Creative Debuts Wants To Democratise the Art World

Other | Friday 16th February 2018 | Hanna

Creative Debuts, founded by Calum Hall and Alex Rollings, is a London-based platform for new and emerging artists.

Their upcoming exhibition Empowerment, co-curated by Nasty Women, celebrates different artists across nationalities, art mediums and perspectives. The exhibition opens on International Women's Day on 8th of March and part of the money raised from the exhibition will be donated to End Violence Against Women Coalition to protect women’s rights worldwide.We got a chance to chat to Calum about the ways in which art can have an impact on society, and how Creative Debut wants to be a part of that. 

How did Creative Debuts come to be?

Creative Debuts was born out of the frustration Alex and I had as young artists. We had absolutely no idea how to navigate a journey in the 'art world' and what was even more worrying was that artists who were infinitely more talented that we were didn’t know either! Clearly, there was a void for a platform that put artists first so we decided to form Creative Debuts to take back control.

What were the biggest hurdles you saw facing new artists in the art world?

I think the major issue was the lack of opportunities that often provides artists with the first steps to explore their practice and experiment. For an artist wanting to put on a show, there are considerable costs involved such as the cost of framing, printing, display of artwork, the venue, promotion, and the list goes on. Creative Debuts takes these hurdles away and gives emerging artists the support system they need by giving them advice on how to display work, price it and talk about it confidently. This gives them the freedom to focus on developing their craft to become a practising artist and flourish being part of our creative community. 

There is a general trend of decreased governmental support for culture and arts. Does this show in the work you’re trying to do?

It’s a real shame and such cuts could be seen as detrimental to society and culture. However, when faced with adversity, I have always seen how creatives seek to harness this in a way that catapults their narrative and document it for others to see. Issues such as increasing university fees, the closure of cultural institutions, or the soaring house prices could have prevented our community from pursuing their passions but instead, they have all added fuel to our fire.    

We try to listen hard to our community and represent their views. 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 so that’s exactly what we have done. In celebration of International Women’s Day on 8 March 2018, 40 boundary-breaking feminist artists will exhibit in Empowerment, a show co-curated by Creative Debuts and Nasty Women Exhibition in New York in collaboration with Nasty Women movements in North East England, London, Amsterdam, Lisbon, and Brussels. 

You say you want to bridge the gap between the creative and commercial world. Are there any negative aspects to exposing art to the commercial world?

We pride ourselves on running a business that operates with integrity and aims to work with commercial brands that respect our ethos of putting the artists first. When we have such a partnership - the results are amazing.

We want to be aligning our creative community with progressive, inclusive and dynamic spaces. What is exciting is there’s a real hunger by these onlookers to learn more about the artwork and the artist. As we have always put our artists first, they have a lot of faith in us acting in their best interest, and that is all we ever do. I also think it’s exciting to look at it from the “commercial world” side of things. We are wanting to make art more accessible and change the way it is talked about and appreciated. Without having those conversations and putting artwork in these commercial places then it will be impossible to affect true change

Do you feel art has gotten more political in recent years?

Yes for sure! I think due to the geopolitical situation at the moment all play a part. For example, the #MeToo campaign probably impacted on the increased awareness of feminist art.

This combined with social media means that everyday political actions and events are being captured by artists and inspiring artworks. This has always been the case but due to the volcanic nature of recent political events, it’s certainly a very engaging time for artwork. I can safely say I have seen far more artworks depicting either Theresa May or Donald Trump than I did David Cameron or Obama. It’s really important to document these social changes and we believe in offering a space to encourage dialogue. This is one of the reasons we are working the Nasty Women movement in the USA and across Europe to hold a feminist show on International Women’s Day.

Do you think new art has a revolutionary capacity?

100% and you just need to look at some great examples such as pussy riot and the sociopolitical roots of street art to name a few. For me, art is about pushing the boundaries and bringing things to the forefront that perhaps makes people uncomfortable at first but all change and progress requires this.

We created Creative Debuts to take back control in favour of the artists and disrupt the art world. We have been able to do this by offering inclusive events that make art accessible to all and not just the rich. As I mentioned before, our next show Empowerment is a good example of how we are supporting a revolution in not such the art world but society today and that’s just the start!

Empowerment will be a preview of The Anti Art Fair that will take place on 4 - 7 October 2018 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 following on from Creative Debuts’ support for equality, female empowerment, diversity and accessibility being a direct response to the sterilised, exclusive and money-driven art world.

What changes do you hope to see in the art world or hope not to see?

 I want to see accessibility, inclusiveness and diversity and The Anti Art Fair will achieve this for us. There is some serious momentum at the moment and the tide is changing.

Who are some of your favourite artists you’ve worked with in the past?

 There’s a very very long list. We have the true honour of working with supremely talented artists every. With so many inspiring styles, spellbinding stories and mind-blowing potential it’s truly impossible to mention just a few. However what I’m most excited about is celebrating artists from all over the world and it’s about time the art world woke up to what is being created in places such as Nigeria, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico, Korea, Canada.

What kind of future do you vision for Creative Debuts?

The ongoing vision we have for Creative Debuts is for artists to get the credit and exposure they deserve. We are just scratching the surface on the ginormous community of undiscovered superstars just waiting for their opportunity to shine. And we are hell-bent on celebrating emerging artists through inclusive events and partnerships.

Some of the ways I can see this happening are by Creative Debuts being able to offer international exhibition exchanges, creative scholarships, artist studios, and continuing to build on and increase our partnerships with progressive brands. We want to become the go-to platform to discover the stars of tomorrow and continue being a business that creates a creative global community that puts the artist first.

What are some of the new artists to look out for in 2018?

Head down to any of our events and you will see them in the flesh! I feel like a proud parent or sibling to all of them so picking favourites wouldn’t be fair, would it?

Empowerment opens on 8th of March. Thursday is already sold out, so get your tickets here, quick! The entrance fee includes entry, a goodie bag, and a charity donation for End Violence Against Women Coalition.