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Arrow Creative Brings The Memphis Art Community All Under One Roof

Arrow Creative, a non-profit organization based in Midtown Memphis, has given over 80 Mid-South artists the space to learn and grow in their creative and entrepreneurial endeavors, all while bringing Memphis’ art to the forefront. This article discusses Arrow Creative’s approach to supporting artists in the community and enhancing the art scene through resources, work development, and outreach programs.

Arrow Creative began with the launch of Memphis Fashion Week in 2012 and the Memphis Fashion Design Network in 2016 to support fashion designers and entrepreneurs and help establish the fashion industry. To continue the legacy of the Memphis College of Art (MCA) community educational program, Abby Phillips and Dorothy Collier co-founded Arrow Creative in 2017 to be a centralized space for local artists and makers in multiple creative fields. 

According to Arrow Creative, the facility has “16 studios, nine creative offices, retail space, coworking space, and classrooms with access to 7 departments of studio equipment.” Artists can utilize the art space and equipment to create their work and then send it directly to their customers for purchase at the Arrow Retail Marketplace. 

“We’ve seen growth from even 2021 of about 20 to 25 vendors,” said Retail and Events Manager Sophie Murphy. “Our Marketplace in Motion is rolling. Our classes are getting more and more fun and having more and more people involved. So everything is becoming increasingly successful as we continue with what we are doing.”

In the retail marketplace, each artist has their own shelf and gallery space where they can sell their work and host events. Also, they can sell their work through the Arrow Retail Marketplace online website, which is constantly updated with new items. 

“Here in our retail space, we have about 85 local artists represented, and the Arrow Retail Marketplace is just a great way to get to explore lots of different Memphis artists, all in one place,” said Marketplace Coordinator Lauren Tester. “It’s a great resource for artists to make lots of extra income. It’s just a super fun spot in Memphis just to enjoy the arts.”

Along with their year-round retail space, Arrow Creative hosts events like Memphis Fashion Week, Holiday Bazaar, and Marketplace in Motion, designed to sell artists’ products in bulk. For example, Marketplace in Motion is a local pop-up shop that features artists, makers, and boutiques from all across Memphis. This event creates more opportunities for entrepreneurs to reach the community, network with fellow studio artists, and share their work.

“I was always very solo in my work. I didn’t let a lot of people in. I didn’t let a lot of people in on my creative process,” said Tester, who is also a studio artist in the Arrow Creative Retail Marketplace. “It has just been eye-opening and beneficial to realize how beneficial having artist friends and artist coworkers is for the creative process and how that grows your body of work because getting people's input and ideas is so great, and I don’t think a lot of artists have done that enough. It has been beneficial.”

In addition to its events, Arrow Creative offers workshops and coordinates programs that assist with work and artist development for all ages. For Instance, the Autozone Youth Creative Entrepreneur Residence program assists nine students throughout the year. It gives them designated studio space, mentors to help train them in sales and marketing, and a stipend for any equipment they want to continue creating at the Retail Marketplace.

Now, Arrow Creative is in the midst of its summer camp program, from June 5 to August 4, where third graders to 12th graders learn directly from professional local artists on creative mediums like painting, ceramics, fashion design, drawing, animation, etc. 

“Right now, our most successful program is summer camp,” said Murphy. “We have started summer camp in the first full week of June. As far as I know, as I said, I think we’ve only had one or two courses, like classes, that haven’t been full. We even have wait lists for several of our classes.”

Additionally, workshops are constantly being planned and offered at the Arrow Creative Retail Marketplace. For example, they provide a candle-making class with Keith McBride of Candles by Deuce, a watercolor series with one of their studio artists, a jewelry-making class, an embroidery class that is part of an art series by Program Coordinator Joy Purvy, and much more. 

“We’ve got a ton of stuff in the works,” said Murphy. “The cool thing is that if you are interested in having or taking a class that we just don’t offer yet, a lot of time, we like to hear what people are interested in taking, and then we can kind of figure out a way to create that class, which is always a lot of fun and I enjoyed that.”

Arrow Creative has more plans to elevate its company, starting with the construction of its creative labs, which will house the equipment it inherited from the Memphis College of Art (MCA) community educational program. According to Chief Operating Officer Linda Sloan, they plan to open the creative labs later this year.  

“So, creative members can come and utilize that space after training. But they’ll have access to professional-grade equipment like photography equipment, darkroom equipment, printmaking equipment, and ceramics. Things like that,” said Murphy. “So we plan to be able to open that up and have creative members in the community in that space.”

Overall, Arrow Creative is giving local artists, makers, and businesses resources, work and artistic development, and outreach programs that will allow them to grow and thrive in the Memphis entrepreneurial space.

Edited by Whitney Edna Ibe


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