Art + Public Outdoor Project = ArtPopQ&A with Wendy Hickey, Founder & Executive Director of ArtPop
Posted: July 18th 2016
How did Art Pop begin?
While living in Pennsylvania in 2000, working for an OOH company, in their Poconos division, I was serving on the Board of Directors for the Poconos Arts Council. I’ve always been a huge lover and appreciator of art -- there’s no formal training to go along with that, it’s just something that I’ve always enjoyed. I tend to gravitate toward artists, I appreciate their creativity and way of thinking so, I got involved in the Arts Council and then they asked me to join their Board of Directors. So, in my civic duty, serving on the Poconos Arts Council, I was thinking about what I could do to give back and serve the board and the art community properly. That’s when the idea came to me. There are artists who need a voice and, from time to time, there are available billboards. That’s is how ArtPop was born, although we didn’t call it ArtPop back then. It was really grassroots and really informal – I would literally ask the artists who were in the Art Council database, “can you pay for a vinyl and we’ll put up your art?” That’s how primitive it was -- the very beginning of a dream. As I moved around with my company I would do this in the all of the cities I worked in. It became more formal when I moved to Charlotte, NC and the first program officially known as
What is ArtPop’s mission?
ArtPop’s mission is to promote local artists work through available media space. I have a huge love for artists and want to be their voice. I want to inspire our communities and cover our streets with art.
Why do you think OOH is such a great medium for promoting artists’ work?
My hope is that people will be inspired during their commute and say “hey, I want to go to a museum now, I want to go to an art gallery now. I would like to learn more about the local artists in my community” and maybe they wouldn’t have done that before. And what a surprise it can be – you’re in traffic, probably not enjoying it so much, and there’s this beautiful piece of art. I’ve received emails from people saying, “thank you for making my day better” and “thank you for introducing me to this artist who I didn’t even know existed in my own backyard” I don’t know where else you could do that – this medium of advertising is amazing and effective but, for exposing the local community to art it’s huge and extremely effective.
How does the selection process work?
In every city I’m am typically on that panel of judges but, we rely on the art council that we are partnering with in that city to organize a panel of judges. So, myself and whoever the arts council appoint for that panel, we all judge the work and choose the designated number of artists -- every city is different the only thing is the same is that I’m on that panel. What is the biggest challenge or obstacle? I really think the biggest challenge is not having our funding in place yet to be able to really run this as a well-oiled machine. Time can be a huge issue and financial side of it is also huge. We are a 501c3 organization as of August 2015 with a board of directors. We had our 1st annual fundraiser in June of 2015, where artists donate their work, attendees pay a fee at the door and people have a chance to buy art and that money goes back to ArtPop. We just had our 2nd annual fundraiser and now, I’m starting to research and apply for grants and seek private or corporate donors to fund ArtPop.
Do you have any success stories of winning artists?
Yes, I sure do. I have a brand new one and an older one. Many of the artists in the program to date have been reached out to and commissioned so, that happens over and over again. It could be that someone wants a print of the actual billboard or the original of the piece featured on the billboard or it could be that they love the artist’s work so much that they commission them to do something original for them. And beyond that, Emily Andress -- her career has just exploded since her work was featured on an ArtPop billboard. She’s been commissioned over and over and over again. She gets more for her artwork now than she did prior to the program – she is so busy – she’s collaborating with a gallery now, there have been all of these amazing things happening to her and she directly relates this success back to ArtPop. And, very recently, we did ArtPop in Peoria, IL for the second year, and there is an artist there, Linda Webb, who works in polymer clay and does these gorgeous monarch butterflies – a couple, who owns 33 acres of pollinator mix land, to help facilitate growth of the pollinator population, saw her ArtPop billboard and commissioned her to do a butterfly for the side of one of the barns. That was a direct result of them seeing her artwork on an ArtPop billboard. I get phone calls and emails all of the time from the artists telling me, “Wendy, someone saw my ArtPop billboard and I’m going to do a painting for them” or a sculpture etc. See all ArtPop winners, to date,
What about the program brings you the most joy?
I love hearing that someone’s career has grown or changed. From a local perspective it feels like a lot of these artists are landscapers by day and work on their art at night or work a day job in bank or whatever it may be, they’re spreading themselves thin trying to do both. If ArtPop can change that to where they can just do their art, and manage their finances through the sale of their art instead of having to work another job, THAT is it – that’s what makes me happy!
Check out the ArtPop Video.