Animals Australia

After we had closed Artastique Head Quarters halfway March, I had transferred the profits from the donated small artworks to the charities (25% to Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia and 75% to Animals Australia).
After the ThankYou emails Reid Dearson of Animals Australia added an extra question:

“This is just a quick email to say a huge thank you for your generous donation to Animals Australia on the 20th of this month. I have attached a receipt to this email for you and I’d love to hear a bit more about what prompted your contribution – was it a fundraising event at all?”

So, I explained to him what you all already know::

Hi Reid,
Thank you for your interest in the reason for this donation.
In the beginning of March we organised an art event in Maitland (called Artastique), by having 60 artists showing their artworks in 60 shop windows. We did this to help boosting the attraction of Maitland to get more visitors. The artworks were for sale and 100% of the profit was for the artists themselves.
A few weeks before the event we asked every artist to create 1 artwork on a small canvas of 6 x 8 inch. These artworks were for sale for only $20 dollars with the intention to have something affordable for everyone. The profit of these artworks were intended for 2 charities. And one of them was Animals Australia 
HERE you can see a video of the little artworks.

At the end of March Reid replied:

Thank you for getting back to me and I absolutely love this idea! You’ve all done a tremendous job and the artworks were beautiful – I particularly like the first abstract, colourful one on the video.
Keep an eye on your mailbox over the next couple of weeks as we will be sending you a little something in the post. Would you like me to sign you up to our e-updates so you can keep abreast of the campaigns and victories you are helping us work through?
I hope you’re all keeping safe and well during this extraordinary time and thank you so much again for all of your efforts on behalf of those animals who need us the most.

Because of this weird last month I had totally forgotten our email conversation, but today we got a parcel.
Yes, YOU TOO Artastiquers!!!
Isn’t that sweet and thoughtful?! ❤️💕

Survey to artists


Thank you for taking time to answer the questions and to provide us with tips and ideas, which I will discuss below. We got some excellent feedback!

From 54 sent questionnaires to artists we got 25 back.
From 50 sent questionnaires to shops we got  12 back.

1.    Did you sell any of your artworks?
18 artists: No
7 artists: Yes
1 artist got 2 requests in response to presented work

2.    Communication from the Artastique Team was helpful and clear.
24 artists agreed
1 artist disagreed

3.    My linked business was professional and well organised.
20 artists agreed
2 artists were not so happy, mainly because their shop was closing down and the owner/staff was not motivated anymore.
1 artist brought more artworks than the shop would provide room for.
1 shop owner cancelled the agreement with the artists just before the installation what was extremely unprofessional (luckily we could find another shop).
1 artist had a disagreement with the organisers of the writers festival competing for space in the window for their posters. She concluded the space over all was just not suitable for her work.
We are feeling sad, because every single of these 5 artists were non-local. They made an effort to connect to Maitland and have spent a lot of time on the road. Some made the trip 3 times and some stayed over for the week. We are not per se focussed on non-local artists, but we are aware of the fact they are likely to bring in new visitors from farther away.

4.    My linked business left the presentation to me and didn’t interfere.
23 artists agreed
2 artists disagreed

5.    My linked business had some restrictions, but I could work around it.
20 artists agreed
5 artists disagreed
I noticed this question could be interpreted differently (sorry for that). But your other answers clarified your intention to me.

6.    My linked business had too much restrictions to make my presentation looking good.
23 artists disagreed
2 artists agreed

7.    Collaboration with your linked business was positive overall.
23 artists agreed
2 artists disagreed (thanks to the 3 artists for your understanding)

8.    Sharing the first weekend with the IF writers festival worked well.
12 artists agreed
3 artists disagreed
10 artists didn’t know about the writers festival, or were neutral about it.

9.    The on-line marketing by the Artastique Team was engaging and effective.
22 artists agreed
3 artists didn’t know, were neutral, or didn’t answer.

Then we got a lot of suggestions, which I want to discuss below.

1 artists wanted to know about Headquarters earlier.
Because we are using an empty space, the real estate agent only wants to commit at the very last moment, if he is sure there won’t be a long-term tennant.
So, both the address as well as the fact whether we get anything at all, is unknown until shortly in advance.

