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CraftWorks to offer classes for local artists

By Staff | Nov 19, 2010

CraftWorks’ core mission is to inspire lifelong creativity and connect with the environment, said Director David Lillard.

Through a new program, the nonprofit group is empowering working artists to promote their creativity and connect with their communities.

CraftWorks offers classes as part of its Advancing Artists program, which hosts workshops to support artists interested in producing their craft as a career.

“Working artists also help inspire lifelong creativity so they’re really an extension of our mission,” Lillard said.

Tara Sanders Lowe, studio manager for the program, said that artists who are “most committed to their art” may not have the know-how to run a business but have the drive to make a living off of their work.

“Many people, especially artists and freelance people, just don’t know the basics of business,” Sanders Lowe said.

Lillard said that there may not be a natural relationship between the right and left brains in artists, but perhaps they haven’t taken time to focus on the skill set to help them promote their work. He said often times, operating a business can be over artists’ heads.

“Business operations is really just a skill set to be learned,” Lillard said.

And providing information about running a business as an artists is what CraftWorks intends to do.

“(CraftWorks is) really just trying to be a source of information for the artist,” Sanders Lowe said.

The program not only offers classes every so often but will also feature an eight-week intensive academy.

The Advancing Artists Academy was created to focus on the whole artist, from finding out who they are, honing a public image and earning a livelihood. Eight to 10 participants will be selected for the “crash-course” and is geared more towards those who are interested in putting their work in a studio, Sanders Lowe said.

The academy, which starts Feb. 19, 2011, will boast courses about crafting an artist statement; business basics for art; writing to sell art, such as press releases and letters to galleries; writing for websites and brochures; photographing and presenting art; building a web presence and talking about the art in person.

The eight-week program will culminate with a student showing. Participants will price and hang their art as well as market the show. A pre-show will happen Friday, the night before the Saturday, April 9, 2011 opening.

“I think that’s a pretty cool opportunity,” Sanders Lowe said. “(The artists) will be coddled through this. As an artist, you’re usually kind of thrown into it.”

Sonya Evanisko from Shepherd University’s Department of Art will choose the eight to 10 participants. Teachers include Evanisko; Sanders Lowe; Craftworks Director David Lillard; Nancy McKeithen of The McKeithen Group, which helps companies write, design and market products; and Shepherdstown photographer Denny Crosby.

Tuition is $300. For more information about the Advancing Artists Program or to get an application for the academy, visit www.wvcraftworks.org. Applications must be postmarked by Dec. 28.

“It has to do with exposure, exposing people to the basics of business, marketing and networking,” Sanders Lowe said.