RICHMOND, Va. — Plaza Art on Grace Street is making a bold move into alternative currency and it’s not Bitcoin.
The longtime purveyor of art supplies made an unprecedented move this week by officially accepting Experience as legal tender for its products. Many artists and designers in the local community have received Experience as payment for otherwise uncompensated internships and small jobs, and Plaza is attempting to increase sales by tapping into the previously illegitimate currency.
The company, based in Silver Spring, Maryland, has piloted the “Experience-for-Supplies” model at its Richmond location but plans a regional implementation if the initial foray is a success.
“This isn’t a charity,” owner Chet Michaels said. “Market research shows us that young creatives are increasingly paid in Experience, and the VCUarts community is teeming with 18-25 year olds who have loads of it. We estimate that the average Richmonder has earned $65,000 in Experience, and we’d just be leaving money on the table if we didn’t accept it.”
Displays throughout the store were revamped with split price markers conveying both the dollar and Experience cost for each item. Local artists were astounded to see that a complete set of Chartpak AD markers cost either $320 or “one week at an unpaid internship with a local agency, sending emails and handling mundane tasks while wondering why you got into this industry in the first place.”
Similarly, a pad of Clearprint vellum paper cost $38 or “that one logo your uncle’s friend asked you to do for his body shop and said wouldn’t take you long at all. The one where he gave you a Word Doc with a 72 dpi copy of the old logo and said, ‘You don’t even have to draw anything, just find something on the internet. Put the Road Runner on it; people like Looney Toons. What do you mean Warner Bros. will sue me? They won’t know. Shit, fine, do Road Runner, but change his colors to purple and yellow. Will that work, Ms. Attorney at Law?’”
While Plaza is eager to cash in on its customers’ Experience, there is one currency it refuses to accept. “We won’t take Exposure,” Michaels said. “Exposure is as worthless as tits on a bull. Or is it useless? Whichever. We take cash, check, credit, wooden nickels, and Experience, but Plaza will never take Exposure as legal tender.”
Plaza’s acceptance of this pseudo currency has perplexed many in the art supply business, with no competitor following suit. When the company’s suppliers and creditors were asked whether they would accept Experience as repayment of outstanding debts, the resounding response was “Fuck no. #BBHMM.”
Plaza Art is expected to go bankrupt by the end of the fourth quarter.