Giving Back Through Prints: Realizing Cartellino’s Dreams
Wanting Something More Cartellino began in late 2018 with Tanya Mallillin pitching the idea of an online art digest and shop to Abby Frias Teotico, director of Galerie Stephanie. Then, Mallillin had an information design degree from the Ateneo de Manila University, was a graphic designer for MEGA magazine, and wanted to “apply herself in the local industry of contemporary art.”
Tanya recalled how Abby loved the idea so much that she offered herself as a business consultant and investor. After all, “having built her sharp business acumen as a hotshot photographer, she loves local art and wanted something more for it.”
With the help of MEGA writer Francesa Testa, the three were able
to get the online digest up by September 2019 and the shop by February 2020. However, with Francesca opting to contribute to the digest instead, the post was occupied by Elo Dinglasan, an Ateneo de Manila English Literature graduate. He took care of content right as Art Fair Philippines 2020 was going to launch.
These foundations came at an opportune time since the start of the pandemic “sent art galleries, spaces, and independent publishers bolstering their online presence to sustain operations and putting up shops of their own.
” Getting Inspiration from Everywhere Going online became an exciting terrain that offers a lush and robust lot of models to be inspired with and emulate. “Although Cartellino’s shop template and visuals were inspired by TAPPAN and Vice’s i-D, the overall idea of an art e-commerce site came from Artsy.”
However, to sever the digest’s being directly tied to the shop, the team looked at ArtReview, art-agenda, Flash Art, Artforum, and Singapore’s Plural Art Mag to reconsider their content. Then,
closer to home, are CNN PH Life’s contributors, Manila Art Blogger, Jed Gregorio’s “Artist Talks” in the Inquirer, the UP Vargas Museum’s Philippine Contemporary Art Network or PCAN, Ateneo’s Kritika Kultura, and Carlos Quijon, Jr’s tractions.
“Bottom line: We looked at everyone who started something and succeeded by inventing their own way.” Fostering Further Appreciation Cartellino can’t do things alone and the team doesn’t like gatekeeping either, so “the best that we can do is be attentive, be ‘embedded’ in what’s happening so that whatever we can cover, it comes from an informed perspective.”
It is this informed perspective that can help jostle more people to see the local goings-on for themselves, generate creative responses—or at least ask more questions. “It’s just about fostering further appreciation: letting people withhold judgment and see the art (and its industry) for themselves,” Tanya explained. “We see our readers as people who want to tag along with us as we figure it out, get in on the conversation, or secure a foot in the door.” Simply put, Cartellino aspires to have people “Look at art, Look at more art, and talk conscientiously about art (as we’re looking at it).”
Launching “First Edition: Artists Print Cooperative” Curator Ricky Francisco was instrumental in naming Cartellino’s flagship project “First Edition: Artist Print Cooperative” being the venture’s inaugural project and revolving around the idea of “artists supporting artists and people in need.”
In partnership with Print NOW, individual artists and art collectives, First Edition focuses on collecting up limited edition archival prints done through inkjet printing. “Participating artists can send high-resolution images of up to three of their artworks, along with the necessary artwork details, and we offer them a transparent price model for them to know—from a purchase—how much of the proceeds go to them, to their chosen beneficiaries, and to the artist communal fund.”
After that deduction, along with production costs and transaction fees, the profit allocation follows a 50/30/20 model. From a purchase, 50% goes to the artist, 30% goes to the beneficiary, and 20% goes to the communal artist fund, to be split afterward evenly among the artist participants. From there, artists are free to set the edition number and the selling price.
“They can even sell all unsold limited editions after the event themselves since all rights remain with them, with Cartellino out of the picture.” “Cartellino’s service charge is priced in a way to breakeven—we’re not looking to earn from this. This is us giving back,” Tanya shares.
Banking on the Accessibility of Prints Since prints set a lower price floor that caters to and encourages beginners to art collecting, Cartellino believes that “the accessibility accorded to prints and reproductions would (hopefully) lead to more substantial proceeds all around.” On top of that, prints are more portable.
“If you’re a student in a dorm or someone jumping from one apartment to another, prints might be a better option than lugging your parents’ prized Manansala,” she quips. With the vision of making art more accessible, so that people are able to purchase art they like, Cartellino believes that no one should be left behind.
“We shouldn’t forget that the people behind those works of art lead different professional and personal lives, with different needs and circumstances along with them, so the print-on-demand model is the best way for Cartellino not to tighten our belts any further.”
Nothing would be printed unless they’ve been ordered. So, the whole system is generally hassle-free on the artists’ part: “All we will need from them during the event is to sign the works we’ve printed before shipping them out.” Cartellino is determined to help people—artists, collectors, and beneficiaries alike—but it doesn’t discount the uncertainly of losing from this proposition.
“We’re waging a bet that there are indeed broader and more diverse audiences out there looking for ways into contemporary art,” but there’s no stopping them. Envisioning A Sustainable Future In equal priority, the Cartellino team dreams of “making Cartellino sustainable; that is, have our months end with income; supporting as many artists as we can and ensure that those consigned in our shop reach appreciative audiences; and, being a reliable informant for local contemporary art.
“We hope Cartellino could by then hire more, have a more expansive digest and shop portfolio, and be able to commit to local collaborations on a regular basis. ”From a future audience’s point-of-view, we hope to eventually come across as—as mentioned—’embedded.’
There are enough avenues for writing and e-commerce for art as it is. We can only hope Cartellino is thought of as a different kind.