It’s rare to see a huge gesture made to help struggling artists. It’s even rarer to see that gesture made with no agenda — just grace and integrity. It’s just one of the things that make “No Commission” a rare gem, not only for the art world, but as a beacon of patronage — setting an example of humility and selflessness that every industry should take note of. No Commission is a commission-free art fair, a brilliant and inspired project from hip-hop legend Swizz Beatz, who partnered with Bacardi and The Dean Collection to support emerging artists around the globe. “It’s one of the most important things in the world to fight for the unknown artist,” Swizz Beatz tells What We Seee. “Because art makes the world go round.”
This December saw their seventh event, No Commission Miami: Take The Shot, which connected emerging artists with buyers during a two-day art and music festival at Faena Forum. The event featuring stunning live music as the backdrop to the biggest celebration of the democratisation of art in the world today — a welcome revolution that is long overdue.
Over the course of the event, 100 percent of the sales from the pieces go directly to artists. No small print. No strings attached. Creating a direct line of communication between artists and their customers and patrons, No Commission has put $4 million into the artists’ pocket.
Empowering Artists Around The Globe
Previous editions of the event have been held in Miami, New York, London, Shanghai, and Berlin. This year’s return to Miami, entitled “Take The Shot”, celebrated photography’s rich history and evolution.
“As visual communication dominates, picture taking has eclipsed other expressive forms of content capture as an important tool of contemporary storytelling, heightened further by social media. No Commission 2018 examines photography in the digital age by highlighting practitioners who have emerged as compelling narrators of our time.”
The theme of the event was not only a nod to the photographers themselves, it also spoke to the spirit of the event as a whole: encouraging artists to take the leap and providing support as they take the next step in their careers. For many of the artists featured at No Commission, not only did it provide an incredible opportunity, the approach of the event marked a meaningful change from how young artists are often treated. “This is such a great concept, where you give the artists empowerment,” photographer Adama Delphine Fawundu tells What We Seee. The ethos of the event fosters admiration and respect for the artist and their early work, something that’s often overlooked in today’s art scene. Hermes Berrio, one of the artists featured, did not underestimate the power of such an event. “As an artist, as a photographer, as a painter, what No Commission does — it’s going to be remembered for decades.”
Creating An Entry Point
But the democratization of art isn’t just limited to how the event supports and encourages new artists — it also makes art more accessible to the general public. With prints starting at just $30, art is presented at all price points, welcoming and speaking to an audience that may have felt isolated from the art world in other contexts. For those intimidated by museums and galleries — settings that often pride themselves on their exclusivity and imposing aura — No Commission creates a safe environment for anyone to explore, discover, and learn to appreciate art. The combination of art and music make the exhibition a space where personality thrives, an energetic and open atmosphere that is unexpected in the art world. It’s a way of letting everyone know that art is for them, too — that it’s for everyone. It’s a reminder that art makes the world go ‘round.
Humility And Vision
At the heart of this event is Swizz Beatz himself. Although someone who decides to set up an event like this — an event completely devoted to helping others and their craft —is bound to have a visionary eye and a humble spirit, his humility in person is still astounding. He teamed up with Bacardi because of their long-standing interest in — and support for — visual arts.
“For Bacardi, we don’t just bring the cocktails. Music and art has been a part of the DNA of the brand since 1862,” Roberto Ramirez Laverde, Vice President of Bacardi Rums for North America, tells What We Seee. “We created No Commission together with Swizz Beatz and the Dean Collection to make art and music accessible to everyone. No Commission is more than an art fair. Bacardi and the Dean Collection have created a global movement that is genuinely helping to shape and support artists’ careers.”
The event also featured a tremendous panel with Brendan Embser, managing editor of Aperture magazine, famed photographer Ming Smith, Tyler Mitchell, the first black photographer to shoot to cover of Vogue magazine, Deana Lawson, one of the most exciting and celebrated photographers in America today, and Hank Willis Thomas, the legendary conceptual artist.
At the center of this powerful group of creators and a star-studded guest list is Swizz Beats himself. Soft-spoken, humble, he becomes electrified when discussing his ability to help new artists — his spirit and vision vibrate through every corner of the event. Speaking to What We Seee about his own experience as a hip-hop artist, about discovering photography through his grandfather, and about opening up the art world to all, it’s clear that this is a passion project in the truest sense of the word, with no motive, no agenda.
“It started for me just not liking simple things in music, not liking the particular contract, not liking the way the artist is played up big — but being fed less,” he tells What We Seee. “And I’ve been in that chair so many times … why do we have to accept this because it’s been something that’s been going on? For me, that’s no longer an excuse — and that’s why I try to tell the artists… The creatives can change the game.” But what makes his efforts so unique — and fearless — is that he’s not just fighting for his own art, his own industry. He’s fighting for artists as a whole. No Commission, is creating a new paradigm for emerging artists, in every field and across the globe. The art world is changing — because some people have decided to change it.
To find out more about the No Commission, visit Bacardi on Instagram.
Friends And Family Of No Commission