Posts tagged ‘Dave Eggers’

Artist as entrepreneur: the new paradigm

So where are the models for these kinds of partnerships? Whom can we look to when we want to figure out how to move forward?

Dave Eggers, to me, represents a new model for the 21st century artist: someone who makes his own work, but who also finds new and interesting ways to distribute that work.

He starts organizations. And then scales them up. And he writes. And he makes movies.  He builds the tightly-knit intellectual community that he wants to be a part of.  Dave Eggers is a man that builds communities and creates social change. And he does that by making art and by helping other people make art.

826 Valencia, his tutoring center and pirate supply store was the first of what has become a national 826-tutoring-center-empire.

Then, in addition to a few different publishing enterprises and growing list of books and articles, a few specific pieces have an overtly social purpose. Two of his recent books recount the stories of people who have been struggling to build and rebuild their lives: a Sudanese refugee in What is the What, and a man heavily impacted by hurricane Katrina in Zeitoun.

A friend of mine who works for him once told me, “Dave Eggers has his fingers in many pies.”

Which is all to say, THAT IS SO MUCH TO HAVE DONE! That is so much community building. That is so much art. That is so much social change—no matter how you measure it or how unmeasurable it is, no matter how successful, or unsuccessful, any one project is. This is an artist who engages with and shapes the world.

Now of course, everybody’s different. It’s possible that Dave Eggers is a super-human artist-entrepreneur-bot who doesn’t sleep, and he certainly has skills and opportunities I don’t have. So, at this point, it seems pretty likely that I will not become another Dave Eggers.

However, I think that artist-nonprofit partnerships are right in line with this paradigm, and are exactly the kind of exciting projects that help to build stronger communities and create social change. Each of the photographers who has submitted to PhotoPhilanthropy is also an entrepreneur. So what I am doing is informed by having examples out there like Dave Eggers, and I am grateful for and inspired by that.

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November 27, 2009 at 1:30 am 1 comment


"In this way his work is more powerful in its moments of creation, when real human interactions are eroding racial stereotypes, than in its exhibition. And if the work succeeds, it is not because Subotzky can use a camera like no one else, it is because his photographs embody his efforts to confront social injustice on a personal level." --Charles Schultz on Mikhael Subotzky

PhotoPhilanthropy’s blog is written by Eliza Gregory

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