As the holiday season approaches, shoppers are looking for the perfect, one-of-a-kind gift. Mallory Shotwell, director and founder of Cultivate, hopes to showcase local artists and businesses that can offer just that.
For the first time ever, Cultivate, a nonprofit arts and education organization in Grand Rapids, is offering a local artist vacation guide. This inaugural publication will feature area artists and small businesses within a 100 mile radius of the city in a comprehensive list of creators.
The Holiday Guide will be available online and in magazine form and Cultivate hopes to reach between 250,000 and 375,000 readers. The physical copy will be available at local businesses such as hotels, artists’ markets, tourism agencies, and interior design firms.
Shotwell said she hopes to recreate that childhood feeling of excitedly flipping through a toy catalog and scratching up the pages that stand out. “But for adults who want to buy local art,” she added. “(Just) flip through it and (say) ‘Oh, that’s beautiful. I want this,’ and circle it, but you’re an adult.
So far, Shotwell says more than 115 artists have applied (for free) to be included in the holiday post. She said “all and all” types of artists are encouraged to apply. Depending on demand, the organization accepted everything from fine art and homewares to clothing and bath and body items like soaps and lotions.
Currently the range of artists includes paintings, stone jewelry and even local musicians, as well as shops and art galleries in the Grand Rapids area and a map of every art fair and market.
“One thing we’ve really noticed is that there are so many different options for where to find arts events in town,” Shotwell said. “There are many different ways, but one of the ways we hope to connect and support is to provide this one list where people don’t have to search for five or six different sites. They have a central location.
With this comprehensive guide, Shotwell and the Cultivate team hope to keep holiday shopping local and connect shoppers directly to artists.
She said the guide is for anyone who “wants to support local (arts/business) but doesn’t know where to start and maybe a market seems overwhelming. It’s something you can easily do with a comprehensive guide from the comfort of your home, instead of going to Target, if you want.
“I really think people often don’t know where to start. So (we) create this sense of engagement where people have this connection with amazing galleries and shops in the community and share both the artists and their work and their process.
The magazine will include artist information such as company or artist name, website information that will be linked in the digital version, and a photo of their work.
Shotwell said the magazine will be “categorized by different things, whether it’s stocking stuffers or fine art, clothing or jewelry, and people can easily sift through and find exactly what they’re looking for.” ‘they want a local artist less than a hundred kilometers away’.
According to Shotwell, this publication is expected to be an annual offering, joining Cultivate’s list of local magazines and guides that the organization will launch over the next year, including a resource publication for artists.
Often, Shotwell said, artists trying to support themselves don’t know how to get started or how to approach the business aspects of marketing themselves and their product, managing funding and successfully reaching an audience. Cultivate’s Holiday Guide, among other initiatives the organization is planning, will help artists and creators who own small businesses in the region connect with people looking for their products.
“Like any family store, like any brick-and-mortar store, we (artists) are hard-working, independent business owners,” she said. “Often the arts can be seen as an easy career where we just sit and paint all the time. But really, there’s a lot of amazing business and a lot of work that goes into it and (we have to) really value that, like any other small business, whether it’s a plumber or a lawyer with a private practice.
From Shotwell’s perspective, taking the time to value and support local creators and artists is also important to the economy.
“It’s really (not only) keeping money in our local economy, but it’s also keeping money in our Creative the economy, and it keeps that economy and those businesses alive,” she said. “And it has such an incredible ripple effect where not only are people empowered within their own small businesses or their own homes or the studios they work in, but they also inspire new artists who felt maybe be able’ don’t.
The first Cultivate Holiday Local Artist Guide will be curated entirely by the Cultivate team and will be available digitally on November 5 and in print on November 12.