DOWNTOWN — Westside artist Dan Monteavaro is among a handful of artists from Los Angeles and across the country who are part of a credit card rewards program that gives them a portion of purchases made and helps them promote their artwork.
Dynamics Inc., which produces and manufactures intelligent powered payment cards and advanced payment platforms, launched the artist rewards program Thursday, which can be used through an electronic credit card called ePlate that consumers apply for. Customers can also apply for newly launched co-branded credit cards, or cards designed by the artist of their choice.
The ePlate credit card has a total of 52 reward partners, including the five new artists.
“What’s so unique about artists is they’re highly creative and they can produce regularly exclusive, creative rewards. All of our artists have painted or drawn exclusive artwork that’s available nowhere else,” said Jeffrey Mullen, CEO and founder of Dynamics. “We are creating a portal for artists they can go to.”
The rewards program is one more way artists can be creative in showcasing their work to build public awareness.
The credit card should fit nicely in Santa Monicans’ wallets given the city by the sea is home to so many creative minds.
As of 2011, nearly half of the city’s residents, or 37,000 people, made their living in the arts, said Jessica Cusick, City Hall’s cultural affairs manager, in an e-mail. There were 1,736 arts-related businesses with 10,579 employees, or 13 percent of City Hall’s total employment.
Cusick, who had not heard of the new credit card, said it was an “interesting, creative approach” to get artists more exposure so they can pay the bills. Very few artists make a living as an artist and have other jobs to help sustain themselves financially.
In Santa Monica, it’s challenging to establish yourself as an artist because all the emerging artists are on the east side of Los Angeles because that’s where they can afford to live, said Jan Williamson, executive director of 18th Street Arts Center, a nonprofit that provides housing and workspace for artists from all over the world.
Williamson said artists who are already established or further along in their careers can be found on the Westside.
“The biggest challenge is living here. As an emerging artist you rely on a shared network of relationships, access to equipment or workspace and you’ll find groups of people renting warehouse space together in downtown Los Angeles, and those kinds of things are prohibitive on the Westside or not even available,” Williamson said.
Monteavaro, who was approached by Mullen a few months ago, said the artist rewards program would get more people to collect original art. Growing up in South Bronx in the 1980s, he was heavily influenced by the urban landscape and specializes in a mixture of pop and street art. After he moved to California more than a decade ago, he started building up his artwork and name.
“What drew me more to [the credit card] was the fact it would make exclusive art work like signed prints, which I usually don’t do, and make signed prints more acceptable to people,” Monteavaro said.
He said sometimes art collecting can be intimidating for people and the rewards program is another avenue for people to have an original piece of artwork from their favorite artist. For the ePlate rewards program, Monteavaro said he made five prints.
If a consumer chooses Monteavaro’s work, for every $5,000 spent on the fee version card, which has double rewards, a consumer gets a $350 signed print, Mullen said. Consumers can either buy a free version of the card, or pay a $99 annual fee for the fee card. Awards are available on both cards.
When consumers sign up for a card, they can choose what artwork they want on the front of the card. Artists also put their artwork in the magnetic stripe on the back of the credit cards, Mullen said.
The artists are paid based on the percentage of transactions made by the consumer.
“On the fee version of the card, we pay them one percent of all transactions. If someone goes into a store and buys a $100 dinner, the artist gets paid a dollar,” Mullen said. “It’s revenue generating opportunity for the artist. On the no-fee card, they get half a percent, so 50 cents.”
It’s free for the artists to be part of the rewards program, and interested artists can go to www.geteplate.com for more information.
In the future, Dynamics hopes to engage artists worldwide and is also exploring a photography rewards program, Mullen said.