Big designs on letting our artists shine
New retail spaces, markets, events and competitions across Adelaide are giving emerging artists the opportunity to showcase their talents, reports KATIE SPAIN.
MAKING head- turning creative masterpieces in the privacy of a home studio is one thing, but finding a wall on which to exhibit work can be challenging for emerging artists.
Wedging a foot firmly in the retail door can be even more daunting.
Fortunately, new retail spaces, markets, events and competitions across Adelaide are closing the gap between artists and buyers. There’s plenty of local talent out there – if you know where to look.
Illustrator Doris Chang uses online marketplace Etsy to sell her watercolour pieces but says face-to-face interaction is most rewarding. “Adelaide is a very supportive place to be for creative people,” said the 22year- old from Tranmere.
“I’ve been drawing ever since I had hand-eye co-ordination but haven’t been in the scene all that long. I’m just starting to meet people in the same industry and network with like-minded people.”
Joslin Koolen, designer of the PLANT CULTUUR vessels and stands, displays her work at new creative retail space Brick+Mortar.
“It takes so much passion, belief and perseverance to establish an amazing platform such as Brick+Mortar,” said the 38-year-old from Semaphore, who has a residency in the space during August.
“The best thing about Adelaide is the people and the creativity oozing from it.”
She said creative success requires hard work. “Don’t expect its going to land in your lap, and don’t blame Adelaide,” she said. “I’ve been there and its not a healthy place. Determine your own core values and stick to them.”
Brick+Mortar is the brainchild of business partners and friends Brigid Dighton and Elizabeth Donaldson who transformed the former Norwood Senior Citizens Club on George St into a cafe, workshop space and eight studios devoted to showcasing emerging talent.
“Thanks to people like Brigid and Elizabeth, the message of art, design and creativity is continuing to evolve as one of engagement, approachability and affordability,” Koolen said. “... it is further educating people about the immense value of a handmade, locallyproduced piece of art, design and products. If you want the best out of Adelaide then it takes all of us to nurture that ethos.”
The space is also a place for local creative folk to host workshops on topics ranging from knitting, using Facebook for effective marketing and how to use crowd-funding. On July 18, Chang will host a class in watercolour illustration.
“A lot of emerging artists are broke and time poor,” she said. “Every opportunity helps.”
For many entrepreneurs, acceptance into a collaborative community is also a confidence booster. LYNLEY
Slater, 50, from Seaford Rise said an invitation to sell her handmade Yellow Bird bags at Brick+Mortar was validation of the quality of her work.
“Flinders Street Market and its community has also given me an amazing network of creatives who helped me take my brand to the next level,” she said. “I have learnt so much about promotion, product development and display.”
It’s not all rose-tinted creative glasses. Running an artist-based business can be financially challenging and a labour of love, something Amber Cronin and Erin Fowler know all too well. The pair opened city-based creative hub The Mill in 2013, an independent venture run by artists for artists.
It houses more than 30 resident artists from a multitude of disciplines. Designers, dancers, writers, photographers, architects and filmmakers are free to create, connect and collaborate. Creative thinking and crowd-funding site Pozible.com was used to raise dollars to keep the dream alive.
“Grassroots enterprise is a really important part of the ecosystem here in Adelaide, and it’s important that the value of these spaces are recognised as stepping stones that lead to sustainable careers in the arts, keeping young people in Adelaide,” Cronin said.
“We feel lucky that we have been able to develop our business model while helping so many artists and small businesses ... but The Mill has now reached a delicate place for the immediate future.”
In May, they welcomed artistic directors and founders of Swedish contemporary dance company ilDance – Lee Brummer and Israel Aloni – as choreographic mentors for a fourweek Dance Residency program.
It was a big deal for the 14 local and international performers and choreographers involved but, for opportunities like this to continue, ongoing awareness and support from the public is crucial.
“With a program that’s expanding rapidly ... we currently find the business stretched beyond its organisational capacity, but feel hopeful that with the right support, and continuous support, we can expand into a more established, sustainable organisation ...”
Local Facebook groups, such as Freelance Creatives of Adelaide, are also a place for clients, customers and artists to connect and kick-start working relationships. They are also dedicated to sharing advice and opportunities with emerging artists.