Creative Debuts ~ Calum Hall Interview

Creative Debuts is a platform founded by Calum Hall and Alex Rolling. It helps budding creatives get their work out there and commissions them; they also are known for holding events/exhibitions as well. We were given the opportunity to interview Calum Hall, here’s what he had to say.

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Who/What is Creative Debuts?

“Creative Debuts is a leading platform championing emerging artists and designers from around the world. Our aim is to make art more accessible and to tackle the hurdles faced by undiscovered creatives. We help to do this by: showcasing and commissioning artists, selling unique artwork, hosting events, and connecting artists with businesses.”

Can you explain why there is a current lack of opportunities for emerging artists, and why is the situation different from 20 years ago?

“Emerging artists have always found it challenging to break into the market. Historically artists have needed the support of large galleries to be noticed and sell their work. These galleries often make the most money from the relationship but we don’t believe this is fair. This is one of the reasons why Alex and I started Creative Debuts. We are looking to disrupt the traditional brick and mortar art market to make it more diverse, inclusive, and form a creative community that supports each other.”

How did you achieve your ethos with starting a ‘creative community’ [which] puts the artists first?

“We don’t make money unless our artists do, and we ensure they take the bigger cut. By putting on at least 20 events a year, Creative Debuts are able to not only celebrate the works of our artists but also invite the general public to join our community and witness the sheer talent around them.”

Where do you find the artists you help that are ‘under the radar.’

“Many of our artists have joined the platform through word of mouth as we have been recommended. Our platform is free to join and artists can use it as a portfolio or to sell work. We also tend to spend some time researching artists and getting in contact with them directly to offer our services.”

Do you think that you have successfully ‘bridged the gap between the creative and commercial worlds,’ and what are the obstacles (if any)? 

“Creative Debuts are making some really positive steps with some incredibly supportive and progressive companies. The journey is constantly ongoing and we are doing our best to navigate a way that always puts our creative community first. The hurdles are what makes it fun! As an embryonic business ourselves (compared to where we want to be), we are learning every minute of every day and to say it’s a rollercoaster is an understatement!”

 How did you first get involved with Nasty Women?

“Last year, many of our female artists expressed the challenges they have faced in the being recognised, exhibiting, and selling their work. We felt it was important to support them and offer a space to address the issues they had experienced. This is why we held our first feminist exhibition with Nasty Women last year and we wanted to continue to build momentum with Empowerment this year.”

What was the concept behind the upcoming ‘Empowerment’ exhibition?

“Empowerment is calling for greater diversity in the arts and accelerating gender equality. A lot of work still needs to be done to make the art world more inclusive. Empowerment is just the start! We will build on this work later in the year with The Anti Art Fair to continue challenging perceptions, create debate, and offer a platform to those on the margins of the art sector. Empowerment will be a preview to The Anti Art Fair that will take place on 4 – 7 October 2018. We will be working with a range of partners including Nasty Women to deliver The Anti Art Fair to coincide with Frieze Art Fair in London. The fair will be a celebration of creativity and the voice for change in the art world that puts the creators at centre stage. It will follow on from Creative Debuts’ support for equality, female empowerment, diversity and accessibility. The Anti Art Fair will be a direct response to the sterilised, exclusive and money driven art world.”

You must have been inundated with submissions when you put out the artist call; how easy or difficult was it choose the artists who are showcasing?

“We wanted to have a broad range of styles and mediums on show but everything had to be technically impressive as well as thought provoking. I’m really proud of all the artists involved and how they have taken the opportunity and ran with it. There’s so many international artists involved from as far and wide as the United States, Nigeria, India, Iran, Germany, the Netherlands, Greece, Sweden, and the UK. It’s also great to see so many artists making their exhibition debut at Empowerment, I hope this excitement and the exposure will be a driving force in their creative careers.

What are your expectation of  thursday evening?

“As the name suggests I want people to feel Empowered! This exhibition is a true celebration of our creative community both through the tremendous talent on display and the stories told by the artworks. I want people to leave the exhibition with the mind-set that they can achieve whatever they like. I have no doubt there will be a very special energy in the building, and I am sure this will be a catalyst for even more positive change. This is exactly what Creative Debuts is about!

What’s next, after the Nasty Women exhibition?

“We will be opening submissions to The Anti Art Fair that will take place on 4 – 7 October 2018. It’s going to be our biggest event yet and it will coincide with Frieze Art Fair in London.”

By Chenaii Crawford Corri

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