events reviews

Review: Paper View: A Zerofriends Show @ The Cotton Candy Machine

On May 6th, The Cotton Candy Machine, Tara McPherson’s new gallery, opened a group show entitled Paper View: A Zerofriends Show. The show features new work, prints, apparel, books, and more by Alex Pardee and Zerofriends. Kristen Wyman headed out to the show was nice enough to write a review for the Creep. All images from the Cotton Candy Machine and Sara Antoinette Martin.

The “Paper View” show featuring the creative collective Zerofriends at Cotton Candy Machine boutique and gallery on Friday night was a stunning representation of the new wave of Do-It-Yourself artists who strive to make fine art more accessible to their fans. Founded by well-known artist Tara McPherson in Williamsburg just last month, the Cotton Candy Machine hosts a different show every month and focuses on originals and prints for $500 or less.

Paper View featured work by Alex Pardee, Dave Correia, Skinner and Robert Bowen. On sale were some original ink drawings by Pardee along with art books, Giclee prints and t-shirts by Zerofriends with prices ranging from $550 for the originals to just $10 for 5X7 unlimited Giclee prints. One of my favorite works from the show was “Skeletoddler” by Dave Correia which anyone who remembers the 1980’s He-man will definitely appreciate. Before the doors opened at 7pm there was a line of people waiting outside for their chance to purchase some art and chat with the two attending artists, Alex Pardee and Dave Correia.

I spoke to both Alex and Dave to hear what they thought of working with Tara and about their DIY approach to fine art which brought Zerofriends together. Alex met Tara at a Haley Davidson show some years ago and they were admirers of one another’s work. “It’s surreal because I was a fan of Tara’s for years and five years ago I would have killed to be here showing my work in her gallery.” Zerofriends shares Tara’s aim to provide premium art which is reasonably priced. Alex was inspired to start Zerofriends because his fans were into the obscure, high-end, unattainable kind of art he was influenced by. He wanted to bring that fine art quality to products which were affordable for most everyone. David told me he and Alex had been doing small-press comics and art books for ten years by going to Kinkos, but that meant each product was expensive to produce. So I asked them, how do they produce quality Giclee prints, books and t-shirts and sell them relatively cheap? Contrary to the cliché, an artist’s gotta eat. Alex told me their secret was that they actually buy the equipment to make the prints and t-shirts themselves. He and Correia screen print each t-shirt by hand and they own a professional printer to print the Giclees. So essentially, from concept to purchase, each art product is handled only by the artists himself and there is no cost of a middle man. DIY fine art.

Then I wondered how come such an idea is only catching on now?

Over that last two decades the fine art printing technology has evolved to be more accessible, with the price of large format printers going down and quality going up. In the 1990s the premier art printer was the Iris which would run you roughly $100,000 depending on the model – not exactly affordable for the small-scale entrepreneur. In 2005, Iris’ descendant the Ixia was around $45,000. Better. Today a good digital printer capable of producing large exceptional Giclees around $12,000. Not exactly pocket change, but within reach of small investors. Better technology which is cheaper means this move towards personally owning the equipment to produce art products can only happen now. Just five years ago such an enterprise would have been financially impossible. What this means for Do It Yourselfers like Tara, Alex and Dave, for all their fans who would love an affordable limited edition, and for the whole fine art print industry, is revolution.

Dave told me “Zerofriends was created to help promote other artists. We are opening it up to more and more artists so they can get their name out there on prints, t-shirts and other stuff.” Judging by the line at the Cotton Candy Machine register, I would say this new concept of selling affordable fine art is a rather popular idea.

Viva la Revolución

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