1 artist suggested to have a terms & agreement as used with galleries.
Because we want to leave as much as possible to the artist (hence the 100% profit), the terms and agreement are fairly simple. You can find them on the website.

1 artist suggested to provide measurements and photos of the shop windows  beforehand. Or have them in a database.
Agree. We will include this next time.

About the online marketing 1 artist said:
I feel too much pressure was on the limited team. This area could be much more super charged, with one person (who is a social media specialist), really own and push this space.
I very much agree. Our team was too small to get the most out of social media.
For next year we definitely need a volunteer to help us with this important part of Artastique.

About the Best window competition the same artist said:
I think having a display competition was unfair as many spaces were restricted to windows with no other area for display.
You are right. Some windows don’t allow the artist to make something special out of their presentation. And I don’t know what to do about it, other than skip this competition.

She also said:
I felt displays past the roundabout towards the Maitland Regional Gallery were disadvantaged due to less customer traffic.
This is true too. And again, this is something we can’t change. We are hoping in future years the East part of High street will get better shops and more foot traffic.

Her last note:
Although Artastique coincided with IF writer’s festival, it could have been more successful if it was held with other festivals such as Riverlights, Aroma etc.
In our first year in March 2019, Artastique was coincided with Taste Festival.  Although the opinions were divided, we decided to coincide again in March 2020. However … at the end of 2019 (after all artists were booked and linked to their shops), we discovered that Taste had changed their date away from us.
The reason we might decide to not coincide with any other festival (except IF Writer’s) in the future is: The impossibility to get a substantial grant if there is already another festival going on at the same date.  I guess because they like spreading the visitors over the year.
It has both its pros and cons.

1 artists wrote:
Could have been better they got my Instagram handle wrong twice and didn’t change it. Also did not see my window featured in the Insta post. Overall I think the social media could have been better.
All windows have been featured in series (you might have needed to swipe to the right to find yours).
By the end of all our preparations, our team shrank from 4 to 3 persons by surprise. I don’t want to pass the blame, but we’ve had to improvise and we have made mistakes. There were even parts of the event that we simply could not perform due to manpower.  Again, next year we hope to have a volunteer on board to cover the quite intense task of social media. 

1 artist suggested:
Handy tips/guidelines for artists re the display.
Yes, this could be a page on the website.  Feel free to overload me with tips, tricks, suggestions, ideas, photo’s of hanging material, things that can be used as easel, etc. 🙂
After this second year we slowly realised the difficulties of some windows. And we also discovered that not all shop owners are the same committed as we are and as the artists are. But … we still want their windows! 
I hope some difficulties will ease over the years, when the shop owners apprehend what Artastique could mean for increasing visitors to Maitland.

Any chance of a longer exhibition to inc Taste festival?
I have already discussed the merger with Taste.
We think 10 days are the utmost we can demand from shop owners. It is long enough to get them (hopefully) thinking along with the artist about the presentation. And it is short enough for them to be happy to have their window back to normal after the event. I don’t dare to stretch it more for now. 

1 artist suggested:
Try to get the empty shops filled with art.
I sooo sooo sooo hope one day the already positive realtors will get the landlords on board for that (they need permission of them) … but in reality a lot of landlords of empty buildings aren’t even living in Maitland and don’t have any connection with the community. 

Include an art prize with a nominal fee for all who apply,  not just selected artists, workshops and definitely continue with the donation.

Perhaps even open the mall up to an artisan market and live performance art on the second Saturday or Sunday to get people into the mall.
Yes! This is one of the projects we should need a volunteer for, because although it sounds easy, in reality it’s a lot of work.

1 artists wrote:
Make sure as best as possible that participating shops/businesses are stable and actually interested in the event.
This is not doable in reality. As Artastique is in March, we need to make the lists of shops a long time in advance.  None of the shops will make promises about their existence in 5 months ahead. Suddenly closing shops are a risk we have to take.

Participating businesses need to be aware that some artists come a long way to be in event and need information in advance, like photos of the window/ display area.
We will take care of the photo/display/measurement part from now on.
About the awareness; I’m afraid shop owners/businesses don’t care if an artist comes from far away or from around the corner. They just give up their window for 10 days and that’s it.

