‘Every print I’ve ever made has sold but I don’t believe in flipping.’ Why Fin DAC’s limited editions come with caveat
You’ve got to be up pretty early in the morning to get your hands on a Fin DAC print. That’s not a metaphor. Previous releases have seen fans worldwide setting their alarms for 3am to be in with a chance of buying an artwork by the Irish street artist.
arlier this month, a sale of 24 one-off prints by took place over 24 hours, with one print released per hour. It’s a system designed to accommodate buyers who know Fin DAC’s works from his giant murals in Paris, Berlin, Milan, Tokyo, Sydney, Los Angeles and, most recently, Amsterdam where he has just completed a large mural outside Straat, the museum of graffiti and street art. The “24 in 24” print collection was based on the mural, but each one was hand-finished in a different colour. They sold for £1,450 each.
“I started painting about 14 years ago. Over the years the murals have got bigger and bigger to the point that they’re ridiculously huge,” says Fin DAC. “There used to be one of my murals in Cork, but that was painted over quite a while ago. That’s the nature of street art. It’s ephemeral.”
A wall commissioned by the Gibson Hotel in Dublin lasted longer, but he thinks that one’s gone too. Born and raised in Cork City as Finbarr Notte, the artist is now based in London and travels the world making enormous outdoor murals. Most of these portray strong Asian women. “I hit the ground at the right time,” he says. “I didn’t see many positive depictions of Asian women. It all seemed to be extremely negative. I wanted to paint them in a way that was not demure and not submissive, but with presence and power.”
Fin DAC describes his decision to make prints as purely financial. “I might sell an original canvas for £1,000 but its much easier to find 10 people to spend £100 on a print. It was a business decision and every print I’ve ever made has sold.” Now, his limited-edition prints usually start at £250 (€288). Each of these now comes with a digital construct that’s designed to prevent flipping. The world of street art, he explains, is rife with flippers: people who will buy an artwork purely to resell it at an inflated price.
“I’ve nothing against people buying and selling art, but flippers want to buy it for profit and sell it on quickly. For some reason, that’s encouraged in the world of street art. It has some kind of kudos. But I don’t encourage it.” He’d rather see his work go to real fans, the people who have supported his career along the way, for a reasonable price.
Each of Fin DAC’s recent works comes with a “time-stamped COA”. A COA is a certificate of authenticity that works with a technology similar to blockchain. Each time an artwork changes hands, the purchase is logged on a digital system. It means that people who handle the artwork can verify its authenticity and history. Auctioneers and dealers do this already by researching provenance and a digital system has the potential to make their jobs much easier.
Each work is also matched with a digital timestamp. This is designed to prevent the work from being sold within a year of its purchase. When you buy the piece, you register online to activate the timestamp. If you try to resell before the year has elapsed, it activates a warning system. Again, this is a digital system that replicates what traditional galleries have done all along.
Flipping is not a new phenomenon and reputable galleries have always protected their artists by being careful who they sold to. But the rise of online sales has changed the way that galleries operate and street art tends to operate outside the gallery network. “The majority of the people who buy my work don’t care about the COA,” Fin DAC says. “If you’re not going to sell, it doesn’t matter.”
There are some teething problems with the system. Last month Fin DAC’s 2021 collage Dragonredi Undertow 2 (est. €3,000 to €5,000) sold at Morgan O’Driscoll’s Irish Art Online Auction for €14,000. It was bought and sold in good faith but, due to a technical glitch, it slipped through the system that was designed to prevent resale within the year. Another collage by Fin DAC in Morgan O’Driscoll’s Important Irish Art Online Auction this month, Odettia — Hammer Blow #2 sold for €3,400. It was dated from before the introduction of timestamped COAs.
See morganodriscoll.com and west-contemporary.com
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