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Thursday, May 7, 2020

The Book of Lost Colors - The Background and Development of an Artists CryptoCurrency

The Book of Lost Colors is a new twist on an old idea. A coloring book for adults. I experimented with this concept a few years back but at that time it was with the idea of creating a book for sale. When I returned to the idea during the months of isolation for the Pandemic, it was with a new idea. Rather than creating a book, I would create individual pages that were based on some of my more popular art pieces. Each would be numbered and only available in limited editions as a download. Each piece would be used for giveaways rather than for sale. 

Some artists have the ability to create art that they can give away, but its costly. Mailing a small painting as a promotional item is still costly to do. What I wanted to do was create an art piece that could be given away at any time without any wait or cost but would still have value.

I looked at a lot of ideas, but it wasn't until the pandemic that I really started to consider ways that I and others could potentially provide items over the internet without having to deal with mailing anything. 

I played with a lot of different formats for the pages, some simple line drawings, others very complex. In the end I chose to go with something more complex because I think it reflects a complex piece of art first. The simpler the drawing becomes, the less value I felt it had. By creating a complex coloring page, it could potentially become an art form all by itself without even being colored in. 

It was most important that each one had value and could potentially become collectors items.

This isn't easy because it means that each piece, even though it is derived from an original piece of art, must be its own piece of art also. The value comes from taking the time to create something totally new based on something older. The value isn't because its a copy of something, but because it possesses its own beauty and value as a free standing work of art. Yet that piece of art also must allow for the possessor to evolve it to yet another piece of art of their own making if they wish. 

Its complicated I admit. In the end what I came up with was a page that could be colored if the owner wished to do so. The file is what has value. From there they have permission to print as many copies as they wish. Their email address and name is placed in a database that shows they are the original possessor of that piece of art. There can be value in a download just as much as if they had been mailed the piece. 

Every piece has a limited number of downloads and a moratorium on being used in this capacity once that limit has been reached. This way if I choose to take a piece and enlarge it I can, or use it in a book in the future I am able. As for downloads though, what they get, no one else gets. 

So lets look at a piece of art. All the pieces are being created from my original art. One of the first pieces created was base on this art. 

After about 40 trial and error variations, the final variation was this.

This was not just a matter of inversion to black and white. The line work was carefully enhanced to allow for the person coloring it to either use broad color on the various areas or really get into the details. Attention was paid to enhancement of some areas while other areas were reduced to the point where the gray scale would not impede the adding of colors to the image. Most important of all was how to create an image that is still interesting to look at, whether with color or without. 

When I was happy with the final inversion I put it out as a test piece to see what the response was to it. I am looking forward to seeing some of the colored versions later. 

Now attention had to shift to the fundamentals of information management. What did each piece have to include? The title, the series, the creator of course. The number sequence (which must be changed for each download sent out). 

Sizing had to be taken into consideration to make sure it could be printed out on a standard 8 x 11 piece of paper or card stock. 

The final version ended up being a separate certificate of authenticity that is included with the download so that the graphic wasn't impeded by any writing. The certificate is kept generic and the information filled in with each download.

So why am I going over all these details? 

Its simple. There are a whole lot of artists out there that are looking for economical ways to promote their work. There are dozens of variations on this basic idea that artists can use for their own. 

Think of this whole concept in terms creating a currency that is unique to you the artist. Each piece is currency whether you are selling it, using it as a promo tool, or making a million from a single painting. Everything you create has a monetary value. This experiment is the same. You are basically giving away some of your currency in an attempt to promote yourself as an artist. 

The thing is that we are so programmed to consider the only currency that we have is what we paint, print, etc and sell as a hard product to our fans. We never investigate other forms of currency. 

This in the end is merely a form of cryptocurrency. Can you hold a cryptocoin in your hand? Is there a bitcoin in your pocket? But they still have value. As the art world changes, we MUST work with the new tech that is being created. I am not sure this idea would have even worked ten years ago. But now...

 Use it to your advantage! 

If you'd like to participate in this as an artist please let me know and I can help you set up the basics you need. 

Here are the pieces completed so far. Please click each graphic to see the large version and information. 

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