Recently, I was approached by Derek Stewart about the possibility of interviewing Dayna Melton, the Showcase Director of RAW Columbus, as the organization has held several shows recently and will be hosting another one June 24 7:00-11:00 at ShadowboxLive
Since I knew several artists who were participating in the shows, I agreed and have been in touch with Dayna via e-mail as our schedules have not coincided when she is actually in Columbus.
Let me give you some background on this young lady first!
Dayna first got involved with RAW artists as a participating artist. Born and raised in Atlanta, GA , she attended Kennesaw State University’s School of the Arts and obtained a BFA with a concentration in drawing and painting. Shortly after moving to the Los Angles area, she was approached by the Orange County Director of RAW to showcase her line of flasks called “Foxboxes”. Although initially hesitant because she was currently unemployed, she dove in head first with a ‘now-or-never’ attitude. I’m not going to lie – selling tickets was difficult for me. I didn’t really know many people in California yet, but I wanted the chance to expand my business locally so I took the opportunity hoping I could sell my tickets, but prepared to pay the balance if I couldn’t. To my surprise, (not really because I’m a hustler, I just want you all to know), I was able to sell all of my tickets to friends and family back home who wanted to “sponsor” my event, along with a few sold to the people I had recently met in LA.
She had a great time at the showcase and sold more things at the RAW show than at any of the other craft fairs she participated in in Georgia or California. She was very pleasantly surprised! After this show, she reached out to RAW about possible internships or employment and got called back and was hired on as a Director in November of 2013. She says:
I love my job because I get to work with lots of artists and I love meeting new people, especially ones that are just as passionate about the local arts community as I am. I am constantly inspired by everyone that I come into contact with. I am not a local Columbus native, but I feel very home when I am there every month for work. Reminds me a lot of my hometown actually. The people are friendly, helpful, and accepting. Columbus is very charming and I am lucky to have been assigned to this location. I don’t know for certain if I was assigned Columbus on purpose or by chance, but it was a good call. 😉
As the showcase Director for RAW Columbus, she wears MANY hats with her roles spanning from scouting and booking artists for the show, being the main point of contact, curating/installing the shows, ordering equipment, supervising all things production related, PR, promoting the events, social media, managing 30-40 artists per showcase and her awesome staff, among other things. Although it is a lot of work, she thinks that most of it is natural for her because she is a visual artist and knows what she would want in a show. Therefore, she is always walking in other people’s shoes and trying to anticipate the needs of all of the artists.
Next, let’s get some background about what the heck RAW really is!
RAW is not an ordinary art show! RAW is an international arts organization for artists by artists. RAW provides a platform for up and coming artists within the first 10 years of their carriers to showcase their work in a unique and alternative environment, while networking with other artists and industry professionals. The organization showcases every genre of art including, fashion designers, accessories designers, visual artists, photographers, film makers, performing artists, musicians, hair stylists, make up artists, and anything else that is creative and cool.
She states that her goals for Columbus are simple: to build a reputation for RAW Columbus as somewhere artists can showcase and sell their work while obtaining new connections and exercising their ability to market themselves independently. As visual artists (myself included) we have to be able to put ourselves out there and be comfortable with being proactive in the community. RAW wants to provide artists with an alternative way of showcasing their work locally and internationally.
Their management team scouts and negotiates partnership agreements with several venues. Being that these events showcase so many different genres of art, the venue needs to be dynamic in nature, appropriate for all of their craft categories. For that reason, they work mainly with music venues or theaters. The initial event was at Skully’s, and while in a prime spot in the Short North, the show needed more space for our artists so RAW moved over to Shadowbox Live… “AND WE LOVE IT!”
Dayna and her production assistant, Austin Willman, do all of the planning, promotion and production for the event. The day of the show they arrive before any of the artists, and are usually the last ones to leave making for a long but worthwhile day! Typically, the event begins with a short film screening, and then moves into live music, fashion shows, and performing artists. There is a pop -up art gallery with chain link fencing panels that serve as free standing walls for artists to hang their work. Other artists may have a different set up/ For example, hair and make-up artists usually have live demonstrations or have roaming models. Basically as the stage acts shift throughout the night, the art gallery is ongoing that leads to an awesome collision of all types of creatives.
