The Working Proof: Art, Commerce, and Community

Maggie Feuchter

Very often, the idea of combining art and a business model successfully seems like a daunting task. Try mixing that with social responsibility and you think that would be an unfathomable feat to pull off, but The Working Proof is doing just that. The New York City-based designers of Sub-studio, and also the creators of the associated design blog, started this venture in the latter part of 2009, combining the selling of artists' editions of prints with support for various charitable causes.

Just as The Working Proof’s slogan is threefold (“Creativity/Charity/Community”), the business model seems to work in a similar way. The artists’ work is released in a limited amount, printed in-house, with seemingly no restrictions on the creative content. The consumer gets to obtain a numbered and signed print at an affordable price, with most items listed under $50. And then for the third piece, both artists and consumers alike know that their efforts, either creative or monetary in value, are being channeled into a larger charitable initiative. Although donating percentages of purchases to such organizations is not unheard of by any means, the artist pairs a cause of their choice with the sale of their work. An explanation of why the organization is selected by the artist appears in the interview posted on the day their work is released, adding a touch of personalization to the whole transaction.

The community sense of this also has several facets. Of course, there’s the variety of charitable organizations that speak to the sizable global community receiving the benefits from this undertaking. But as the project has continued in the past few months, a nice collection of artists has taken shape under The Working Proof's umbrella, with subject matter and styles varying as their locales and the causes they support do. And then there’s the online community, which seems to inherently support such a venture as this. As the online venue has already been tried and tested as a viable marketplace for such creative outputs with the success of Etsy and similar web-based business models, this world wide web format seems to assist in linking artists and consumers alike from one side of the globe with social-responsible organizations helping out an incalculable number of people on the other.

And diversity is not to be lost amongst such an endeavor. As the charities involved range from animal causes to education to human rights and beyond, the prints being presented get changed up in a timely manner with a new edition being released every Tuesday at 1:30 PM EST. Watch for the first print release in the new year on Tuesday, January 5th at that very time.

Image courtesy of The Working Proof.