Justin Gignac and Christine Santora: Get the picture

When artists Justin Gignac and Christine Santora want an iPod, they simply paint it – and sell the canvas for the same price. Charlotte Philby talks to a couple with a creative take on economics

What do you do if you really want something, but you just can't afford it? If you're New York-based couple Justin Gignac and Christine Santora, the answer is easy: you simply paint a picture of the thing you want, sell that painting for the price of the thing it represents, and use the profit to buy whatever it is you were after. Don't believe getting what you want could be that straightforward? Just visit the pair's online gallery and shop at www.wantsforsale.com for evidence that I want does get.

Since launching their website two years ago, the creative pair have transferred a whole range of items from their "want" to their "got" list. Among these are luxuries including dinner at Nobu, and a pair of gold aviators, and less tangible desires, such as a good night's rest. "Sleep was one of the things we were deprived of when we first started this project," explains Christine, 25. "So we painted a few Zs on a canvas, and asked visitors to buy us some much-needed bedtime."

As this example shows, wantsforsale isn't just about making money to accumulate stuff. The "Sleep" painting didn't cost the buyer anything, but just shifting the piece gave the couple enough of "a sense of achievement" that they could sleep easy for the next couple of nights. It is "sales" like this that makes the project really worthwhile, Christine explains, speaking from her and Justin's apartment in Greenwich Village: "More than anything, it's about having fun with art." While making the cash to buy little extras is a bonus for them, the project is also a record for this young couple. In years to come, it'll be fun to look back and see the things we wanted at this point in our lives," says Justin, 28.

The idea of wantsforsale started out in 2007 as a creative personal project. Yet, within two weeks of launching their website, the couple had sold their first eight acrylic paintings, and had received 40,000 online hits. After another successful few runs, the potential of what they were doing become strikingly apparent. "We don't know exactly who buys our work," says Justin. "But we have customers in Europe, Canada, South America, Asia, and realised that we could be making a hell of a lot of money for people who really need it, if we set our sights that way". To this end, the couple applied their want formula to fund-raising. "First off, we sold a picture of a toilet bowl for $1,000, which is how much a particular charity needed to develop a sanitation system for people without one in India." Since then, the couple has raised $5,000 for various charitable causes.

Furthermore, the project has been used as a political weapon. "We drew a series of paintings of Barack Obama during the electoral campaign," says Justin. "Anyone who donated $100 to Obama's cause, through us, would get one of these limited-edition prints." One Frenchman was so taken with the idea that he raised $2,300 for a painting. All in all the pair amassed $7,500 for team Obama. "It was quite an achievement," Justin says. "After that, a lot of people wrote to us after that to thank us for not drawing John McCain".

Despite their success as political campaigners, the couple insists the project remains an artistic rather than social endeavour. For good or for bad that may be, but one thing is for sure: their fundraising tactic brings a literal new meaning to the term political canvassing.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst - Tunbridge Wells - £30,000

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Junior Test Analyst/Systems Administ...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - .NET, C#

    £40000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Global Real Estate Software P...

    Recruitment Genius: Drupal / PHP Developer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity for a talented...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Technical Support Engineer

    £17000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continuing growth, recru...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us