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Artists Creating Their Own Opportunities

by Moshe Mikanovsky on 11/3/2011 8:54:54 AM

This article  is by Moshe Mikanovsky, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews.  An emerging artist searching his way in the art world, he loves to share what he learns.  With over 20 years of technology experience, Moshe combines his technological background and his passion for the arts with the goal of "working his dream".  You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.

A recent post Brian wrote about supporting your local art community by creating your own opportunities reminded me of Karen Taylor, a local artist. I met her through the local Artists' Network, she established couple of art initiatives, organizing several shows a year for each of them. So I decided to chat with Karen and hear how she's done it.


We met over a nice latte (I had a butterfly in mine!), and the conversation quickly evolved into the two groups Karen has established and is facilitating.


Abstract artists challenges

As an abstract artist, Karen saw the need for more exposure. Since starting, showing, and selling her art in 2007, she took on herself to enter as many calls for art as she can, as well as art festivals and other places where she could show her art to the public. But she still felt it was not enough, and she was relying mostly on others' judgment for acceptance. Feeling that most of these opportunities were for figurative art, seeing that the public does not have enough opportunities to be exposed to abstract art, and talking with fellow friend abstract artists who shared the same frustrations and need for more exposure, she eventually decided to do something about it.


SolidColour - the small group

With fellow artist and friend, Ben Stansfield (and next-door-neighbor to most of her art festival ventures), artist Kate Taylor (not sisters, just a coincidence), and artist Bill Philipovich, they created the smaller group of the two, naming it SolidColour, with the goals of showing their art together several times a year, in different locations throughout Toronto, with the abstract being the main theme.



SolidColour members: back from left: Bill Philipovich, Karen Taylor, Kate Taylor. Front: Ben Stansfield.



The benefits of being a small group are that it is easier to make decisions and keep control over the group's output. Moreover, each show depending on the location, of course, allows each artist to showcase a nice number of art pieces. And indeed, as time went by, and with the growing shared experience of the group, they became like a family.


The downside though is usually budgetary. Giving the economics of the day, a smaller group usually will have a smaller budget. Karen and her fellow artists were able to secure locations throughout the metropolitan that still were in their budget. From smaller galleries who are looking for new ideas for shows and are susceptible to emerging artists, to heritage homes where weekly rent is usually subsidized by the city, to other community galleries where they had been doing artist demos alongside the shows.


There are other benefits of course:

  • Shared newsletter lists from each artist to distribute invitations and invite collectors.
  • Brand name building. People tend to remember brand names, as we see with many art groups out there and in art history.
  • Sharing the workload. Whether it is in preparation to the show, marketing efforts or manning the event, being a group of four people can really reduce some of the stress and anxieties coming with arranging it all by yourself. Moreover, each one can pick activities they are better with or feel more comfortable doing than the others in the group.
  • Finding locations. Again, with the power of the group and its larger networking reach, finding proper venues becomes an easier task.
  • Learning from each other. Talking with Karen and with the other members of the group, I got the sense that they learn and evolve from the experience of being together, artistically and businesswise.


Colourshift Collective – the larger group

Staying just with the smaller group was still not enough, but going into the motions of creating a larger group was a daunting task, at first. Even though, with the assistance of photographer Scott Garant, Karen took the initiative to start the second, larger group, Colourshift Collective. Again, with the aim of creating showing opportunities and public awareness for abstract art, in addition to the benefits already mentioned above with the smaller group, some of the unique advantages of the larger group are:

  • More diversity in both participating artists and medium presented. The collective includes not only painters but also photographers and encaustic artists.
  • Opportunities in larger galleries, where the cost is much higher and can be divided by a larger number of participants.
  • Opportunities in venues that only work with group initiatives, usually of certain size and experience.
  • Ability to grow and add more artists in the future, while still keeping the smaller group with it's current size.


Colourshift Collective. Back from left: Scott Garant, Lisa Hickey, Kate Taylor, Bill Philipovich, Karen Taylor. Front from left: Joe Calleja, Janice Colbert, Sann Sann Lam, Laurie Skantzos, Salomon Khammi


From one of Colourshift Collective shows at the 1313 Gallery, Toronto ON


What was most challenging?

In closing, I was really interested to hear what was the biggest challenge Karen faced in seeing these initiatives coming to life. Without hesitating, her answer was "reaching out to people". Being a shy person, she always feels apprehensive in approaching people - other artists, the media, galleries.  Once she get over this hurdle, the rest is easier. Interestingly enough, looking as an outsider at these great initiatives, I wouldn't even believe that Karen had to face that challenge. And I am really happy for her that she perseveres against it and made it work.


