Black Friday has long dominated holiday shopping, with Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday glomming on to entice gift-givers to spend their dollars on deals and charitable endeavors both near and far. But what about artists?
Handcrafted items make for personal and meaningful gifts. Artists typically sell much of their work at art shows or festivals, and with the pandemic continuing to rage, restrictions on gatherings have translated into precious few opportunities to make sales and get their names out to the masses. A survey by Americans for the Arts notes that the creative economy has lost more than $14 billion since March.
“Art offers what we all need right now–a meaningful way to stay connected with family, friends, neighbors and co-workers,” says Christopher Sherman, who specializes in drone photography.
So how can artists stay in the holiday mix?
Sherman posed this question to himself after noticing a spike in sales of his work on Dec. 1, 2019. “I saw that and thought ‘Well that’s cool, and geez, there should be something for artists.’ There are thousands and thousands of artists around the nation who are independently trying to get their voice out, saying ‘Hey, buy from me! I have stuff for sale, too’ while the big box stores are shouting “Black Friday!’ "
What is Artists Sunday?
That spark became inspiration for Artists Sunday, which kicks off its inaugural event on Nov. 29, 2020.
Sherman and his team have provided a central location online for artists across the nation to promote their wares and bring greater awareness to their craft. More than 3,000 artists are participating, along with 400 partners that include art agencies, arts districts and chambers of commerce that want to showcase art that is happening in their respective areas.
A Few of the Artists Sunday Participants
Most of the event is happening virtually, but a few of the participants are planning in-person events. One such artist is Greg Davis, an Austin-based photographer and owner of Greg Davis Photography and Gusto Studios. Davis is part of the National Geographic Image Collection and says he specializes in documenting culture, the human condition and spirit.
“I put together cultural events for Texans,” Davis says. He pairs his international photography with music, films and more and takes the show across Texas to showcase other cultures.
"COVID put a stop to international travel, so we had to get creative,” he says. “I love what Chris has done. What better way to celebrate creation than the day of creation?”
Davis’ Gusto Studios will have COVID safeguards in place for its Sunday event, limiting the number of people inside at one time, requiring masks, and setting up some displays that can be enjoyed from outside.
Online shoppers can go to the site and search by artist name, type of art, city or state to find something that inspires them. The site also includes an activity page where artists can showcase any current deals or special promotions.
Seattle-based artist Melissa Misoda discovered the idea of Artists Sunday on Instagram. She is mainly focused on glass blowing currently, and plans to offer a limited number of bud vases for a special price. The hook for her was the price of participation: Nothing.
“The more exposure you can get, the better, so you jump on these opportunities, especially the ones that don’t charge you. That’s a big deal,” she says. “Sometimes cost makes you think twice about doing things. Having a free platform to promote yourself is huge. ”
Sherman and his team offered interested artists a toolkit with graphics that link them to the initiative and also how-to advice on marketing and press releases.
“Sometimes artists aren’t that great at promoting themselves, so not having to come up with the language yourself is big,” says Misada.
“I put together a whole marketing plan with their guidance and what they gave me plus I do a lot of marketing on my art already,” says Erie, PA-based artist Jay Amatangelo. “I plugged and played with what they offered and made a game plan.”
Amatangelo plans a special discount code for his geometric abstracts. “I will be able to track which orders come from Sunday and give better deals for those.”
The organic growth of Artists Sunday and the focus on spreading the word throughout the creative community appeal to him. “Artists aren’t competitors,” he says. “We help each other out. And if we all work together and find the people who want to buy our different things, that’s the point of it. I think (Artists Sunday) will keep going on.”
That is Sherman’s plan as well.
“We definitely want (Artists Sunday) to be part of the lexicon. We want that to roll off the tongue,” he said.