The Thinking Behind the Charitable Sales Model


Art is no less vital today than it was millennia ago, when our ancestors painted on the walls of the caves that sheltered them. The best contemporary art still inspires empathy, induces catharsis, elevates our spirit, and feeds our hearts and minds.

But the relationship between art-making and human experience is complicated by economics. For over 2,000 years, art has been assigned a monetary or barter value. Given this long-established correlation, it is naive to decry the commodification of art; the artist, after all, must earn a living. But too often art is principally understood as an investment and the art world as an arm of the greater luxury market. As a result, artworks are reduced to status symbols, brands traded to display the owner’s wealth and social rank.

Like many other artists and writers, I am troubled by this warped appraisal of art’s elemental value. I am compelled to create, but the time I spend painting, drawing, writing, or otherwise creating precludes significant action in other spheres. How can my paintings, drawings, and prints, “fine art objects” traded in a luxury market, exist in accord with my ideology? More specifically, how can I earn a living and connect my creative work to worthy efforts?

In the fall of 2008, I decided to begin contributing a percentage of every art sale to nonprofit organizations that are working to redress environmental and social ails. By generating money for important causes through the sale of my artwork, I can act in proxy; the long hours in the studio can be connected to the spirit of the art and to the greater community. This charitable sales model is a concrete metaphor for the emotional and intellectual sustenance provided by the artwork itself.

How It Works

Whenever artwork is purchased, whether directly from the artist or through a gallery or other third party, a charitable contribution equal to 10% of the funds received by Christopher is made to a nonprofit organization working to tackle environmental or social challenges.