Really liked the Artastique HQ this year.
Thanks. It’s a keeper. In any form.

Thought the Artist get together wasn’t as good as in 2019.  Everyone just sat in little groups on couches and didn’t connect much.
Liked the pub get together better.
Me too.

1 artist said:
However, the ‘tour of windows’ came too late I think. It was a great idea to do a complete showcase of all windows by you guys (although I’m not sure you got to all of the windows in the end as some windows were featured more than others).
I photographed and photoshopped 60 windows in the first (busiest) weekend after they were all set up. Then I had to feature every windows on Instagram and Facebook, trying not being an annoying photo avalanche. I wanted to post them in the first half of the week week, but spreading about 10/15 posts a day (about one and only subject) is pushing the edge of unfollowing. I don’t know how to fix this.

Visuals are a strong way to get the concept out there to show that there was LOTS of variety, price ranges and that they can wander through it all in their own time through the town. I reckon if you did a competition with the community/spectators that could be great! Like, hide ‘something’ at some point in a couple of the windows and whoever can tick them all off – wins…? Like a treasure map or something for a bit of fun and social interaction with the audience.
Or, ‘name 4 artwork titles, what the art subject is, from 4 different artists’ or something like that?
Yes I’m in. Another volunteer project. I’m very much for an artist-run event!

Video tours could be great?
Lots of social influencers use video content for a point of difference?
Interviews with shop owners talking about the artist they have featured in their store. Gives them the opportunity to talk about their own business as well as the featured artist’s work?
If there is anybody out there who wants to do this (including editing and posting) … I’m all ears.

The headquarters was great but, I guess because it was a bit more last minute – it could probably be used in a more organised way – a bit more catalogued?
Yes, Agree. You know our team was minimized in the last weeks and unfortunately some plans and tasks could not be done anymore.

Actually, what if artists send pictures of the artworks they intend to showcase/sell which can then be made into an online ‘buyers catalgue’ that can be available for download from the Artastique website in the lead up to the event?
This could be a volunteers project too. Be aware this needs quite a lot of back-and-forth emailing with all artists.

Maybe supply a list of Artastique specific Hashtags for artists to use in social media.
Yes, good idea.

It would be great to get some artists doing free demos and such, or mini popup workshops for kids. Gets the community more involved in the event and provides more promotion for those artists that have classes and art businesses.
Yes, I love that idea. The next headquarters is free for it! But this has to come from the artists themselves.

It would have been good to get the big signs up earlier, but I understand that was due to a delay in receiving them and not something you had control over.
We have learned we have to order them much earlier.

I liked the fact that headquarters had examples of everyone’s work in case people couldn’t make it to all of the shopfront displays and the idea of a charity sale section in headquarters, but I did think that the charity works were probably a little too cheap for the quality of work that was done.
For next year, the idea of a wall of art below a certain price is a good one – perhaps 30% to a charity and the artist could keep the remainder? It’s the type of commission we’re used to having to pay to a gallery so being able to give that to charity instead while still getting paid ourselves would be nice.
Agree. That is a good idea for sure. Noted!

I think the limited team did an amazing job, but needs a bigger team. More influence in the schools, I spoke with the kids primary school and they would have put it in their newsletter too.
Thanks and agree. Another volunteer project.

Also I think 2 weeks would be better, many people didn’t know much about it until it was nearly over. I was lucky and got an extra week in my shop, I sold all three artworks after the event, while still on display.
See above. For now we don’t want to push it too much.

I also think a get together with the other artists before hand to get tips on presentation would be helpful, especially for emerging artists like myself.
I loved the event and would be happy to help out next year.
Yes, and thanks. At least we can start with a tips-page right away.

I wonder whether it’s worth offering shops the option to sell the artwork, with a commission from the artists? This gives the point of sale, which stops the buyers having time to think about it, but also gives something back to the shops. I would be willing to give up 20%.
Initially we don’t want to ask the shop to act like a gallery, because it has more consequences than it seems at first sight. But on the other hand it could encourage shop owners to get on board and/or be more involved and/or make more of the presentation (notifying that a lot of them already did a great job).
I let this simmer for a while.

