Commissioned ideas

Outsourcing ideas for an art show to Fiverr users

Art ‧ Self-initiated ‧ 2015

For an exhibition, I had no idea of what to do. I went to the sharing economy platform Fiverr, looked up for users who sold "ideas" and asked them to sell me "ideas for an art show". Someone sold me 12 ideas for $5.50. I've printed them out and sold them for more.



I was invited to an exhibition in Lille, France. The deadline was too short for a painstaking execution like in my earlier projects, so I looked at some things I was interested in:

- Art: In 1969, conceptual artist John Baldessari paid amateur painters to paint photographs he made. He called the series Commissioned Paintings. In 2015, where conceptual art is commonplace, I wondered what it would be like to outsource concepts.

- Business: When a market is created, everyone has similar ideas. But the company who succeeds is often not the first with the idea, rather it is the one who executes better and faster (Uber and AirBnb are prime examples).

- Design: As French taxis were on strike to protest about Uber drivers, I wondered if Fiverr was the Uber of design. Indeed, entrepreneurs friends used the platform for getting logos and brochures on the cheap. 


The idea came almost instantly: I would buy “ideas for an art show” from Fiverr users. I selected 5 of them who said they sold “ideas” and reached out with the shortest brief I could. Few asked questions, and a couple of days after, I had 5 answers for the $27.50 I paid.

The 5 sets of ideas I've received. For $5.50, some Fiverr users sent 1 idea, some 12.

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I picked Jaymack’s 12 ideas over the other ones because (1) I got more value from him, at $0.4 an idea (2) his ideas were sometimes very similar to pieces of professional artists I had seen.

I wanted to make as little design decisions as possible: my goal was to let the Fiverr-bought ideas’ shine. Still, I printed them out, so Lille collectors could buy them. Facebook motivational posters from the Analogue Research Lab, odes to execution, were the perfect form factor. Plus, they were themselves referencing anti-war posters so I felt free to reference them.

Mark Zuckerberg’s first post after Facebook’s IPO and the inspiration for Facebook's posters (source)


An art collector bought the series for more than 100 times the price of the original set of idea.

Later on, I stumbled upon Aaron Koblin’s Sheep Market and 10,000 centsin which he outsources a part of the creative work and also reflects on the gig economy. I was impressed by the liveliness and the scale of the end result.