AUGUST 2019 — Big Cartel, the online sales platform for artists, goes offline and comes to life this fall with a weekend pop-up shop called Shop Indie inside our Drawing Room library. From 12-5 p.m. on Saturday, September 7, meet the makers behind popular Chicago-based shops and take home a one-of-a-kind souvenir.
Big Cartel makes it easy to sell work online. Since 2005, they’ve helped people from all over the world easily and affordably sell their goods. And this January, they appointed Chicago-based Anna Brozek to steer their online ship as their new CEO. We caught up with her on the first year in the position, who make up Chicago’s artist community, and who you’ll see with us next month.
Since assuming the role as CEO in January of this year, how’s the year been for you?
This year has been absolutely incredible. I really owe that to having a strong team of 36 folks each jumping into my vision for Big Cartel feet first. Being so open to change isn’t easy, but this team has made it a dream, and I think that just means Big Cartel is better for everyone, from those of us working behind the scenes, to the artists using our platform to sell their work.
How have you seen the demand for Big Cartel goods grow over the past decade?
Over the last 10 years, we’ve watched artists sell over $2.7 billion worth of goods through Big Cartel. That’s more than the GDP of Greenland! Should we buy Greenland? JK Greenland, you stay you forever! But I do feel like that number speaks for itself. There’s clearly a growing demand to buy directly from creators, and to avoid big-boxed-mass-produced-junk.
What are your experiences working in the Chicago market so far? How has the Chicago artist community embraced Big Cartel?
I moved to the Chicago area almost two years ago, and this community is truly something special, and has so much in common with Big Cartel. As a company, we really identify with the indie world’s DIY attitude, while still being fun, approachable, and accessible. That is everything I feel about Chicago right now. You get this amazing Midwestern work ethic paired with a world-class metropolitan culture, all bundled in a totally vibrant and livable place. Big Cartel and Chicago are two peas in a pod.
What is your advice for artists starting to sell their work? Would your advice vary by where artists are located?
The most universal piece of advice I can offer to artists starting to sell, is to treat it like a business. You don’t have to take the fun or creativity out of it, but you do have to hustle to reach new fans and make that money. The more work you put in, the more you’re gonna get out of it. For better or worse, the internet has become a great equalizer when it comes to location. The internet barely cares if you’re in Chicago, London, or Tucson – if your art is good and you’re hustling to make it a business, it can happen for anyone, anywhere.