How and Why Bartering Works

As the economy fails to enrich the workers supporting it, we seek new ways for people to thrive from their hard work.  Workers from all walks of life offer skills and experiences but don't always see their talents respected or rewarded.  A barter network offers an alternative to the cash-strapped economy.

Artists and journeymen alike navigate the contemporary challenges of a livable wage and fair compensation. Trade4Art offers participants access to a richer life than the current cash economy is able or designed to provide. Trade4Art reflects the value added, value needed of Trade4Art members.  The true currency in the barter exchange is trust.

In the US, barter networks already exist, both locally and nationally, such as the Barter Network.  Many of us already engage in some sort of barter exchanges, sometimes helping family, neighbors, or colleagues not for cash but for help, goods, or services in return.

The old ways of organizing won't cut it anymore.  This is no longer an economy where each successive generation fares better than the last. For us to fare better, we must be innovative, creative, and community-minded.

Treating people like numbers doesn't work.  Bartering succeeds because individuals achieve their goals by connecting with other individuals.

Belonging is our chief cultural deficit.  Many people are denied the full belonging, respect, and dignity of cultural citizenship.

Baltimore is home to lots of talent and skills, but also to economic inequalities and practices. Opening the channels of exchange to the direct sharing of personal products and skills between individuals is a democratic model, one that capitalizes on active, personal relationships and bypasses the generic and passive voice of money.

How this Program Works

Trade4Art is free and open to all artists and journeymen. Simply contact us to join, and we will advertise your skills and services to others in the network and to the broader Baltimore community. Members can browse and shop from the artist or journeymen pages on our site, and contact other members to initiate a barter exchange of their work for someone else’s.

There is no obligation to accept a request; members are free to negotiate the specific terms of each exchange. In the spirit of community and trust, we encourage members to undertake exchanges without the use of cash, but an exchange that is part barter, part cash is also possible.

Additionally, Trade4Art is underway with building one or more teams of artists and journeymen. Teams will collaborate on renovations or other projects that involve artists’ live/work, residential, community, or commercial spaces that need to be brought up to code, or just need an upgrade or a facelift to improve function and design. These teams will combine the skills, experience, and vision of artists and journeymen, negotiating affordable options through the barter network.

sign up here

How to Initiate a Barter

First, sign up and join the Trade4Art network (link above). Once you have submitted the form, including name, profession, email, website, an art image or business logo, we will add you to the appropriate artist or journeymen page of our site.

Once you are on the T4A site, you can browse and shop the site for artists or journeymen who also participate. When you need or desire art or trade services, you can directly contact the artist or journeyman and negotiate the exchange.

Exchanges can be 100% cash-free, or a negotiated split of barter and cash.

Exchanges could also include training, where artists or journeymen exchange basic how-to lessons, i.e. learn photography for some plumbing work, etc.

Trade4Art participants can also agree to offer or accept T4A gift certificates, allowing more flexibility in scheduling the exchanges.


1. Does it cost anything to join T4A?
No, participation is free and open to all.

 2. If I join, and someone contacts me for some of my art or services, am I obligated to say yes?
No. Trade4Art is premised on a cash-free exchange of goods or services, but participants are free to negotiate the specific terms for each exchange.

3. Is barter legal in the US?
Yes. The IRS considers barter a perfectly valid form of exchange for goods and services. They interpret it exactly as they do exchanges involving cash.

 4. I am both an artist and a journeyman, can I offer both through Trade4Art?
Yes. We have met several people who work in both the arts and the trades. We will advertise both of your specialties to our members.

 5. Do exchanges have to happen at the same time?
Preferably, but not always. If the needs don’t happen at the same time, a member could accept a gift certificate for the network to use at a later time.

 6. I would like a how-to tutorial, not a good or service. Is that possible?
Sometimes. Some members are open to exchanges that involve teaching each other instead of swapping goods/services.

 7. To join the network, do I have to have a logo or a website?
No. We can advertise your work with just your name, art medium or trade skill, and your contact information.