There's been a fantastic shift in Baton Rouge to focus on shopping locally. But, let’s be real, sometimes it feels easier to shop quickly-shipped items online rather than locally-made creations by a small business. In a recent OneRouge Friday Community Call, the conversation amplified the need to keep creatives local in order to build a thriving city that attracts a population for years to come.
To help us better understand, we sought out conversations with the artists themselves on how artists are impacted when we choose to shop with them. We spoke with Elle Mouton and Keidrick ‘Sensei’ Alford, the founders of Baton Rouge art collective, Ellemnop.Art to get their take on supporting local artists.
In your opinion, why is it important for locals to support local artists this holiday season?
Elle Mouton: For me, it means locals are in tune with the local art community to help the scene move forward. It helps local artists feel seen and recognized. It helps artists continue their passions. The more funding and purchases, the more money you’ll have to continue your artistic endeavors.
How do you think shopping with local artists benefits the community?
Elle Mouton: It's almost like a showcase of home. Every piece of art that is in someone's home is showcasing what's in their hometown. It's like a free ad for artists.
How does supporting local artists benefit the economy?
Sensei: I look at that as one big ecosystem. Say I buy a piece from [an artist], he can use that money to invest in himself or eat at a local restaurant. From an economic standpoint, it gives every creator an opportunity to continue to pay it forward to support someone that they admire and appreciate. Supporting and encouraging artists is great. Supporting them financially is even better.
Do you have any stories or examples you can share with me about how local artists are impacted when their work is supported/ purchased?
Elle Mouton: It's always great when people come to markets because they know you’re going to be there. There was a long time that I was making art that no one has ever seen. Being encouraged is a huge deal for artists, knowing that people like your art makes you want to take that risk. With the people that we work with, we all encourage each other. It gives you a lot more confidence when you have more people supporting you.
What is the difference between shopping with a local artist versus a mass-produced item?
Elle Mouton: In most instances, you can say it's a 1-of-1 or signed by an artist and no one else has it.
Sensei: It's the connection. You can connect with the art. It’s something that's spiritual, outside of the money and purchasing the art.
If people can’t purchase art from an artist, what are some other ways they can support local artists?
Elle Mouton: Sharing their social media content (a free way to support them) furthers their reach, giving that artist their flowers, really telling them how much their works mean to them. Artists need their props. Even if someone doesn't buy something, we know there will be a spiritual connection.
Creatives: Tell us how you feel in the comments. Why is it so vital for people to continue supporting your craft?