Click here to see the survey for the shops/businesses    

Questionnaire to shops

Thank you for taking time to answer the questions and to provide us with tips and ideas, which I will discuss below. We got some excellent feedback!

From 50 sent questionnaires to shops we got  12 back.

1     The art exhibited in my business was of a high standard.
12 agree

2     Communication from the Artastique Team was helpful and clear.
11 agree
1 disagree

3     My linked artist was professional and well organised.
11 agree
1 disagree

4     Sharing the first weekend with the IF writers festival worked well.
6 agree
4 didn’t know
2 disagree

5     I have noticed my business being tagged on Instagram & Facebook.
7 agree
3 disagree
2 didn’t know

6     I have noticed more foot traffic than usual.
9 agree
2 disagree
1 didn’t know

7     I got more visitors into my shop/business.
6 agree
4 disagree
2 didn’t know

8     I want to offer my window for next year again.
11 agree
1 not sure yet


– Please extend the exhibition to go another week longer to take advantage while the Taste Festival is on.
Grants are depending on how close together events are scheduled. A same date means no grant for one of the events (which of course will be us; the newcomers).
For 2020 we didn’t go for a big grant and decided to snuggle up to Taste, but shortly in advance Taste changed their dates to one weekend later. So … no grant and no extra visitors from Taste   

– You can have our window longer next year
We keep this in mind. Thank you so much.

Click here to see the survey for the artists   

Best window competition 2020

This year we have seen some really good presentations and collaborations between the artist and the shop owner.
Every window has it’s own challenges. There are easy windows with an instant good stage and there are windows that demand for some gear to install. There are businesses with almost no windows. But we all are learning every year how to get the best out of every little corner in High Street.

It was a tight race … But the ‘Best Window Prize’ for this year went toooooooo …… Anna Eggenhuizen with a cash prize of $500 ….. and Karina Armstrong of Hunted with a dinner voucher of $200 to spend at Fratelli Roma.

Anna brought in a beautiful old door to hang her artworks on, finished with a cute little fence and fairy lights at night.
Karina collaborated and generously offered half of her window space.
Congratulations Anna and Karina.

Donation artworks 2020 (plus video)

All Artastique artists have been asked to create an artwork on 1 small canvas, which is sent to them. It’s 6 x 8 inch and the artwork will be sold for only $20 in Artastique’s Head Quarters on 395 High St (next to Ken Lane), to have something affordable for everyone.
The proceeds will be donated to Animals Australia and Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia.
This are the adorable artworks the artists have created. THANK YOU SO MUCH X

Thank you! And the video of 2019

Thanks again artists and shop owners, for making the first Artastique such a great success with a budget on a shoestring. When we decided to turn the idea into a real happening only six months earlier, we never expected it would be such a smooth operation.

A couple of weeks ago we got your surveys back. There were a lot of similar and positive answers to our questions. Your comments included many excellent suggestions we certainly will consider for Artastique 2020 – Because … of course there will be a next one!

We know there were sales from Artastique and there are some commissions also, but we don’t know exactly how many.

It was a bit of a bummer the rain on the second Saturday that spoiled the cellophane Street Art event. But … we still have the artists, the cellophane and the paint waiting to get a second chance. And that will be happening soon, on a date to be announced here in the next couple of months.

The red and shiny balloons (photo) got a lot of compliments and worked well in highlighting our wonderful Artastique businesses, but the balloons needed a lot of attention. Every night we checked them, tried to replace the empty ones and remounted the disobedient bamboo sticks. Next year we will use something similarly eye-catching, but less high-maintenance…

We happily noticed that some artists made something extra out of their given window, by placing matching products and decorations from their shop around the art. Great job! We also saw a couple of artists making an extra effort by running a competition. Well done. We love to see these initiatives. Another few artists let us know they were offered possibilities to show their work after Artastique. Wow, new business relationships are such a fantastic result. And this was only the first Artastique!
We are so looking forward to what will happen in the next few years as more and more Maitland businesses and Australian artists join the Artastique community!