create / 2014

Row Gallery Foundation: Empowering Artists from All Walks of Life

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Row Gallery Foundation

We hope to connect underprivileged artists to a larger audience by providing both a physical & online space where they can share their work.


Please describe yourself.

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

We hope to connect underprivileged artists to a larger audience by providing both a physical & online space where they can share their work.

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • Wherever art-based non-profits exist!

What is your idea/project in more detail?

Art means a lot to us at Row Gallery - we want people to share their work with the world, no matter who they are. From our physical gallery in Los Angeles to our online platform, we hope to provide a space where underprivileged artists can reach a wider audience.

Our next step is to create an online platform where different LA art non-profits and their artists can come together to post and sell their work online. Not only will this generate profit for the members involved, but it will provide a single space where similar minds can exist. Row Gallery will hopefully create a community of creatives built on positive interactions. With everyone’s encouragement and support, art can spur positive change, one community at a time.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

We plan on implementing this idea by first developing a fully functional interface where the organizations can upload the work. Account management will be done within our servers through either WooCommerce or a platform like Shopify. Payouts to the organizations will happen twice a month - we always makes sure that all sales are fully transparent to the account holders and their associated accounts. Much like Society6.com, we hope to offer prints and original artwork for sale (the major difference being we will deal specifically with underprivileged artists). A web developer will set up an API feed between the site and our manufacturing and printing partners so fulfillment can be instantly handled. Eventually, manufacturing and printing will all be managed in-house.

After creating our site, we will continue securing partnerships with creative non-profits, foster homes, and any other foundation that supports disadvantaged artists to expand our gallery. Brochures, videos, and financial statements will all be made available to strengthen our pitch.

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to CREATE today? In 2050?

As stated earlier, this project will hopefully bring together all of the art-based non-profits in Los Angeles to work together on improving the lives of the people they help. Through our website, we will create an ecosystem where non-profits can encourage their artists to not only create art but collaborate with similar groups of people. Furthermore, professional artists and groups can connect through our website to specific artists or non-profits that we have partnered with to teach, create, and inspire.

By 2050, we will hopefully be able to create a cohesive Los Angeles art unit, where creativity comes from all parts of Los Angeles and in different form of collaborations. Not only will we become a permanent gallery for artists and creative organizations, but a powerful support system as well.

Whom will your project benefit?

Our project will ideally benefit all creatives in Los Angeles and eventually nationwide.

First, the underprivileged artists will be able to sell and showcase their work on our website at all times of the day, giving them the ability to independently present their work to anyone with internet access. Non-profits will be able to upload the work for the artists.

Next, the creative non-profits can utilize our platform to showcase what they do. Each organization can have a biography and link to their own site, and if any of them want to reach out to each other, its as simple as clicking a button.

Finally, all artists and creatives can connect with the artists or non-profits directly through our site. With proper funding, we can even host large scale collaborations, fundraisers, or art events that span all social groups.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

Our current (confirmed) partnerships consist of businesses, non-profits, and creative studios: 1) LA Lofts Realty helps provides their wonderful office on the corner of 6th and Spring twice a year on Art Walk for us to showcase the works of professional and underprivileged artists in a physical space.

2) DTLALIFE magazine helps advertise our events to the ~200,000 readers they have. Similarly, the Downtown Art Walk featured us on their website’s front page for our first show to help raise awareness.

3) The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf provides free products for our events, which helps volunteers stay in top shape and the visitors to enjoy great coffee during the shows. Through their connections, NeuroGum connects Row Gallery with UCLA doctors to help tackle mental health from a medical perspective.

4) Most importantly, the Lamp Community and their artists contribute their amazing artwork to the shows. We have showcased and sold their work and are looking forward to collaborating with them through our online platform as well. Furthermore, many volunteers that work with Lamp help us on our projects, giving us further support.

5) In addition, we work with many art studios in the area. Andre Miripolsky, Eva Napp, and Mary Woronov all showed their amazing artwork at our shows, boosting the amount of foot traffic that comes in. These spaces can also provide art printing services for our online store.

Given these relationships, the three factors most critical to our success are: 1) Building a larger network of creative non-profits that all talk with each other. We want to expand Row Gallery because many creative non-profits fight for the same cause. If we come together, we can move one step closer to enriching lives.

2) Increasing the amount of art education that goes into the LA community. Row Gallery hopes to provide the tools necessary to help empower people through art.

3) Ensuring a space where the physical gallery can grow. Currently, there are no spaces in LA that specifically showcases artwork from both professionals and working artists. Why not change that?

How will your project impact the LA2050 “Create” metrics?

