Demecina Gray is an artist-turned-entrepreneur with a new website that brings a virtual gallery to your laptop. BigArtistNow.com offers smart contemporary art, a meet-the-artist component and exclusive artist-designed T-shirts.
Now she’s getting ready to host “The Seriously Artsy Big Artist Now Launch Party” at the Commerce Street Studios. For one night only, her website will have a physical manifestation. At the event, guests will view works by artists who’ve been featured in the website’s monthly series, Big Artist Now: Erik Beehn, Dolores S. Slowinski, Alisa Yang, Chris Lahti, along with February’s featured artist, JW Caldwell.
You can trust Gray’s taste: Before moving to Las Vegas, she refined it as an art professional in Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles. Gray has put in many years in high-end jewelry sales, and she’s also worked at fine art galleries (most recently as gallery assistant at the now-closed Centerpiece Gallery at CityCenter). Gray, a sculptor and a book artist, is a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and she plans to further her art education. Gray recently spoke to Vegas Seven about her new project.
How did you come up with the name, “Big Artist Now”?
The name came from conversations about knowing when you have “made it” as an artist. At what point have any of us made it in life? Every artist I feature is someone that people need to know and see and think of as a “Big Artist.”
Why sell artist T-shirts?
Well, I wanted to make a belt buckle for my boyfriend that said “Big Artist” on it. It was just for fun. Though the buckle never got made, I got to thinking about different kinds of things I’d like to see, and that led to my idea for the artist-designed T-shirts. Because even if you can’t afford to purchase original art, at least you can probably afford to buy that artist’s T-shirt.
How do you choose artists to be featured on your website?
I pick art that has appeal for a broad audience, and artists who have an ability to develop over time. I also have to consider how the art will look on the Internet.
What do you look for in the art?
I have a wide range of taste in art, but I lean toward artwork that gets me excited, that I have a strong response to. For instance, JW Caldwell engages me on so many levels: his humor, the way he juxtaposes text and image, and the subtle ties his work has to childhood, especially boyhood. Also, his art translated fantastically to the T-shirt he designed.
Do you represent the artists featured on your site?
No, I don’t. These artists are represented by galleries elsewhere. However, by featuring them on my website I do promote them. Big Artist Now gives them an opportunity to market themselves and gain exposure before a wider audience.
Would you ever want a gallery—the old-fashioned kind, with a street address?
Someday I’d love to have a real gallery space in addition to my virtual gallery. There’s no substitute for being in the presence of great artwork. … People often prefer to search online before purchasing artwork anyway, which is fine, and why I have a Web-based business.
Why doesn’t the website feature your own art?
Big Artist Now is not about my personal artistic practice. It’s important for me to keep that separate, and not slip in my artwork, just ethically speaking. You won’t be seeing my work or links to my work there.
Right now I’m showing original art that includes prints, drawings and paintings, but I’d like to branch into photography and sculpture. I definitely want to do more promotions for my artists, and expand my merchandise offerings. And I’d like to experiment with other kinds of marketing techniques, do more fliers, and maybe try “QR Code” promotions, which use an app on your phone that scans a code and takes you right to the website.