Creative Business Wrap – February 2022

DIY Re-Ply in NYC

Let’s start with this good news story of innovative Australian design which combines foraging, zero waste, pivoting, political protests and social distancing. Three Australian architects gathered plywood used to cover shop windows during protests in New York City and transformed it into chairs, tables, road barriers and planter boxes that are now used by businesses all over Manhattan. The resulting new business is Re-Ply and the designers have worked on 25 installations, incorporating graffiti art painted on the boards during the protests. Who knows, with international borders reopening, perhaps we might even get to see their work in NYC sometime soon.

Learning from the Misfits

The catchy subtitle of “The Misfit Economy” by Alexa Clay and Kyra Maya Phillips, “lessons in creativity from pirates, hackers, gangsters, and other informal entrepreneurs” neatly sums up this collection of case studies of misfits who create successful businesses by breaking rules and ignoring the status quo. The reference to organised crime grabs the attention but it also includes stories of people with dyslexia, autism, and attention deficit disorder who found alternatives to traditional problem-solving. “Misfits”, they argue, share common traits with entrepreneurs and artists and champion informality and self-governance. First published in 2015, their five key principles for unleashing your inner misfit (hustle, copy, hack, provoke and pivot) seem very fitting for 2022.  Available in the very conventional formats of book and audiobook.

NFT’s compared to Ponzi schemes

Lots of people are predicting the boom in non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – and their offspring fractional NFTs, where you can buy a share of an NFT – to continue this year.  Michael Golumb in Forbes called them “the new frontier of revenue generation, specifically with regard to the arts”. I can understand how it works (just about) but how a 12-year-old can make $400,000 selling NFTs of pixelated cartoon whales is harder to comprehend.

So I enjoyed John Hawkins’ provocative article in The Conversation where he called NFT’s “an overblown speculative bubble inflated by pop culture and crypto mania”. He likens cryptocurrency markets to Ponzi schemes, because for existing investors to profit, new buyers have to be drawn into the market. He predicts that some creators will make big money (in crypto) in “the monster of all speculative bubbles” but holders will be left with something of “no intrinsic value”. Could time be running out for artists – and preschoolers – to make their fortune in NFTs?

Export Market Development Grants in trouble

A website I like to keep an eye on is InnovationAus, which follows policy developments impacting digital companies. Lately, they’ve been running hard on problems being experienced with the Export Market Development Grants (EMDG), and as lots of creative businesses have accessed the grant in years parts, it’s worth covering here too. Basically, after the program was reviewed last year, the agency responsible (Austrade) has been swamped by applications and forced to reduce the amounts given out to companies. So, if your business has regularly counted on the EMDG to return some of your international marketing costs… best have a plan B in place.

Quick Links

The new online crowdfunding option is the old fashioned raffle

Work stressing you out? Take five minutes to listen to chill out with some exquisite choral music by Voces8, who are masters of their craft. The composer is Eric Whitacre, the pioneer of virtual choirs, a medium that came into its own during the global pandemic when 17,562 singers from 129 countries created “Sing Gently”. They’re crowdfunding at the moment for Whitacre’s new work “The Sacred Veil” – and their approach is not a bad example to follow for anyone thinking of running a campaign; high quality visuals, a range of rewards and even a “just in case” option of $10,000 to buy yourself an Executive Producer credit. Plus, they’re the first group I’ve come across using digital platform Lucky Ticket to run an online raffle. We cannot be far away from the digital cake stall. Remember, you heard it here first.

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