RAW: Natural Born Artists:
What It’s About And What’s Next For The Chicago Chapter
By Amber Topping
Kara Coraci, Director of the Chicago location of “RAW: natural born artists” took the time recently to talk to REAP about the vision of RAW as a global independent arts organization, how artists working from numerous genres can participate, as well as the upcoming Chicago event on January 30th.
First of all, for anyone who isn’t familiar, can you explain what “RAW: Natural Born Artists” is?
Natural born artists is an independent arts organization, for artists, by artists. We're an international community made up of creative individuals across the globe. Our mission is to provide independent artists within the first 10 years of their career with the tools, resources and exposure needed to inspire and cultivate creativity.
We welcome all genres of art including independent film, fashion, music, visual art, performing art, hairstylists, makeup artists and more. We encourage the creative success of the many visionaries and storytellers of our generation. RAW currently operates in nearly 60 cities across the United States, Australia, Canada and, now London!
With RAW located in over 60 locations worldwide. Have you heard of any plans to expand even further?
Absolutely! RAW initially focused on countries the English in their main language. This made the marketing transferable from the U.S. Intentions are to open up in every major city possible within time. Paris will be launching this year.
What type of creative artists does RAW choose to feature, and/or spotlight?
A typical show has performers, musicians, fashion designers, visual artists, photographers, accessories designers, MUAs, and hair stylists. But there’s really not one answer for this… it’s really dependent on who the Director chooses to feature. I’ve had everything from live body painters to Fashion Designers that make clothing for dogs. I’ve had burlesque, hoop dancers, belly dancers and dance troupes to name a few.
How does the hand selection of various creatives in visual art, film, music, fashion, photography makeup and more, work?
Once an artist learns of the RAW organization they can submit a profile to the RAW website here: www.rawartists.org/register They create a bio, upload photos and videos and then Directors hand select who they think would be a good fit for their shows.
You work with the Chicago location. How did you, yourself, become involved with Chicago RAW?
I’ll make this a longer story then it needs to be just because I think it’s a fun story but right before RAW, I had been doing some contract work for Red Frog Events in Chicago. We were having an event planning contest and had to come up with a cool event concept we wanted to bring to life. Without ever hearing about RAW, I had basically described the RAW concept but named it “Museum Mayhem.” It was supposed to be an evening of performers, musicians and artists. About a month after this, I saw a job posting for RAW and could not believe that an event I had dreamed of really existed. I put together a quirky but professional Cover Letter hoping it would catch their attention and signed it “Cheers & Beers.” Shortly after that I got a call back and before I knew it, I was flying out to L.A. for training! It was an incredible experience meeting my fellow directors from all over the world and the staff at HQ and the brains behind it all, Heidi Luerra.
What should someone expect to find typically at a RAW event?
When describing a showcase I always say it’s a hybrid of a variety show and an indoor festival. About 30 Artists, photographers and accessories designers will have stations showing off and selling their work to guests. During this time, a DJ is spinning music, performances and musicians play one right after the other and a fashion show finishes off the night!
When one attends a RAW event in Chicago, would they find something similar in a different location? In other words, does the RAW vision stay the same no matter what city it is in?
Absolutely! The basic RAW format you can find from city to city whether you’re in Chicago or Sydney, Australia. Each show is unique depending on what type of art thrives in that city. For instance, NY might have a bigger focus on Fashion then let’s say Phoenix.
There is an upcoming event on January 30th for Chicago RAW. What can you tell me about this particular event?
Well, for one it is the fourth season for RAW Chicago. The Chicago location is one of the longest running locations. We’re also very excited to be at a new location, Bottom Lounge. This particular showcase is going to be doubled in size of artists from past the past showcases.
Can you tell me a little more about this new venue for Chicago Raw?
Bottom Lounge is on the West Side of Chicago and is extremely accommodating to RAW’s needs.
Can you pick an artist from the event to talk about briefly?
Emily Sfirit – A fiery, young fashion designer best known for her designs with e.kaye collection, mother of two and from the suburbs of Illinois. She has been featured in both Chicago and Milwaukee showcases and has plans to be featured in RAW Los Angeles in 2014. She was also one of the top 3 RAW Fashion Designers of 2013! E.kaye collection is especially proud of a design she collaborated with on with artist, Jacob Blum. She took an 8x5 original painting and created a wearable gown using only the canvas given, and “ALL of the canvas given. The result is one hundred percent unique and one hundred percent inspired.” – quote Emily Sfirit
Each event does a film screening. Is it shown sporadically throughout the event? Or is there just going to be one showing? Should attendees expect to arrive early?
Films primarily go first and from time to time slide shows or graphics are shown in between acts. Attendees wanting to see featured films should arrive early.
How often do these events happen, whether in Chicago, or in any city?
The showcases are every other month and Chicago RAW looks forward to RAWkin’ out again on March 27th when we present RAW Mosaic.
For more information on Chicago RAW and the upcoming event head on over to: www.rawartists.org/chicago
To find the location closest to you check out their site www.RAWartists.org
Homepage Photo credit: Ronald Leon Hale