I love the way Karen and her friends created these opportunities while enriching the local artistic scene, and are still going strong, with three upcoming shows before the end of the year. I am sure it will grow and we will see much more coming from these groups.


I hope this showcase helped you see how you can make your own opportunity in your local community. Do you have a similar experience making your own destiny?






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Related Posts:

Ten Reasons for the Professional Artist to Join a Local Art Group

Ten Reasons for the Emerging Artist to Join a Local Art Group

Topics: advice for artists | creativity | FineArtViews | inspiration | Moshe Mikanovsky | online art groups 

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Kathleen Krucoff
It's great to read about this happening as I feel it is happening in my area too, thanks to local glass artist, Nancy Bonig.

This year Nancy organized the Front Range Open Studio Tour involving local artists, opening up their studios to the public for a weekend. We had a great inaugural year and are looking forward to what 2012 holds.

One of the many wonderful things Nancy is doing for artists in our community is looking for those opportunities to educate the public about who is in the area, the quality artisans that live here (Monument/Palmer Lake/Black Forest Colorado). I'm delighted to join forces with her and help share the burden of getting things done as work on 2012 begins.

I think many artists are eager for these opportunities and it's great when someone steps up to get things rolling.

Thanks for sharing this story with us and it just confirms that there many creative ways to approach the business side of art.

Sharon Weaver
Hearing how a small local group has infused their work into the community is a great lesson. I hope that the sales have offset the costs involved with doing the shows. Getting your art out there is half the battle but not a guarantee of sales.

Donald Fox
Strength in numbers is more than a cliched slogan. This post should be of great benefit to a lot of isolated, struggling artists.

Marian Fortunati
Wonderful examples of people doing what they love, going beyond the limits which entering many juried shows presents and getting "out there". Thanks...

I wonder... aside from the benefits you mentioned and the satisfaction of showing the work, whether each or both was successful financially? I mean did income equal or exceed out go?

Moshe Mikanovsky
Thank you everyone for the comments,

I am not sure about the specifics of the return-on-investement, as this, like every other art career building activity, might be measured only in the long term rather than show by show. I am sure though that the groups' shows are successful in attracting buyers, as Karen mentioned to me that people keep following them from one show to another, and I am positive it will pay off in the long run.


Carol Schmauder
Thanks, Moshe, for your post. It sounds like the groups mentioned have had a positive reaction to the formation of groups. It is always good to have the help and support of like-minded individuals when trying to support an idea or a craft.

Latifah Shay
I am really interested in the idea of banding with other abstract artists. Partially b/c I too find that there are less opportunities and less awareness for our particular genre... Also, living quite remotely, I tend to get my art out there in a very independent way - I could use some camaraderie and support in that department. Thanks for your post!

Brian Sherwin
Perfect example of what can be accomplished. Moshe, thanks for sharing this story and info.

tom weinkle
Great advice Moshe. You always share something real world, that we can put to use easily.

Interesting post Moshe. I have been trying to find other artists in my area, Casa Loma in Toronto, to get a studio tour started but having recently moved here I am finding it hard to connect with local artists. I wrote to the editor of our local neigbourhood paper to ask about putting a small write up in the paper asking other artists who were interested to contact me but the editor never replied. Open Studio events are, in my experience, one of the very best ways for artists to market their work and a great community event. I'm still hoping to find some local artists who want to help get one started.

Moshe Mikanovsky
Hi Susanne,

I am not sure specifically about the Casa Loma neighbourhood, but I did find the site for the St. Clair artwalk, which also includes a studio tour. It is right next door to your neighbourhood. Maybe you can join in? Or contact the artists listed on the site. Check their website:

Hope this helps

Thanks Moshe. I do know about that group but it's just out of my area.
They prefer to keep it for people west of Oakwood and although I could be
part of it I don't think it would work as well as having a tour near to
Casa Loma. We get a lot of tourists going to the castle and could perhaps
get some of that traffic. You have reminded me about the group though and I
will contact them to see if they know of any artists in my area. Thanks
again. Susanne

Brian Sherwin
Susanne -- it often seems that the local newspapers can be tougher to reach than the BIG newspapers at times. My guess -- keep in mind that my fiancee works in the newspaper business -- is that the local paper would be more apt to cover it if you had some other bit of art news to go with it... such as an upcoming exhibit or exhibit in progress. What about Craigslist? I know Craigslist has a tacky reputation BUT I'm also finding that many artists utilize it to connect with other artists in their area. It might be worth a shot.

Thanks for your input Brian. I have had really good response from local papers in the past so I was surprised not to even get a no in reply to my letter. Your suggestion of Craigs list is a good one and I'll give it a try. If I keep searching I'm bound to find some other artists in the area.


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