Artists Sunday organizers ‘not resting’ until the day is as well-known as Black Friday

Stella McDaniel

You’ve heard of Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, but artists based in Seattle and elsewhere want to add a new shopping day to your calendar: Artists Sunday.

The campaign launched last year as a national public information effort to support local artists by encouraging people to buy local art on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

“The goal is to make Artists Sunday a part of the consumer consciousness, so it’s Black Friday, it’s Small Business Saturday, it’s Artists Sunday and Cyber Monday, and we’re not resting until that message is kind of universal,” said Chris Sherman, a Marion, Iowa-based photographer.

Artists Sunday, a volunteer effort run by Sherman and Seattle-based artist Cynthia Freese, gives artists and arts organizations access to free marketing materials to promote the day. They can also register to be featured in the searchable online directory of artists and organizations at artistssunday.com.

This year, more than 4,500 artists are signed up across the country — including 405 in Washington state and 121 in Seattle — for Artists Sunday on Nov. 28.

“We’re very thrilled with the number of artists across the country that are working with us,” Sherman said. “We love to work with communities, not necessarily just the artists, because the communities have a deep reach.”

Among the changes from last year, organizers streamlined the “tool kit” of marketing materials, including graphics for social media and posters, to be easier to access.

There were just shy of 4,000 artists signed up for 2020’s Artists Sunday, Freese said. After the holiday weekend, she sent out a survey to those that participated.

“We did send a survey out afterwards to ask how were your sales this year compared to last year and if they had a boost, and we had really overwhelming, happy replies from people saying the tool kit really helped them out and they noticed sales increased,” Freese said.

Sherman said the American Craft Council, a nonprofit located in Minneapolis, reported that on Artists Sunday last year, they saw five times the sales compared to a normal day of business.

Artists and organizations across the country can register on the Artists Sunday website for free and will be given access to marketing materials and a listing on the site’s artist directory, patron directory or partner directory.

Those interested in purchasing art this year can search for participating artists, galleries and organizations in their area from the directory on the website. 

“The whole idea behind Artists Sunday is: Look, embrace this day as your own, and here’s the marketing materials,” Sherman said. “It’s really not about promoting us. We just want to be an enabler, we want [the artists] to be able to promote themselves and use the tools we give them to do that.”

Sherman said he got the idea after seeing an uptick in sales on his own site after Thanksgiving in 2019. He teamed up with Freese last year to launch Artists Sunday out of Seattle. 

“Art is the connecting tissue for our local communities, it supports local economies, you know,” Sherman said. “Artists are local, they buy local, they spend that money local. So supporting artists is supporting that local community.”

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