Artist Interviews 2024

The Artruist Collective  
By Laura Siebold

The Artruist, founded in 2020, is a digital art collective that offers artists the chance to donate their work. The proceeds generated from the art sold on the website, support non-profit organizations: Rainforest Foundation US, Al Otro Lado, NAACP LDF and Feeding America Covid-19 Response Fund. We interviewed Marcela Avelar, founder and contributor of the art collective for this special issue dedicated to art with a cause.

Marcela, your collective “The Artruist” donates all proceeds of sold artwork to selected non-profits. When did this project come to life and how many total donations have you accomplished since you started?

The Artruist started way before it actually had a name, sometimes, I think life was preparing me for this. I was born an artist, and I’ve been creating since I have a memory, but it was not until 2017 that I saw the world with different eyes. Some of the battles we had won in women’s rights were in danger, immigration laws were changing, and it wasn’t probably that my environment was changing but that I was finally seeing, I was aware. The climate crisis didn’t start that year, am I right?

On the morning of January 21st, in the elevator of a hotel in DC; republicans, democrats, immigrants, press - we all rode it together, and we were all the same. I was about to walk The Women's March, but for those seconds, in that elevator, all beliefs could coexist peacefully. I like that.

While marching I had a thought, I wonder if Jesus was alive today, where would he be. Jesus and Mary are icons that are familiar to me, but my thought was not religious, it was symbolic. I imagined Jesus would be the first feminist, and Mary wearing a pussy hat marching next to us, so I drew these images. “United We Stand” is a series of three drawings portraying icons as activists.

But this was not enough, how can an artist make a change? I have a talent, but for what reason? This is when the first bulb turned on. I will sell “United We Stand” and donate the money, wait…what if I make prints and donate the profits…or, if I want to do this, maybe there are more artists like me. And that day, with butterflies in my stomach, and energy running through my veins, I knew I had found purpose, and the Artruist was born.

It took time to bring it to life, to be exact, we launched August 27, 2020. Today we are a collective of 13 artists and 4 non-profits. I wish I could tell you we have donated millions; we have a long way to go. I really believe in this project and with people like you we can reach a bigger audience.

How do you choose the artists you wish to feature or do the artists choose you? Please explain the process.

It goes both ways. We choose them but they are welcome to apply. The selection process is simple, art is subjective, but we do have to have a criteria to keep it up to standard. Artruist art is original, Artruist art makes you feel, Artruist artists excel in their technique.

We believe art is the soundtrack of your daily life, you see it every day, even when you think you don’t. By buying a piece of art, a part of the artist lives with you. It’s important to pick what energy you want to be surrounded by.

Can you please share the motivation behind the collective? Have you received any feedback from featured artists on this meaningful work you would like to share?

We all work with what we have, the word is your tool, ours: our art. But we are stronger together. Together as a collective but also together with the Non-Profits, they are the ones working on increasing human well-being, they have years of experience and a dedicated and passionate team.

It all comes full circle, the artist supports the non-profits, the art lover supports the artists and the non-profit, the non-profit do their amazing work and we get to live in a world that is better because of them. Passion, Community and Purpose.

People along the way:
One of my first advisors was Jennifer Justice; when I was still debating if the idea was worth it, she gave me some of the best advice I’ve received, as simple as it sounds, she said “Start small”. This not only gave me the energy to start but also kept me going, as each step was small but taking me further. She later posted inviting people to support us, a female founded artist movement. Calling people to check the works from artistic visionaries with purpose.

The Artruist might not be for all artists but when it’s a match, it’s a true match. You can see the due-diligence and then the excitement of being part of it. It has been a joy working with the featured artists, as part of the Artruist family we share values, and it all becomes clearer the deeper I get to know them. I am still amazed with all the work they do outside the collective and it is an honor to have them. They are as authentic as people as they are in their art.

Featured Artists:
Yuko Oda, Sara Blake, Kelly Korzun, Counsel Langley, Alexandra Toledo, Kate Quarfordt, Raquel Barrios, Andrey Ayrapatov, Kike Besada, Patricia Espinosa, Melanie Little Gomez, Ata Bozaci, and myself, Marcela Avelar.

By which criteria do you choose the non-profit organizations you wish to donate proceeds from your art to?

We wish we could help all the important causes, but for now we have the option to donate to Rainforest Foundation US, NAACP LDF, Feeding America COVID-19 Response Fund and Al Otro Lado. We tried to support foundations that were working in different fields but to choose the charity the checkpoints were:

• Mission aligned to results
• Transparency
• Community-driven

Are you planning on having a physical space to showcase the work of participating artists and increase presence for the non-profit collective in the future?

Actually yes, but shhhh. A plan is in the works to do a show in NYC with the featured artists and their original pieces of art along with prints available. We do see this as an opportunity to do a bigger fundraiser but also to highlight the work the non-profits are doing.

We would like to share your meaningful work with the art community! How can interested artists apply to be featured, and where can our readers purchase the art?

A good friend said last night while dancing to a blank canvas “What colors do you wanna see in the world?” This is not only the artist's job, but all of us create the world we want to live in.

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