Régine Debatty – We Make Money not Art

Regine Debatty www.we-make-money-not-art.com


Régine Debatty is geboren in België, leeft in Italië en is op weg naar Berlijn. Gaf les in grieks en latijn, maakte TV-documentaires en was ooit werkzaam voor de EU.

Régine Debatty leeft van haar log. Nummer 64 in de feedster top500. Winnares van een webby in de categorie persoonlijk kunstlog. Een van de weinige logs die je niet mag missen.



Een kort interview.

You make money not art is your splendid logtitle: ironic and to the point. But how much money do you make?

I make enough to live from it. It’s not a lot but I also get invited to cool festivals and workshops here and there in Europe, so at the end of the month, I’m a fairly happy gal!

You’ve got google adsense, blogads, a site of the moment and a sponsored place. What are the revenues from these services and for what money can I become a WMMNA sponsor?

Just a precision: the “site of the moment” is a totally free space, it’s a way to advertise young talents, interesting events, or works I like. I get no money for that.

Google adsense doesn’t really work for me. The ads proposed by google are not well targeted at all. I mean, I get ads for slaughter houses, plush frogs, vacuum cleaners, etc. Very few readers click on that!

Blogads isn’t a great source of cash either. I reject most of the ads proposals i receive: if it’s about loans, credit, products or services I don’t like I’d rather say no. So the blogads space is often occupied by an ad for petistic. I get no money for it as petistic is just a blog i’m working on with three friends.

Now the sponsored link does bring some money, it’s $200 a week and the space is usually dedicated to art/design/communication schools.

So how do I make money? I get invited to speak at events and to write for online mags, that helps a lot.

A log as sexblo.gs copy’s your entries 1 on 1 now and then. happyfamousartists copy your links even without a via. Does these ways of “information-sharing” bother you in any way?

First of all, sexblo.gs always mentions the source of every single post. It uses the reBlog system that does that automatically.

And well… It’s the first time I’m saying this in an interview but I’m actually one of the contributors of sexblo.gs. It’s my boyfriend’s blog and I think he’s doing a great job with it!

Back to your question: I’m awfully pissed when people repeatedly steal the stories without mentioning where they found them. It can happen once in a while (I mean I’m not the only one who’s reading new scientist or rhizome so others get stories before me). The blogger ethics is to always link to the source of a post. But some people just don’t bother.

I think that readers are not stupid and after some time they are bound to notice who’s doing an honest job and who’s not.

Btw, I quite like happyfamousartists so i forgive them ;-)

Because you write WMMNA on your own, there is a danger of fatigue. It’s a real danger because you make a living out of WMMNA: you cannot quit without at least some concequenses. Where do you think you and WMMNA stand in four years?

I write most of the stories but we-make-money-not-art has some wonderful contributors like new media artist Sascha Pohflepp and researcher Konomi Shin’ichi.

Sascha writes mostly about the German art scene and I wish I had more money so I could pay for his travels: he’d cover art festivals for the blog so that I could stay home more often with my boyfriend.

Konomi blogs about the Japanese art scene which I think is very important. It is important to keep up with what’s going on in other parts of the planet. I often buy books about new media art and the perspective is mostly occidental which is a pity.

I’m making a living of the blog but it’s also a wonderful way to have my CV out there. And i’m used to changing jobs very radically: I’ve been teaching latin and ancient greek, producing or directing documentaries, worked for the European Commission. So where will i stand in four years? No idea.

What I’d like to do is to be more helpful to young creatives, find a way to make their talent more visible and help them better communicate their work.

Are there some hightlights in WMMNA last year that stil make you smile. (I remember a time when you had nothing to write about media & art and started No Garlic Please for the more fashionlike entries.) What makes you go for WMMNA?

It’s not that I had nothing to write about media & art, it’s just that I’m in contact with so much “fashionable” stuff in europe, i thought it was worth sharing.

But I couldn’t get as excited by fashion and design as I am by new media art and bio art and wearable tech and the rest. I didn’t have time enough to dedicate to both blogs. I still have regrets, I really liked No Garlic Please.

Some highlights from last year?

I think one of the events that impressed me most was the 22nd Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin http://events.ccc.de/congress/2005/

Jussi Angesleva and I had been given the oportunity to tell hackers about the work of new media artists and the audience was awesome: very open-minded, critical and receptive.

I learned a lot from that conference.

I had been pleasantly surprised to be invited to guest-blog on gizmodo. I couldn’t blog more than one week because I like my own blog too much to share stories with other websites but I was happy that they offered such opportunity to 1. a girl 2. someone who’s not usually blogging about consumer goods.

New media artist Jonah-Brucker Cohen is writing for them regularly. Gizmodo is a rather mainstream blog but they asked him to write the “gizmodo” gallery: portraits and interviews of new media artists or interaction designers.

