Selling Art: Organization helps artists

Selling Art: Organization helps artists

By Anthony Pickens

A new organization is helping freelance artists connect with southern Illinois audiences that are interested in buying their art.

Amanda Lilly, the founder and group organizer for Local Artists SO.IL, said her group’s goal is to market local artists who don’t know how to promote themselves. She said she started her organization in January and now boasts more than 120 members. The group endorses artists of several mediums, such as painters, jewelers, blacksmiths and soap crafters.

Jonathan Barnhart, a painter and blacksmith from Anna, crafts knives, hand tools, bracelets and jewelry as a blacksmith. He said many of his paintings reflect wildlife, landscapes, fantasy, horror and still life.

In his home, much of his work reflects the fantasy world. His latest work is a shadowy portrait of a zombie chasing down a man, who has a shotgun and machete.

Barnhart said Local Artist SO.IL helps connect him with people he didn’t know how to get in contact with before. Finding people in southern Illinois who are interested in art are difficult to find, he said. The further he’s moved away from the Carbondale area the harder it’s been to find people interested in his work, he said.

He said this is his main barrier as an artist.

“It just seems like sometimes when you’re trying to sell art (in southern Illinois), you’re not getting an appreciation for it or there’s no interest in it,” he said. “You can take your time and make all kinds of stuff, but you then have to find an audience to show it to that wants to buy it. Finding that audience is sometimes the hardest thing to do.”

Barnhart said his work has attracted more people since becoming affiliated with Local Artists SO.IL. He said the organization does a good job of making him aware of more selling opportunities.

The group is different from most of the other organizations he’s been a part of because Lilly is passionate about constantly keeping area artists updated with business openings and art festivals, Barnhart said. Other art groups in the area may only update him once or twice a year, he said.

Lilly said some of the festivals artists are being exposed to are spring festivals, which include the Downtown Carbondale Art and Wine Fair, Alto Vineyards Springfest and Makanda Festival.

She said artists in the area just haven’t found much of an audience for their work in the area and the festivals are helping them to get more exposure.

“I’ve noticed artists just kind of get pushed to the side,” she said. “We’re recognized by a select few, but I want us to be recognized by everyone (In Southern Illinois).”

Lilly said she has helped artists by selling and displaying their work online through the organization’s Facebook page. She’s also endorsed the artists to businesses in southern Illinois, she said.

Chelsie Boyd, an artist who works with jewelry, said Lilly’s work is helping to get her work noticed. Boyd said she’s been crafting women’s necklaces and earrings for a year and simply didn’t know how to market her jewelry.

She said her work is getting noticed more and some of it is now being sold at Dayshift, an art boutique in Carbondale, she said.

“I’d never even heard of Dayshift,” she said. “If Amanda never told me of Dayshift, I would’ve never known they were there.”