Victoria artist’s app gets to the source of inspiration

After hauling her large art pieces home from yet another fruitless art show, Jenny Farkas decided to turn her frustration into an opportunity.

There are thousands of artists living and creating on Vancouver Island, but most aren’t able to make a living with their passion. Farkas said in her case, the shows she was attending weren’t successfully marketed to potential buyers, which left her dragging her work back and forth with no payoff.

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That’s why Farkas, a visual artist who works in marketing and communications, is launching, a free app that she hopes will connect tourists and local art lovers with the work of Vancouver Island-based artists. The images are geo-tagged to the artist’s “source of inspiration,” so users can see a particular landscape through the creator’s eyes. Buyers can order prints of their favourite pieces that will be produced in Victoria and shipped to their homes.

Farkas said tourists can use the app as a sort of tour guide and visit the locations tagged.

She said she wanted to tap into the broader audience available online, but the special nature of art requires a connection that’s difficult to create on the internet.

“You need an experience attached to it. You need a personal connection or an emotional connection before you decide: ‘I really need to take that home and hang it above my fireplace,’ ” Farkas said.

The app’s geo-tagging element helps to foster that relationship between an artist and potential buyers.

“Tourists are coming here to develop a deeper understanding of this place,” Farkas said. “So these visual stories are an incredible sort of shorthand, just another way for tourists to be able to experience a place.”

Farkas said more than 120 artists have already signed up to feature their work on the app, and she hopes to bump that number up to 200 by the time the app launches late this month. A sample website launched this month to demonstrate what the app will look like.

Artists receive 80 per cent ofproceeds from the sales of their work featured on the app.

One of those artists is Terrill Welch, a landscape painter based on Mayne Island. Welch said artists work extremely hard to do the work they do, and it’s exciting “to have someone else champion that work.”

Kelly Corbett, a painter who recently moved to the Island, said she hopes the app will help her gain exposure for her work.

Farkas said there are only a few artists who have declined to have their work featured on the app, because they’ve gained some exposure through self-promotion.

“They’re just going to wait and see how this evolves,” Farkas said.

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