I don’t know how successful that column is but it is extremely well done and it was a brave move from gizmodo. Here’s a link to the latest gizmodo.com/gadgets/art/[…]sabrina-raaf-172890.php

Last highlight is that I got to meet people whose work I admire a lot: Jussi Angesleva, Julian Bleecker, Toshio Iwai (briefly because I was so star-struck that I couldn’t open my mouth in front of him), Paul Granjon… I’m forgetting many names here. And I met two of my favourite bloggers: Emily Turrettini and Nicolas Nova.

With all attention, a webby and x pageviews/visitors each day (please fill in whatever you want) do you feel like a star?

Noooooooooooo! Most of my old friends never read my blog. And we-make-money-not-art doesn’t have that many readers: 25 000 unique visitors per day. That’s wonderful but quite modest compared to BoingBoing or Gizmodo.

Then the blog is famous for people who like new media art but at design festivals for example very few people have heard of my blog. I’m living in Italy which is not a very new media art-oriented place. I’m about to move to a more exciting location but I doubt paparazzi will follow me to the supermarket there ;-)

You might not believe me but when someone whose work I admire tells me that he loves my blog I always feel like I’m a fraud. I find great stories, that’s it. The people I write about are doing awesome stuff and they are the one who really make the blog interesting.

Everyday you serve us lots of educated links (I mean with explanation/text), You have interviews, reviews, all original content. I am used to that now and thus very demanding: I expect you to update very often and with good links and stories.

Do you feel presure about having to publish, do the demanding expectations ever take its toll?


I feel a lot of pressure, but it’s a pressure I put on myself.

If I have to take the plane at 9 in the morning, I’ll be up at 5 to post one or two stories if possible.

And I have days when I’m totally depressed because I can’t find any interesting stories or feel like what I’ve published is crap. I can’t go to a foreign city anymore and relax, all I obsess about is going to art shows so that I can share what i’ve seen with readers.

I started blogging in March 2004 and haven’t had any real holes ever since. I spent most of last Christmas reading my feeds. How pathetic is that? [Sounds completely normal, JB]

Art is all about hypes and media art more then that: there are so much sponsored/government subsidised events these days – at least in Holland – that there are more conferences then artists. There is a danger of disillusion for a new audience.

I see a proliferation of new media art festivals all around europe. And there’s a lot of repetition, not always in favour of the best works.

On the one hand it’s great for new media artists, on the other hand the audience is not growing as quickly as the number of festivals. This doesn’t apply to every country, you lucky Dutch are spoilt with events, conferences, workshops and festivals! And I have always admired V2 initiatives and boldness.

In Italy we’re not having that much fun.

Reverb: a question from Régine:

I’ve got a question for you: you’re mainly writing about fine arts and I blog about new media art (or whatever is the name you want to give to it). Do you feel that they belong to different categories or do you think people should be given more opportunities to see a fine art piece next to a new media art piece more often?

Trendbeheer is about beeld, imaging, and includes outsider art, art that isn’t art as wel as classical pictures of an exhibition or internet based memorabilia.

There is a perfect place for (a prominent part) of new media art and that is the internet. I am sometimes even offended when I stumble about yet another computerscreen in a museum. I am bored by all the tedious video-art in musea: hey, you can stream that too! Offcourse it’s a different story if it is some sort of installation.

I don’t make a distinction between fine art and new media art.

I think one interesting part about new media art is that the artists have to find a way to present the works. You cannot simply put a laptop on the wall next to some paintings. In fact you can: Peter Luining did. trendbeheer.com/[…]peter-luining-art-rotterdam-2006/
But he wasn’t very excited about the result.

I wasn’t either but hey I had some nice pictures for trendbeheer.

Régine’s website:

About Jeroen Bosch 4713 Articles
Smaakmakend sinds jaar en dag: onafhankelijk kunstenaar, tentoonstellingmaker, trendbeheerder en oprichter art agent orange, artist run art agency. Eigen werk onder jeroenbosch.com Meer info zie trendbeheer.com/jeroen-bosch


  1. V2_ met fun associeren? Dat had ik niet voor mogelijk kunnen houden. (Een mens leert iedere dag bij.)

  2. Zie ook Bright nummer 9 volgende maand voor een Nederlandschtalig interview met Regine

  3. …zoals bovenin al gezegd; geniale titel. Die zin spookt al tijden door mijn hoofd bij het zien van veel “kunst”. Chapeau!

  4. goed verhaal! en erg informatief voor dodo’s zoals ik…
    sacha pohnflepp en shin’ichi konomi -ergens vermoedde ik al dat deze wereld bewoond wordt door stripfiguren!

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