It's hard to believe that RoomFifty is launching its tenth season of affordable art and design prints today. Founded in 2017 by illustrator Leon Edler, the online gallery and store has once again collaborated with 50 leading creatives to bring us 50 fresh, limited-edition posters. But that's not all: it's also revealing something of a "game-changer" for the creative industries.
MakeRoom is a totally new concept by RoomFifty, which makes setting up a store "ridiculously easy" for designers and illustrators and "eliminates all of the barriers to selling artwork and merchandise worldwide," according to Edler. "Seeing the difficulties faced by artists selling prints, we wanted to create a service that allows artists and businesses to sell their work on-demand, direct from their site," he continues.
Until now, if you wanted to set up something to sell prints of your work, you'd need a third-party website such as Big Cartel or Shopify to get going, stock (and we all know what an expensive headache that can be), packaging and frames, along with all the time and effort to process orders, complete paperwork (thanks Brexit), package the prints, go to the Post Office, chase lost orders, answer emails and so on.
With MakeRoom, all an artist needs to sell prints of their work is a website and a MakeRoom subscription. What you get in return is a five-star service, an industry specialist checking your files and creating your store, personal customer service, competitive prices, 50 plus printers around the world, and an online dashboard showing products and profits. Just upload your files, choose what products you want to sell and at what price, and you're up and running. Sound good? All the details can be found here.
Meanwhile, for those of you interested in RoomFifty's tenth season, you can expect loyal artists to the platform such as Nishant Choksi, Jasper Van Gestel, Ohara Hale and Ji Hyun Yu but also some amazing new artists like Nancy Clayton, Benedikt Luft, Roisin O’Donnell, Uduehi Imienwanrin, Philomena Powell and Christian Ovonlen. "We are also really chuffed to have Gizem Vural and Nicole Rifkin back with a couple of their amazing prints. We really think this is our best season yet and can't wait for people to see it," adds Edler.
Five of RoomFifty's artists included this season are from Intoart – an art and design studio in south London working inclusively with people with learning disabilities. "Their vision is for people with learning disabilities to be visible, equal and established artists," says Edler. "While we have claimed to be dedicated to making sure our roster is diverse, we realised that this didn't extend to artists with disabilities. I'm glad we are finally putting that right. And while we found them through a charity, it is not an act of charity to include them. We are including their work because it's just really good. We had an amazing reaction when we sold an exclusive Intoart range back in 2019 and we expect the reaction will be very similar this time."
As always, 50% of the profits from print sales goes to each artist involved. And that's not all – Edler and his team, which now also boasts Chris Clarke, Ben Longden and Ellie Davey, have made big improvements to the website, too – making it as accessible as possible. RoomFifty hopes to collaborate with more artists with a disability in future.
"I had a lightbulb moment that made me realise just how unfair it is that some artists face so many barriers to entry in the art world," says Edler. "These barriers are completely arbitrary. Their disability is irrelevant in the context of whether the art is good or bad or whether these artists should be commissioned. We are finally starting to talk about inequality in relation to race and gender, but this doesn't seem to be extending to disability in the same way.
"I felt so strongly about this that I have since become a trustee of Intoart and want to try and create some conversation around this and to create meaningful, ongoing relationships between artists and commissioners. I want everyone who commissions art – papers, magazines, design agencies etc. to have the same lightbulb moment I had. I think if we look at the commissioning process and make commissioning the artists more straightforward, most people would be up for it."
The tenth season of RoomFifty launches today along with its new MakeRoom platform. Discover more, buy prints and show your support at roomfifty.com.