Artists and arts organizations are invited to join a free movement that builds off Black Friday and Small Business Saturday to brand the Sunday after Thanksgiving as the biggest art shopping day of the year. Artists Sunday, a new movement to drive art sales and support the livelihoods of millions of U.S. artists, artisans and craftspeople, will premiere online Sunday, Nov. 29 at ArtistsSunday.com.
How do you start a movement? One person at a time. In Houston it appears to have started with Mary Ann Thompson, a volunteer helping get the word out for Artists Sunday. Thompson asked Jubilee owner Kristal Kirksey, whose popular women’s clothing store is on West 19th Street in the Heights, where to find artists. Kirksey referred her to me, I in turned shared Artists Sunday to the artists I know, and again here. Multiply these small efforts nationally and you have a moment.
Artists Sunday aims to piggyback off the well-known holiday shopping-focused days of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, to make the Sunday after Thanksgiving the most profitable day of the year for artists.
Christopher Sherman, a working artist who founded the effort, said Artists Sunday aims to help boost sales and exposure for artists – many of whom are now struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic — while also benefiting consumers who have had limited opportunities to purchase art at festivals, galleries and shows.
“The idea for Artists Sunday was born before the COVID-19 hit, but the challenges created by the pandemic have added new relevance and urgency to what we aim to achieve,” Sherman said. “Many artists made a living by hitting weekend arts festivals or presenting their work at shows and galleries – all activities that have largely screeched to a halt since March.”
I asked how the movement was progressing nationwide and in Houston.
“Artists Sunday continues to gain momentum in the Houston area and nationally,” Sherman said. “We’re now in all 50 states with over 1,500 participants, including 250 art districts and economic development agencies across the country and 1,200-plus individual artists.
“The Houston Arts District just joined as a partner and Sawyer Yards joined as a patron,” Sherman continued. “We currently have 66 artists in downtown Houston proper and in these surrounding suburbs including: Sugar Land, Bellaire, Pearland, Seabrook, Richmond, Rosenberg, Katy, Spring, Tomball and Cypress.”
I’ve heard from several artists like Debbie Gibbs who maintain studios in Sawyer Yards that plans are in the works to create an event around Artists Sunday. It’s a trend that is taking root nationwide.
“In times like these, artists are more important than ever as they serve as mirrors and windows — both reflections and paths forward expressed artistically,” said Gibbs, a Silos at Sawyer Yards studio artist. “Often an image can capture so much more than words and reach people in ways that words don’t. I hope people will continue to look for ways to support their local artists who have had less opportunities than usual to display and sell their work.”
Added Houston painter Caroline Z. Marcos of Wildflowers Studio: “I think it’s a great campaign of artists banding together nationally to bring attention to the wonderful pursuit of buying art.”
Artists, artisans and craftspeople can sign up for a free listing in the Artists Sunday directory, which helps consumers find artists by name, type of work and city, state and country. Links to each artist’s Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts are included in the listings.
Participating artists get access to a comprehensive toolkit that offers up advice and templates to support marketing and public relations efforts as well as e-commerce tips to improve and accelerate the sales process.
Non-commercial organizations that support artists are welcome to join the Artists Sunday Partners program for free. Qualifying organizations include local arts districts, state agencies, counties, chambers of commerce, national organizations, associations, municipalities and non-profit community groups across the country.
To learn more about Artists Sunday artists, partners, sponsors or to get involved, visit ArtistsSunday.com and use the hashtags #ArtistsSunday and #ShopArt.
Cohen is an artist and founder of the First Saturday Arts Market and the Market at Sawyer Yards. Find him at ArtValet.com for additional highlights and artist’s stories.