As an art-loving town, Austin is very supportive of its creative community. But like local musicians, new artists often have a hard time getting noticed in the crowd.
Enter RAW, an independent arts organization for artists, by artists. RAW is a nationwide movement in more than 50 cities (and now an international presence with a launch into Australia), that provides a venue for emerging artists within the first ten years of their careers.
RAW provides these independents with the tools, resources and exposure needed to inspire and cultivate creativity, across all genres including the visual arts, photography, film, music, fashion, performing arts, makeup and more.
Started in 2003 in Los Angeles by fashion designer Heidi Luerra, the concept began to grow beyond Southern California in 2011. RAW Austin is now entering its third season, and its highlight show happens Thursday, February 21 at the Belmont.
RAW directors hand pick and spotlight local artistic talent in film, fashion, music, visual art, hair and makeup artistry, and performance art. With artists from all genres in each showcase, RAW events come together to form an amazing one-night circus of creativity. Guests experience an independent film (usually a short, webisode or music video), a fashion show from an up-and-coming local designer, a musical performance, an art gallery featuring several independent visual artists and photographers along with performance art.
Meghan Jones, co-director of RAW Austin, says that if it weren't for getting involved with RAW, she would not have discovered her own talent as an artist.
"I consider myself pretty lucky to be working with an organization that is harnessing artists with the tools and resources they need to independently promote themselves. In Austin our goal is to create a symbiotic relationship with the creative community, and Austin community at large.
"We have a network that not only spans Austin and the state of Texas (other locations in San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas), but the entire nation; so, we'd like artists to be able to take advantage of that. We find that our network and the artist's drive to discover and create is what keeps us going here in Austin."
Photographer Chandler Wieberg says she most appreciates the fact that RAW offers an opportunity for emerging artists to showcase their work. "It's cool that they focus on new artists rather than established ones; it can be such a hard field to break into."
Visual artist Ross Van Hunt calls the concept creative bliss. “I’m excited to be part of this event where new artists are able to come together and share what we love to do. The dynamic of art/photography/fashion/music/film/performing art — all under one roof in one event is fantastic."
Photographer Pauline Forgeard-Grignon agrees. "My work is about creating memories and sharing how the world inspires me. Being part of the Raw Event is a way for me to be part of Austin's artist community, showcasing my work, and meeting new people."
Tickets for RAW Austin's Discovery event are $15 in advance, or $20 at the door. The event starts at 7:30 p.m. on February 21 at The Belmont. Upcoming Austin events will take place in April and June.