisticated physics modeling being shared.  Just as with folk art much of the Digital Folk Art is not a profound creative experience, some times though it does reach that level, but more importantly the people creating it don’t care.  People are doing what humans have done since there have been humans, they are actively creatively communicating in a community. [...]

  3. Digital Folk Art – A whole new world of art that is not art: Gavin Artz « Ancillaryips Says:

    [...] http://keystone.collectionsaustralia.net/publisher/Outreach/?p=3437 [...]

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