RAW is constantly scouting for new artists of all genres and are always accepting submissions. What Dayna personally looks for are artists that are dedicated and passionate about their work and their role within the arts community. They obviously need to be talented and have that RAW edge that the organization wants to promote. Consistency is also important, but it’s okay if the artists are still working on defining their style… “we have all been there (sometimes that takes years of creating)”. So professionalism, commitment and talent are definitely the most important attributes to being featured!
Dayna states that:
Our shows are a great starting point for artists that are looking for the chance to show their work for the first time. However RAW also serves as a good source for established artists that are looking to branch (out) outside of Columbus. We’ve been happy to accept artists that have never had a show in the past, and we’ve had artists showcased that have been doing this for 20 years and just love the environment, exposure and platform. We try to be all inclusive, even though our focus is on the newer artists.
Our showcases are ticketed events. In order to participate, artists are required to sell 20 tickets to the event. By promoting themselves and the show, we build a guaranteed audience, together. These tickets are $15 a piece and basically go towards paying the artist’s participation fee. Promotion is a team effort. We are essentially crowd funding the event. For the artist it’s a $300 commitment, but if artists are able to sell all of their tickets, they pay nothing, essentially knocking $15 off their showcase fee, one ticket as a time.
AND RAW takes 0% commission from anything artists sell at the events.
You may ask, what are the benefits of participating in these events? Well, Dayna enumerated them for me:
- The chance to network with other creative individuals and industry professionals as well as be involved in an international coalition of artists across the world.
- The local exposure is always nice.
- The media kit we offer witch includes a “Behind the artist interview”, and professional photographs of your work/performance/collection and yourself.
- Artists receive permanent online portfolio placement. It can also serve as a local directory for anyone looking for Columbus artists near by. You can also change and edit your profile as freely as you like after you are booked for a showcase.
- Social media promotion before, during, and after the event. Personally, I like to represent current and alumni artists anyway I can. So I tell artists to keep me informed on their careers and any events they do outside of RAW to promote them. We also provide a digital flyer for each artist to help them promote and all the ticket sales are done online through the profiles. It’s all digital, so it is super easy!
- There is anywhere between 300+ artistically interested people at each event. Since there are so many different walks of creatives at this event, there is the same variety in our attending audience. So it’s an opportunity to gain new fans, eyeballs, sales and clients.
- Opportunity to be commissioned or placed in other galleries, it’s not guaranteed, but it has happened to many of our artists.
- Also after you do a local showcase and sell the 20 tickets, you have the opportunity to showcase at one of our out of state locations and are NOT required to pay or sell tickets to that second show. And you still get the media package benefits. Although you will be required to pay for your own transportation etc. This gives artists the chance to widen their market in another state or country even. We have locations in 60 cities across the globe including the U.S, Canada, Australia and the U.K.
The last question I had for Dayna was one that many of you are probably MOST interested in 🙂
How does one get involved in a RAW showcase?
We are always excepting submissions to showcase! It’s super easy. Artists can go to our site to submit. You will first be asked to register an email and password on the site. Once you have registered you have to log back in to create a profile to submit work. Artists will be asked to upload some examples of their work and fill in a few questions about themselves and their work. It all takes about 15 minutes. Once they hit “submit” it shoots over to me so we can review their work and see if they are a right fit for our showcase! Since we do bi-monthly show cases there is always plenty of chances for different dates if one date doesn’t work for someone.
You can submit directly here: www.RAWartists.org/register
Make sure you select Columbus as your RAW market so it gets sent to the right person. Hint: I’m that person 😉
The tentative date for the next RAW in Columbus is August 13th so if you are interested in participating, get in touch with Dayna ASAP!
Also, Dayna DOES still create her own works of art.
I still create my flasks and do festivals quite frequently outside of work. The best place currently to see my work is probably on instagram and Facebook. We have a website, but we are currently doing some restructuring and building the site to be our online store so it is kind of bare. You can check out Foxboxes on Facebook at www.facebook.com/foxboxes and on instagram @Foxboxes
I also take custom orders for weddings, or just individuals as well. 🙂 All inquiries can be sent to me flask related at firstname.lastname@example.org