In 2015, I bought my first original piece of art, directly from a Peoria artist at his studio. The artwork is a collagraph and watercolor of a plastic grocery bag—the kind that says Thank You Gracias Thank You Gracias. Up until that point, I had only purchased mass-produced prints. Since that day, the collection I share with my husband includes original works of art only.
Sometime after I bought my first piece of original art, I stumbled upon a book by Erling Kagge titled, A Poor Collector’s Guide to Buying Great Art. I bought it. And then I bought more art, mostly from local artists. Peoria has a strong arts community and as a non-artist, I found the threshold to attending openings and meeting artists to be low. If you are reading this: go to a show’s opening reception, attend First Fridays, buy a ticket to a performance, get a tattoo! We have world-renowned artists in Peoria.
All of this art-buying turned me into an active arts advocate in our community, and I found that the best way to support the arts is to buy art. In 2017, in an effort to spread this philosophy, I started sending “I BUY ART” buttons to anyone who tagged me in a photo on Instagram with the latest addition to their art collection. The buttons are small and simple, with an off-white background and bold, blocky font. To date, 2,600 buttons have been distributed in 26 states.
As the movement gained popularity, I made packs of buttons available at cost for other arts advocates, artists and arts organizations. I BUY ART buttons have been shipped with artists’ online orders, handed out at the Peoria Art Guild’s Fine Art Fair, and (purposefully) left in Ubers across the U.S. They’ve been turned into keychains, left on doorsteps and transformed into vintage leather bags. Really, there’s no telling how far I BUY ART buttons have traveled.
What’s so special about a button? Aside from the intrinsic benefits, I believe we need to empower the arts for economic and cultural enrichment. Strengthening the arts directly affects major city issues and has a measurable impact on public safety, infrastructure, housing, health and demographics. The goal of the I BUY ART campaign is to create an awareness around expanding opportunities for the arts. In order to do this, we must buy art.
I BUY ART is not just a button. You can find the I BUY ART campaign among the pages and halls of Peoria Magazines, as they’ve transformed their office into an art gallery with work for sale by local artists. This fall, you will find the campaign taking over the Fine Art Fair for the second year in a row. Together, our goal is to encourage people to support the arts with a simple message: buy art and buy local.
If you’d like to sport an I BUY ART button, visit collecture.co/ibuyart or visit Peoria Magazines and buy a piece of original art from their gallery. PM
Abby Gettys established her interior design firm in 2014. Collecture was founded in an effort to advocate for artists and emphasize the importance of original art in interior design.