It’s a hot afternoon in late June when Laura and I meet up at Outlet for our interview. “I am a dork, I apologize that I am your first interview and I am going to be really dorky.” Laura says, however her presence is confident and warm. I quickly assure her that, if it came to a contest, no one could possibly be as dorky as me. With a laugh and a smile, Laura settles down from her brief spout of nervousness and begins to tell me about the non-profit organization Artists of Sacramento (AoS), of which she is the Founder and Executive Director.

Artists of Sacramento is an amplification, education and advocacy organization… We partner with local events, provide platform elevation opportunities for people who are not getting as much visibility, and eventually we are going to be working on some educational programs that teach artists how to do both the industry side and the artistry side, not just the talent stuff.”
Founded by Laura in 2015, the organization came about as she reached a slow period in her work as a photographer and video media artist. “It first started because I was creatively drained, completely burnt out.” Laura tells me. She had been working in her field for over a decade and had reached a point where doing both the creative work and running the business side of things had become too overwhelming. However, she believes that experience is what makes her able to identify the types of support that artists need, telling me that “one of the reasons I feel like I am qualified to do Artists of Sacramento is because of my average artist’s struggle… I made a living for years but I will tell you it didn’t come naturally for me.” After speaking with her fellow arts professionals, all of whom seem to face identical struggles, she decided that she could put her personal experience to work for others who are struggling in artistic fields, thus Artists of Sacramento was born.
“One of the reasons I feel like I am qualified to do Artists of Sacramento is because of my average artist’s struggle.”

When asked how AoS helps local artists, Laura explains that, “We try to provide whatever opportunity we can for whoever approaches us… Anywhere from financial sponsorship to volunteer time, or we are using our social media platform to create an elevation of awareness.” She goes on to say that, “Another thing we try to do is keep a pulse on what's going on and try to feature up-and-coming artists who wouldn't necessarily have that platform.” As we continue to discuss AoS’s contributions to the Sacramento art scene, she tells me that, “We’ve partnered two years in a row with First Festival. For the past two years [of the event] we have curated art installations and we were able to [have Fisrt Festival] pay the artists and give them an opportunity that they have never had before.”  She has also worked on art installations in collaboration with Menagerie, the very organization which curates the artwork and hosts the art shows here at Outlet. In fact, one of the most popular exhibits from the 2016 Stranger Things Art Show was AoS’s contribution "The Letter Wall." Created in collaboration with artists Aaron and Adam Stewart, the installation used a series of lights connected to a small computer that allowed attendees to send text messages and see them spelled out on the wall. But AoS is just beginning to pick up steam. Laura has an new venture in mind that she thinks will be the perfect combination of support, entertainment and education for local artists.  

“We just launched AoSTV, Artists of Sac TV, and we are putting that across all sorts of platforms from Instagram to Youtube. At First Festival we interview like 20 artists and ask them a survey of questions about the art scene in Sacramento.”

Laura and her team, which is comprised of local artists including Laura’s husband Coday who is a audio technician and musician, have recently launched AoSTV, a web based video channel. She says that "Artists of Sac TV is releasing interviews, cooking shows, live stream classes, like how to set up your Instagram for success or how to break into the the food photography scene. There are all sorts of things that I know the artists of the Sacramento area need access to to learn.” Starting out, AoSTV will feature content produced by Laura and her team, but she believes the channel will grow to incorporate work from collaborators as well. She hopes that in the future, “artists in the city can be like, ‘Hey I’d love to collaborate with you, I’d like to make this series.’” 

“There are definitely artists who are more on the creative side, I call them kites and strings, the difference between hyper creative people and hyper logical people. Hyper creative people are the kites and they are out there in the ether being inspired and then there are the strings who are like, ‘no, we need to do this, and we need to answer this email.’ I think what would help a lot of artists is if they learn how to be their own kite and their own string.”

But that isn’t all that Laura and her organization have in store for the arts community in Sacramento. “One of the major things that we are doing, launching in August, is a blog. I have a lot of artists from all sorts of fields that are going to be creating content for it.” She wants her blog to be comprised of well written articles that delve into the heart of the arts scene in Sacramento, as well as educate up and coming artists about the steps that one needs to take to find success. “When it comes to the blog I think we’re definitely going to work with professional minded and experienced people giving their opinion because it is a big responsibility to be creating that content and releasing it to the community. It needs to be accurate and well researched.” She tells me that visitors of the blog can expect a wide variety of content, “everything from gaming to cuisine to music. Anything in the creative sector we like to highlight.”

“Artists of Sacramento is about to explode.”

As we begin to wrap up the interview, I ask Laura what makes Sacramento so special for her; Why does she like the city? Her enthusiasm is palpable when she replies, “I don’t just like Sacramento, I LOVE Sacramento. I’m pretty much married to the city. I love the artists, I love the community, I love the landscape. I am very proud of our community and the arts community. We have a lot of accomplishments under our belt and I think there can be a lot more in the future ”

Follow Artists of Sacramento on Instagram, YoutubeFacebook and Twitter under the user @artistsofsacramento or learn more about the organization at artistsofsac.org