Story by Brenlee Coates, photos by Dwayne Larson
Ask artists what the hardest part of their job is, and they’re likely to say it’s selling.
An unprecedented way to sell art has come to Winnipeg, exposing artists regularly to wide markets of art-interested people.
RAW:natural born artists is an international organization that hosts no-cost events for artists to showcase their work. The inaugural event in Winnipeg, held in April, kicked off the successful concept.
“I didn’t know what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised,” says director of the Winnipeg chapter of RAW and fashion designer, Lennard Taylor.
Over 850 people came through the doors to see the 40 artists’ displays and interact with the artists directly.
“It gives them (artists) a chance to interact with the public and for the public to interact with them, which doesn’t always happen,” says Taylor.
The exposure for the artists is invaluable in sheer volume, and they benefit from being in front of other artists’ fans.
Artists have no fees for taking part in the event, but they are on the hook for promoting the show and generating a certain amount of ticket sales. “It’s free for artists to showcase and we just ask that they sell tickets,” says Taylor.
Because the artists help cultivate the crowd, most of the attendees are already art enthusiasts of some kind and are happy to support anything that catches their eye.
“When there’s 40 artists all set up and displaying, you’re getting this huge mix of everyone’s clientele.
“One jewelry designer sold more in one night than she did in a three-day event,” says Taylor. “The atmosphere at the show is so overpowering, and there’s really something for everyone.”
An event will be held every second month in Winnipeg with 40 artists participating. The RAW:natural born artists organization aims to promote artists of diverse mediums, so a range of artists from the realms of film, fashion, music, art, photography, performing art, hair and makeup will be featured. A rotating cast of artists will help keep the event fresh for attendees.
“I would like to spread it out a bit, switch it up, have a theme,” says Taylor.
“Natural born artists is all about incubating new talent, so you don’t have to be a big name.”
Taylor invites submissions from artists to be part of the events and encourages even newcomers to take the risk of showing their art. Even “closet artists” could find a place in the showcase, he says.
Winnipeg’s next Natural born artists showcase is June 19 at LIV in the Exchange (140 Bannatyne Ave).
The event’s costs are reimbursed to the Natural born artists organization, but Taylor plans to donate any extra revenue from ticket sales to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg.
“The excess money from the community should go back to the community,” says Taylor.
The events will likely be aligned with a number of different charities as they progress – which is why Taylor said “yes” to the role of director for Winnipeg in the first place.
“I knew that if I did it I could give back to the community as well,” says Taylor.
Artists take home their full revenues they generate from sales at the event.
Because Natural born artists is an international organization with over 60 cities with their own chapters across Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, participants are able to take part in any other Natural born artists events worldwide once they have been featured in any city. “It’s expanding at a rapid rate,” says Taylor.
The opportunity for local artists to travel and gain international exposure for their work is a major draw for participants.
Interested artists may register at http://www.rawartists.org. Once an artist has been selected, his or her profile and original works will also be promoted on the international website.