  • Employment in creative industries
  • Arts establishments per capita
  • Measures of cultural and global economic influence (“soft power”) (Dream Metric)
  • Unemployment rates (and opportunities) for the formerly incarcerated (Dream Metric)

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

1) We directly empower artist by giving them a space to sell, share, and connect with anyone who uses our website. Through the internet, these underprivileged artists can share their work online in a way they were never able to do before. The non-profits we partner with can help them upload and create a profile on our website, which they can easily pass along to others. Moreover, we will actively create opportunities for our artists!

2) We hope to be the ones creating art establishments! As stated earlier, we want all types of artists engaging with different groups of people through our platform to bring their talents out into the LA community. Like Row Gallery’s first pop-up show, we will fully support and encourage our artists to open up shows all over Los Angeles.

3) We are hoping our site crosses social bounds so artists of all levels and societal classes can connect with each other. This will help bring different viewpoints from different people - and that’s what collaboration is all about!

4) As our non-profit develops, we can provide art related jobs to the formerly incarcerated. Much like Homeboy Industries, Row Gallery will eventually be able to manufacture our own products, such as art prints and canvases, in-house. Our organization’s growth and employment rates will go hand-in-hand.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

Success will be measured in three ways: 1) The growth of the online platform. Through the partnerships we make with creative non-profits, foster homes, and different communities, we will be able to expand our online gallery. All artists will then be able to either sell or showcase their work, which brings up the second measure of success…

2) Sales. Money, unfortunately, is a mandatory element in building any type of organization. We hope that artists on our platform can sell their work (either prints or originals). The majority will go back to the artist and the non-profit while we take a small commission to help us keep everything running properly!

3) Communication between artists, non-profits, and third parties. We believe communication and use of the site from third parties will directly influence the above two metrics. We are hoping our site will become a network for people to connect and create.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

For my birthday earlier this year, I had decided to spontaneously create an 8ft x 6ft canvas for different LA artists to collaborate on in Skid Row. I had initially reached out three non-profits, all of whom turned me down. Finally, I found the amazing art project coordinator at Lamp Community who fully supported the idea. When the collaboration did happen, it was beautiful to see the different styles merge together, especially between the professionals and the Skid Row artists.

It’s interesting to see that the majority of non-profits do not frequently communicate with each other. Very little collaboration occurs between non-profits despite all of them working towards similar goals. While the original thought process was to create some social network for non-profits specifically, it became clear that providing a platform for the underprivileged people they help will have a greater impact. Compared to the non-profits, it appeared that the struggle these people face are far more interconnected. Of course, as an artist, the medium of a gallery felt the clearest to me.

Sometimes, it feels an artist can only become a great artist through hardship (i.e. Van Gogh, Kahlo, etc.). Yet, through my experience, the process of working together can produce something different, new, and amazing on it’s own. I believe this project has the potential to transform into something better as more non-profits and artists come together, bringing new ideas to the table.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

Prior to our first show, we set up a business bank account and our 501c3 status. Building the website will be the next big step!

The idea of an online art gallery/ store is not a new one - websites like Society6 and ImageKind have successfully created a business through this model. What makes us unique, however, is that our project focuses solely on non-profits and underprivileged artists, empowering our artists by connecting them with like-minded people, supporters, and other 501c3 organizations.

This being said, we have a pre-existing model that our web developers can follow. eCommerce software like Stripe, wooCommerce, or Shopify allow us to easily track sales and incorporate merchant account systems, and electronic API feeds can be sent to print shops that we have already worked with previously. This way, we would not need to carry inventory ourselves, and all printing jobs can be done on-demand through our manufacturing partners.

Beginning with Lamp Community, we can begin implementing artwork and artists into our website, and continue to reach out to different creative organizations who will be interested in showcasing or selling work on rowgallery.org. We will create an intuitive uploading system for the non-profits so creating artist profiles and galleries will be hassle-free.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

The most difficult part of the project is growing the online community until it becomes a sustainable system on its own. Since Row Gallery functions heavily on the artists and non-profits submitting work, developing partnerships with different creative organizations will be the biggest mountain to overcome.

Secondly, there is always the problem of maintaining the website. Small bugs will inevitably arise. To prevent this, our web developer will need to keep the site running as smoothly as possible, looking over the flaws that may arise.

Finally, in a business sense, we will need to always be on track to maintain the dialogue between the artists and the supporters. To facilitate this, the community will need to engage with the work the non-profits promote. Social media, publicity, and events created through collaborations can help sustain the artist-supporter-non-profit ecosystem.

What resources does your project need?

  • Network/relationship support
  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)
  • Community outreach