“It’s clear that innovation for innovation’s sake is not enough,” Max Kendrick tells Emily McElwreath on a recent episode of The Art Career (TAC) Podcast. Kendrick is the founder of Fairchain, a fine art transaction platform that aims to secure resale royalties for artists when their work is resold.
At its core, Fairchain hopes to rectify living artists’ failure to benefit when their work is resold for significant profit. “In other industries, there is no copyright over your own image,” Kendrick says. “But there are residual royalties. They were negotiated back in the early sixties. It’s because those artists, those actors, realized they had a lot of power.”
A self-identified career diplomat, Kendrick previously worked for the US Department of State as a Security Council negotiator. Though the art market seems a sharp pivot from Kendrick’s previous positions, he views his negotiation experience as a crucial tool to navigating the art world. “I think of myself as a foreign service officer and diplomat,” Kendrick explains. “It’s the mindset I bring to the problems I tackle.”
“Fairchain is a common framework that gives something to everyone in the art market. It creates new opportunities for each participants. As an artist first organization, it gives artists a bit more control over markets, especially secondary market. It reduces some of the economic risk that they face. Partially through the creation of a system for retail royalties.”
In the art world, there is not a universal system in place for resale royalties. The duo discuss a Robert Rauschenberg painting resold for 100 times what he had sold it for. “The painting would have been worth nothing if Rauschenberg had hung up his apron,” says Kendrick. Helping artists get resale royalties will allow them to benefit from secondary market, but also strengthen and sustain their careers.
Founded in 2022, the goal of TAC is to build relationships between artists and entrepreneurs, making both the art world and the art market more accessible. “Somebody on one of our other podcasts said, ‘bankers talk about art, and artists talk about taxes,’” McElwreath tells Kendrick. “Most of the time I’m talking about business practices with other artists. And that’s why I got started on The Art Career.”
Kendrick sees parallels in the complexity of the art world with global policy making: “The U.N. Security Council is a big map of overlapping circles, venn diagrams, interests, and influences – [the key is] figuring out what matters and what does not. And there is a surprising parallel, in many ways, to the art world and the art market.”
Kendrick’s mission to innovate the art world pairs well with TAC’s founder McElwreath whose aim is to demystify the art market. “In a ridiculously elite world, The Art Career Podcast is breaking barriers by letting its listeners sit in on candid, straightforward conversations with leading art professionals,” McElwreath says in the introduction to the podcast. A seasoned New York-based art advisor, she is deft in unpacking the innerworkings of the art world while uncovering both fact and fiction.
As the art market continues to appeal to entrepreneurs, candid conversations like this one can help newcomers and seasoned professionals alike identify opportunities and avoid pitfalls.