Yes, Covid-19 sucks! And Toronto’s artists have been hit hard by the cancellation of so many art fests and closures of all the galleries. So how to reach art fans and potential buyers? The organizers of the annual Artwalk series have taken the show online and created a digital showcase for the artists to upload pictures and details of their works plus online sales opportunities, too. Brilliant! Check out the website here: https://www.eventeny.com/events/riverdale-artwalk-online-show-and-sale-601/
FLY recently spoke with Kate Taylor, professional abstract artist and Chair of the Artists’ Network, who shared her thoughts about the show and the impact of Covid-19 social isolating on the participating artists:
Kate, the annual Riverdale ArtWalk is taking art out of the park and into art lovers’ homes via the internet due to the Covid-19 need for social distancing. First, how was the decision made to create an online presence and then, how challenging has it actually been for the organizers? It was an incredibly difficult decision. The Riverdale ArtWalk is the first major outdoor show of the season in Toronto so we were at the head of the curve in terms of deciding to go forward with the show or cancel it – it was not so easy to make the decision to cancel knowing our artists depended on this show for their livelihood.When the call was made to present the event online, how did the artists react, and have they generally been supportive of this exciting opportunity to reach even more viewers for their work? We made it VERY affordable to participate in Riverdale ONLINE and although many were “digitally challenged”, most artists took advantage of the offer. To help them see the potential, we hosted a Mother’s Day ONLINE show where we sold a number of pieces. Ultimately, we have been trying to encourage artists to be more active online for a number of years – we encourage our members to use this opportunity to increase their digital profile.
We have hosted a number of Zoom education sessions abut how to choose the right website, how to create a digital store, organic social media and paid Facebook ads. To address the isolation that many artists were feeling, we organized ongoing online networking sessions where 5-7 artists are put into pods with a board member and we discuss the challenges of working in isolation. We are now seeing more and more artists embrace the ONLINE store option which I think is a great thing. I would absolutely like to give a HUGE shout-out to everyone on the board but especially Marjolyn van der Hart who put together the 4 weekly digital education sessions.How can the artists interact with their fans and potential buyers? Each artist will have a link to the Riverdale ONLINE ArtWalk and to their personal store. We have provided the with promotional materials and also member artists will be promoted through all of our social media platforms plus an email blast to collectors. The show will run for the month of June.
With nearly 200 artists participating, the uploading of pictures & descriptions to the Art Walk website must have been a herculean task – who do we thank for all this online curating and uploading? We decided to work with Eventeny – an event management company based in the US. We worked with them to Canadianize the site, enabling local shipping, taxes etc. We are VERY excited to launch this new venture which will go live June 6th and run to June 30th.
As an artist yourself (pictured below) what specific challenges does an online art fest present for sales? Do you also see this as a great opportunity to reach even more potential collectors/buyers? I have now launched my own online store [www.katetaylorstudio.com/collections/136243] and it’s pretty exciting to see sales come in from the UK, the US and locally. I’m also embracing social media more actively (trying to be a bit of a role model for our members and the artists community. I have also launched a new webinar/podcast series called “Talking to Artists” – I do a live Instagram interview with artists who are doing interesting things either with their art or their business (or that I’m just interested in getting to know better). I see a number of artists who are doing consistent regular postings so that people start to look for them (Jessica Lin and Zoey Zoric are two that come to mind). I’m also an optimistic pragmatist…would prefer to meet people in person but that is just not the way it is right now so we adapt. I do think that many people are stressed about their loved ones, their finances, their social life; but many are also now working from home looking at blank walls that need art. The money they would spend on vacations or dinners out can be redirected…I hope! Any comments you’d like to add? I really appreciate FLY’s commitment to the community and giving us a voice to share what we are doing. If any artist is feeling adrift without a community (newly graduated artists, emerging artists) I encourage them to check out the Artists’ Network for resources, virtual exhibitions and networking.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS NETWORK:
The Artists’ Network is The Artists’ Network is a Canadian, member-led, non-profit organization
dedicated to supporting visual artists in their business practice. We promote professional development and entrepreneurship by providing educational seminars, juried exhibitions and networking opportunities. For more information, please visit www.ArtistsNetwork.ca
And here are the options for following the Riverdale Art Walk:
Online Store: https://www.eventeny.com/events/riverdale-artwalk-online-show-and-sale-601/
Good luck to all the artists involved with this year’s unique presentation of the Riverdale Art Walk – you can check out their work throughout the entire month of June – FLY thanks you for supporting Canadian artists.