Back in the day, around 2000 or so, at Kuona Trust, artists would throw around this
term “cash crop”. “Hio ni cash crop”, artists would point out to each other knowingly...
humorously. It didn’t take long to understand what was meant by this. “Cash crop” was the
term used for art work that was created, quite quickly and clearly with the intention to make
some quick cash.
Cash crops were small, quickly done, not too much time or materials taken to make them,
not pricey. They’d be the kind of pieces that if a visitor stopped in at the studios, as they
often did, and had a little cash to spare, she’d easily be able to leave with one of those little
cash crops. Some artists always seemed to have cash crops, stashed away, set aside, on
the side – waiting to be unleashed as needed, as the artist continued in the creation of their
masterpiece. Some artists seemed to make cash crops on demand – when there was a need for
quick money.
Back then, cash crops were still hand made - hand painted or hand sculpted or hand printed
by the artist. So they were actual real artworks but in smaller scale. The cash crop has since
evolved and grown - the cash crop is now known as merchandise.
In many museums and studios around the world, from the most renowned centres of art, there will
almost always be an attached gift shop. In it you will find, postcards by the big names of the arts
– artists long gone and who’s work is no longer available unless its at an auction at one of the
leading art auction houses – umbrellas and pens and cups and more. Other than these works of
the old masters that you can then take home on a printed cup, most will also have products with
work from the current exhibitions – serving as a momento for show goers to take home. Most
guests will not be able to purchase any originals, in many cases, there are no originals to be
purchased, unless by the billionaires of this world, but surely even you and I can have the
pleasure of taking home a pen, with a small print of a favourite artist.

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