The what is the why- A mission statement/brain-splurge from ArtHole

The what is the why- A mission statement/brain-splurge from ArtHole

Alright? We’re Elliot and Kay, a lowbrow warrior-art duo based in Cardiff. We started ArtHole back in 2019 as a series of Illustration-focussed markets aiming to place an emphasis on community-building and creating opportunities for graduates and young creatives. Finishing University and being thrown into a competitive job market seemed to go against the fundamental joy of creating Art, and we felt that both as people and Illustrators, we were isolated and in need of gathering together some like-minded folk. Zine-culture and printmaking has always served this human need, connecting people across various subcultures, fostering and empowering communities, and encouraging communication with wider audiences (if wanted) in a way that’s cheap and accessible. It’s an essential part of both our personal practices and what we do with ArtHole. 

Outside the markets and shop space we run, we make and freely distribute illustrated zines and leaflets around Cardiff. Art is a right that should be easily available to all! Not only are print and zines the media that are most conducive to this ethos, they also represent the joy of creating for the sake of creating. It’s a means to an end in itself, with the added benefit of bringing the Arts into places where the wider public can encounter it. It’s an inherently radical act, especially in a time where Arts funding is being decimated, and people are having to spend more time at work and on social media. We hope that our shop in the City Centre acts as an extension of this, giving the public a pleasantly surprising opportunity to discover that Illustration, and the community attached to it, is vibrant and essential. As a practice, Illustration is prevalent in so many aspects of our day-to-day lives. It plays a part in all the digital and physical media we consume, from storyboarding to character design, animation and promotional materials. However it is generally seen as a bit of an under-dog as far as public perception is concerned, even among certain branches of the Arts! 

Opening our little shop has thankfully allowed us a permanent space to prioritise the platforming of local Illustrators, students and emerging creatives from around the UK. It has not only helped us consolidate our reasons for starting ArtHole in the first place, but shown us the wider purpose and implications of what we do. We’ve learned this year through our wrangling of business rates and attempts to find funding that the entire economic system seems designed to be inaccessible for artists, grassroots organisations and small businesses. 

Although this has left us with a high level of disillusionment, it has reassured us that doing it yourself has always been the best way of getting anything done, both practically and spiritually. Supporting artists (be they students or self-taught) at the start of their careers is the most important thing we can do, or we will continue to witness the total stagnation of our culture and public spaces. Our responsibility, as both practising artists, as well as owners of a small business, is to do all in our power to resist the homogenisation of our city centres, and empower others to express themselves and do what they enjoy. 

Cheers, yeah?

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