FLAG helps local artists market their work in new ways.
People started talking about the importance of buying local produce more than 15 years ago, but only in the past few years has the movement to “buy local” gained momentum.
Art is like produce for the soul, and there is a new organization in town that wants to bring you the best local art. The Friends of Local Artists and Galleries (FLAG) is a visual arts advocacy group whose primary purpose is to create a more vibrant “buying” culture in the Chattanooga area. The group’s co-founder, Tony Roland, is a lifelong entrepreneur and supporter of the arts.
Last December, he created a workshop at AVA (Association for Visual Artists) for local artists on promoting and selling their artwork. He wanted more local artists to begin to think of themselves as business people, as artists working in the art business. Many of the attending artists knew each other or of each other, and were very happy to get together and discuss this issue. The workshop was on a Saturday, and everybody had things to do, but nobody wanted to leave. It was like a local artist family reunion.
Eventually somebody said, “You’ve got the names and email addresses of all the attendees, why don’t you send out a mass email and invite all of us to get together again?” This idea was put into action, and FLAG was born. Tony began by starting a dialogue with people in the community who are involved with the arts. He contacted local painter Courtenay James, muralist Kat Morris, photographer Steven Llorca and gallery owner David Jones. Together, they founded the organization and began planning a series of events designed to facilitate local artists in selling more of their art. Their monthly meetings quickly became weekly meetings, and the inaugural FLAG event arrived.
More than 60 local artists convened at the Chattanooga Workspace for the event “When Artists Unite, Great Things Can Happen.” The purpose of this event was for everyone to become acquainted, and to brainstorm ideas on art as business. The resulting ideas fueled the organization and inspired the second event, a workshop taught by Courtenay James on the critique process. In this class, the FLAG members learned how to critique, how to receive a critique, and how to benefit from a critique. The next class will focus on marketing and selling art, and will be announced later this week. The group has plans to create a Gallery/Artist Studio brochure that will be distributed throughout the city. They are organizing a series of exciting public events: Some of their ideas include a Halloween Party, Pop-up Art Fairs for FLAG members, and FLAG Flash Mobs with easels. The members of FLAG intend to double the sales of local, original art in Chattanooga within three years, and are working with the mayor’s office to make this an art-buying city. As stated on the flier for their first event: “There is a lot of talk about supporting the arts, but little discussion of supporting the artists who make the art. We are all about changing that…”
Find FLAG online at FLAGcommunity.org or fafacebook.com/pages/FLAG-Friends-of-Local-Artists-and-Galleries/593919957322005