Should you be a Raw Artist?
I had a decent opportunity working on a show recently with RawArtists.org. The Roseland Theater was the home to the show. Although there were maybe too many artists, the show went well and allowed for me to display some of my recent works.
For those of you considering working with RawArtists.org, I want to touch on a few things that I learned by doing this show:
- Think of this show as an artists market more so than a gallery showing. The booths are small, the space is crowded. You really aren’t given the opportunity to shine as an artist. It feels more like you are working at the Saturday Market, than an exhibiting artist. The crowds make it hard to speak with people and they literally shove as many artists into the space as is physically possible. Make sure to find out what you will be mounting your work to. I had a horrible time trying to ziptie my paintings to wire grid panels mounted a 1/4″ from the wall. If you work with the promoter prior to the show, you can make requests for a larger booth if it is available as well. My booth that is shown was one of the larger booths, though I was not able to properly display my totem pole (12 ft tall). I had spoken with the show organizer and was promised more than enough space to display it. Had I known I would not have the space, I would not have brought it.
- You may not get the exposure you are really looking for. Although there were thousands of people walking through the venue, they are not scouts looking for new up and coming artists. They are all the friends and family of the other artists working the show. Raw does some social media advertising, but when it comes down to it, you are the ones selling the tickets, they are not. I would imagine that the RawArtists group probably sells less than 100 tickets and most of those come from the friends and families of artists who forgot to pre-purchase tickets. The big issue that you have with this, is that the people at the show are there to support their artist, and will probably just peruse the gallery to kill time since they are already there to support their friend or family.
- Think of this as a nice way to meet other local artists. So far I have not really given many positives regarding the RawArtists.org concept, but I will say that it is an excellent way to bring the local art community together. I really did enjoy getting to know new artists and see the local talent from my area. The other artists were very talented and extremely friendly.
- They don’t make the musicians audition, and they should. I have to say that a lot of the music was really really bad. You may not think that it is that big of a deal, but at a show like this, it is a huge deal. The music people hear when they are looking at your art has a major effect on how it is received. I had a number of people tell me after the show, that had the music been more tolerable, they would have stayed longer. Some even said they were waiting for judges to hit a buzzer and have the acts removed from the stage because they were that far from professional.
- Does RawArtists.org sort the talent? I may be wrong, but as I walked through the venue looking at the art, listening to the music, seeing what people had been diligently preparing to present at the show, It became very obvious to me that RawArtists.org takes what it can get. If you can sell your 20 ticket allotment, then you are more than qualified to be at the show. Unfortunately, some people just have more courage than skill. I know that this sounds very bad, but there was a lot of work that was nowhere near ready to be presented at a venue like this. I saw everything from half painted sculptures, to pencil drawings on college ruled notebook paper that had been framed.
My conclusion is this: If you are looking for the opportunity to get to know your community, while getting in some practice on how to show and present your work, I would recommend participating in the RawArtists.org showcases. They are not horribly expensive to pay for ($300 if you cant sell your tickets), but they do provide you with experience as you prepare for a more professional venue. Don’t take a lot of work to show, you don’t have a lot of space. Don’t worry as much about making money, just worry about enjoying your time with the other artists, your family, and friends.