Are You an Artist Looking for Work? This New Website Wants to Connect You With Paying Customers Hungry to Learn How to Make Art

HireArtists.org is founded by Vallejo Gantner, the executive director of the Onassis Foundation.

HIreArtists.org connects artists with people looking to learn new skills.
HIreArtists.org connects artists with people looking to learn new skills.

A new online marketplace is connecting artists who are hard up for work with employers looking to hire them for their expertise.

HireArtists.org is designed to work similarly to TaskRabbit or Fiverr, websites that link gig workers to employers looking for people to do one-off jobs. It invites photographers, dancers, and website designers, among those in other disciplines, to sell their skills and knowledge to anyone looking for art lessons, or even to buy artworks. It’s free to sign up, and unlike other sites, HireArtists doesn’t collect a fee.

For consumers sitting at home, it provides an opportunity to break up the malaise of isolation with a little entertainment. You can learn magic or how to write a screenplay or even take drum lessons with a member of the Blue Man Group.

“For artists, many of whom have watched up to two years of paid work disappear almost overnight, HireArtists.org is a way to deploy their skills to recover and diversify their income,” Vallejo Gantner, the executive artistic director of the Onassis Foundation and cofounder of the website, said in a statement.

“For everyone else, this is a moment both to help and to expand our world during this time of confinement. We see it as a mutually beneficial experience and an important model for creating new opportunities in a time of crisis for some of our most vital and vulnerable communities.”

The idea came to Gantner, who led Performance Space 122 (now Performance Space New York) from 2005 to 2017, just three weeks ago as New York went into lockdown and many began losing work, including numerous artists. In an effort to support a friend, he asked her to give him and his son French lessons online.

Artistic director, Performance Space 122, Vallejo Gantner, attends Performance Space's 122 Spring Benefit at The Playhouse at the Abrons Arts Center on May 27, 2009 in New York City. Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images.

Vallejo Gantner. Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images.

“If these artists can’t do the thing that is their core practice, what can they do? Almost every artist has probably double-gigged their whole life,” Gartner said. “How do we take advantage of the skill set that they’ve got? How do we get people to be entrepreneurial about what they do? And how do we fill people’s time?”

So far, more than 200 artists have signed up with the service, which went live on April 3. And while only a couple thousand dollars have changed hands so far, Gantner predicts the number will grow.

Conceived in direct response to the economic crisis, the platform is not necessarily built for the long-term. Gantner acknowledges that the “gig economy”—which has been pushed, disastrously, as a way for freelancers to become “entrepreneurs” while undercutting permanent workers—has inherent problems. For many, the current pandemic has highlighted the holes in the increasingly precarious labor market.

“We’re approaching it knowing that,” he said. “But right now, let’s try and get some money into people’s pockets.”


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