ArtCrank 2011

Artcrank 2011

Getting someone to pay for your ideas gets rid of a lot of fuzzy thinking.

– Tim O’Reilly, O’Reilly Media

This month the designers and I are creating posters to sell at a benefit for cycling called ArtCrank.
It’s the second year we’ve participated in this event and it’s always a
good time for a cause we love. But it’s also a challenge.

Thirty designers are chosen to create posters with a cycling theme.
Designers print thirty posters to sell for $30.00 each at an opening night gala
and for a few days following. The benefit group is always a supporter
of cycling and they get a cut of the poster sale. Then the organizer,
ArtCrank, takes a cut and the designer gets the remainder, about $13 per
poster. Thirty posters with a budget of $13 gives each designer $390 to
play with—if we sell all our posters!

Lots of freedom, not much money

Posters can be as large as 20 x 26, which is great, but even archival
inkjet is pricey at that size. Here at Cooper Smith & Company, last
year Robin turned to archival inkjet, Matt self printed with
screen-printing and I relied on traditional offset. My poster was way
over budget, but they sold out opening night. Since it was offset, it
was easy to print a longer run of 75 posters. That allowed me to sell
additional posters following the show. I’ve sold about ten more posters
at full price ($30 or $35 with shipping.) With those proceeds added in,
I’ve more than covered my costs.

But spending a little extra was worth it for me last year. This year
I’m trying screen printing, and I’m still over budget. I’m nervous. This
year, the opening night is on a Thursday instead of a Saturday and it
only hangs for four days. The chances of selling out will be much more

The cost of love

Two years ago my husband had a serious accident and was nearly killed
while riding a bike. After months of grueling rehabilitation he
relearned to walk and eventually ride a bike. I was enormously grateful
for the cycling community who helped us so much during that difficult
time. It was his desire to get back on a bike that kept him going.

Eight months after his accident I designed Cupid’s Crossbow. Subtitled From the Seat of My Pants to the Bottom of my Heart, it is a very personal representation of my love and gratitude for the bike.

Cupids Crossbow - 2010 Artcrank Poster
Cupid’s Crossbow – Sally Cooper Smith


This year the bike brings me to a different phase in my life. It has
been a difficult year personally topped off by a long hospitalization (a
persistent spontaneous pneumothorax.) So, titled Better Days, this ArtCrank poster is subtitled The Road Ahead to symbolize my hope for the future.

It is always my belief that when we genuinely share ourselves others
pick up on it. Maybe that’s why last year’s poster Cupid’s Crossbow did
so well even in national design shows, with acceptance in Communication
Arts Design Annual and Creative Quarterly design review.

Will Better Days do as well? I don’t know. But I feel the same kinship with the image that I did with Cupid’s Crossbow. I’ll post a comment to this blog after the show to let you know how it goes.

Freedom is not a license for chaos

ArtCrank places no restrictions on a designer except theme and size.
We have no one to please but ourselves…and a bicycling-friendly
consumer. That’s rare in our world. (Everything Cooper Smith &
Company creates is strategically built to support a discerning client’s
brand and business goals.) For over a month, we design and tweak, then
redesign and critique, then tweak some more. In the end, we rarely feel
like we’re finished, we just run out of time to tweak any more.

Better Days …. Ride DSM
Better Days – Sally Cooper Smith . Ride DSM – Robin Wasteney
Spoke Folk .
Spoke Folk – Matt Dirkx


As we’re working, our thoughts continue to circle back to “will any
one else like this thing enough to pay real money for it?” We believe
great ideas, beautifully produced sell. Art is full of a lot of fuzzy
thinking, but it’s true, getting someone to pay for it, focuses you. For
me, ArtCrank gives me the opportunity to focus on how I’m really
feeling. It is delightful to discover that others feel the same way.

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