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This is the third in a 3 part series. Click here for the whole series on art marketing for different categories.

Screen Shot 2013-08-08 at 9.23.50 AMThe “Merch Artists” are on the bottom of the pyramid because they represent a growing number of successful artists and because this genre has been considered and referred to as “low art” for years.

Admittedly, I’m biased towards this group because it’s the arena of art I create, it’s the art that I love and it is the genre that populates my growing collection of original art.

Pop Culture

The “Merch Artists” are the illustrators, designers, painters, cartoonists and artisans that are creating pop culture inspired art and merchandise for sale directly to the consumer.

They have become more plentiful as the rise of Comic, Sci-fi, Fantasy and Pop Culture conventions have become more popular.

The “Geek as Mainstream” phenomenom has allowed previously private loves and passions to become public and popular and experienced en masse.

This new creator relies heavily upon the internet and social media, is connected to pop culture and for the first time since before the industrial revolution, controls both the means of production and distribution.

These are the creative entrepreneurs who develop multiple revenue streams and are constantly testing out merchandise in order to hone their offering and understand their audience.

They create their art and use it again and again to create more stuff – all kinds of merchandise! and many are now seeing lucrative licensing deals in fabric, print, toys, packaging and much more.

©Tara McPherson - Bubble Yucky Dunny toys based on her art.

©Tara McPherson – Bubble Yucky Dunny toys based on her art.


Takashi Murakami has been blending “high” and “low” art for years and had a lucrative collaboration with Louis Vuitton which featured his illustrations on a variety of their exclusive handbags.

Many of these commercial or “low” artists transition into gallery artists who show regularly.

Jason Edmiston is hanging his first solo show at the Mondo Gallery in Austin Texas, opening August 23rd.

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Wide Wide World

The opportunity available to a creator in this category is limited only to their imagination and willingness to make connections and collaborate with other industries.

These artists routinely take the bull by the horns and create their own opportunities, build their own audience, create and sell direct to their consumer.

They’re not waiting around to be “chosen” by the established authorities – they’re entrepreneurial and motivated to create their own business based on shared passions with their audience.

Jason Edmiston, Nimit Malavia, Audrey Kawasaki, Bobby Chiu, Kei Acedera and Cynthia Liu are all artists who have embraced the tools and technology available and created opportunities for themselves directly.

So, how do you build a business in this kind of art world? Click here to find out.

Click here to read the rest of the series.


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