Little Free Art Gallery FAQ

Little Free Art Gallery
Project Overview DRAFT 

19 April 2012 (begun 16 March)]  

Note: All feedback welcome. The project vision continues to evolve, with issues yet to clarify and challenges to overcome.

What is your mission?

To promote art making and the love of art and art curation by building free art exchanges and using them to distribute free art locally and in the global community.

To build community and deepen our understanding of the world around us, as we inspire and help each other to make and share art.

To enhance our art experience by engaging: the "value" of original art; art-as-commodity; art-as-business; public art; graffiti & outlaw art; our relationship with original art works and their creators; discovering, acquiring, & curating original art in an age when most people never purchase art and experience art only as free images shared in social media networks like Facebook online or in other freely accessible reproductions.

What is the Little Free Art Gallery Project?

Locally, it is a grassroots movement that spreads by word of mouth as one then another person chooses to install a Little Free Art Gallery and use it to distribute original works of art for free in the neighborhood or community.

Globally, it is a Web-based membership organization for artists and art lovers, free to all to join and use.

On the Web, Little Free Art Gallery Project tracks which works of art have been donated by which artists, following them (on the project blog and map; via email follow-up, or by tracking RFID and/or QR code tags on the art work) to see where they go: stories to be shared online.

The Little Free Art Gallery Project can also download/stream new art works, video, and other digital media, to Web-connected Little Free Art Gallery kiosks equipped to present digital interactive multimedia art experiences.

What is a Little Free Art Gallery?

A Little Free Art Gallery is a box (weatherproof if installed outdoors) with one or more windows and a door that viewers can open, where artists exhibit original works that they intend to give for free to any art-lover who wants to take it.

The art works can be physical, digital, or both, depending on the capabilities of the installation.

Why would artists who can sell their works want to give away an original art work for free?

To take part in an innovative public art project that calls into question the value of an original work of art in a world where most people never purchase art and where they have grown accustomed to consuming large quantities of art and other media on the Internet, especially on Facebook and elsewhere in social media.
To help new potential patrons discover an artist whose work they may want to collect

To get publicity 

To increase sales. Sales of participating artists’ art works and attendance at their art-related events will increase as more people connect with and get to know the artists in their midst, after this easy, non-intimidating introduction provided by the Little Free Art Gallery.

An "an original art work" can be just about anything one-of-a-kind and signed by an artist. Artists whose work commands high prices on the market may choose to participate in the Little Free Art Gallery Project in ways that can enhance not diminish their ability to sell their works. This is possible in the context of events that draw media coverage, where the value of the publicity will outweigh the cost of potential lost sales of a small piece.

What is the business model for the Little Free Art Gallery Project?

The Little Free Art Gallery project relies on voluntary contributions of original art works, time, money, and other resources as it works to develop revenue streams that can sustain operations.

Little Free Art Gallery project provides free downloads of plans and specifications that people can use to design and built their own Little Free Art Gallery kisoks. The project earns profit from the sales of a deluxe printed and color-illustrated version of Little Free Art Gallery kiosk plans & specifications.

The project also earns a commission on the sale of Little Free Art Gallery kisoks designed and built by participating artists.

Paid and in-kind sponsorship programs, display advertising (on the LFAG kiosks and online) and licensed merchandise featuring the LFAG logo generate revenues, too.

Every studio, gallery, museum, retail location that sells art supplies and tool, schools, cafes, and other locations or organizations that serve artists and art lovers, can benefit from installing a Little Free Art Gallery.

What are the larger artistic parameters of the Little Free Art Gallery Project?

Little Free Art Gallery examines the relationships between artists, art-lovers, and the art marketplace, in an effort to understand what constitutes “value” in a work of art, what a work is “worth”, and who should be able to own an original work of art.

The project also addresses the issue of how artists are compensated for their work in a world where people expect to get all media, "art" included, for free by sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc. & etc., where they need many very good reasons to spend real money on any kind of media experience and don’t often spend any on “Art”.

In a series of Little Free Art Gallery installations placed in a variety of settings freely open to the public in communities around the world, artists invite people to engage with their art works in and take possession of an original work of art, for free, at no cost. The project thus serves to subvert popular conceptions of Art and Artists as remote and inaccessible due to cost or distance, and somehow separated from the ordinary people of the community involved in daily life, work, amusements.


Local project with a take one-leave one approach:

The Reading Room

January 15, 2012 - June 17, 2012
George Schneeman and Bill Berkson: On the Offspring, 1969 or 1970; mixed media on illustration board; 12 × 12 in.

The Reading Room is a temporary project dedicated to poetry and experimental fiction offering visitors the chance to take home a free book drawn from the overstock collections of several noted East Bay small presses, including Kelsey Street Press, Atelos Books, and Tuumba Press. Books and catalogs from Small Press Distribution will also be available. In turn, visitors are asked to replace that book with one from their own library. We look forward to seeing how the character of the works on the shelves evolves over the course of the project!

The Free Art Gallery

The Free Art Gallery is an ongoing art project consisting in providing art completely free of charge.
Works available are non-editioned, one-of-a-kind pieces and are completely free of charge without any other sort of strings attached. Because of the high volume of requests, interested viewers are only asked to fill out a simple form requesting a particular work or works, explaining the reasons for their interest. When more than one viewer is interested in a work, one request will be favored over the other based on an asessment of the viewer’s degree of sincere interest in the work. TFAG does not discriminate in terms of social hierarchy or influence.
The project was first presented at the Armory Art fair in New York in March 2008, and later at Mexico City’s art fair FEMACO in that same year.  In addition, certan works were given to specific individuals from the art world, including artists, critics, curators, and others, with a letter stipulating that they were free to do as they pleased with the free work,  and should they return it back to the gallery it would be immediately destroyed.
Olivier Debroise with one of the Free Art Gallery works, FEMACO, 2008
Olivier Debroise with one of the Free Art Gallery works, FEMACO, 2008
sample request
sample request

What does a Little Free Art Gallery look like?

A Little Free Art Gallery box might look something like a Little Free Library but with smallish works of art instead of books on the shelf.

Who is organizing the Little Free Art Gallery project?

Doug Millison began developing basic concepts for the project in his project plan, Bay Area Free Art Exchange (BAFAE), now known as Free Art Exchange (  
Little Free Art Gallery emerged as a focal point for BAFEA after El Cerrito, CA artist Heidi Rand read about Little Free Library <> and suggested that we could make something like that and fill it with free art instead. Doug, Heidi, and George McRae went on to discuss the concept which Doug has fleshed out in project overview drafts, this blog, and Facebook page.

Project Manager:
Doug Millison, El Cerrito, CA, USA

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