Gen Art is an institution, forever pushing to highlight emerging artists across film and fashion.
Keri Ingvarsson is the co-owner/partner of GenArt, an institution spanning the United States with the goal of highlighting emerging artists across film and fashion. Having surpassed its 20th birthday, GenArt continues with its mission in an updated manner and focused goal. We sat down with partner Keri Ingvarsson to chat about the history and direction of the organization along with GenArt’s partnership with Mondrian Los Angeles to present the weekly Dive In Theater on Monday nights.
When was GenArt created and what was its original purpose?
GenArt was founded in 1994. It was a visual art company at the time that looked to highlight young, emerging artists in New York City and bring the consumer audience to the artist. It was a direct to consumer model to support artists. The model lived on a platform, which was the live event. GenArt was a social medium before social media really existed.
How has it evolved to what it is today?
It started in 1994 and we added a film program and a festival which went on for 17 years and a fashion program, called Fresh Faces in Fashion. Each pillar aimed at supporting emerging talent and bringing them directly to consumers. The industry really started to take note on what GenArt was doing. The membership and a lot of events grew largely during the 2000s. We weathered the recession but in 2010, we hit a dip and new owners bought the company, then I bought the company two years ago. So where we are today is that we still highlight emerging designers but we’re bigger storytellers. We’re bigger content players. We don’t just do live events. We work with the artist, the fashion designer, the film maker, from point of discovery to help their brand. Live events are still a yes. For example, in fashion, we’ll still do a runway show, but we look deeper. How can we help these brands sell? We have partnerships with brands that are selling to the consumer i.e. Bloomingdales, Shop Spring, etc. We’ve opened up an agency within GenArt called The Accelerator. We call it The Accelerator because everyone has an incubator. In theory, an incubator is a great thing because it nurtures young, young talent. With The Accelerator, we’re looking for those a couple of years into their careers. It might be that filmmaker that might already be a working filmmaker. Maybe they’ve even had their first feature, but they’re struggling with their second. Or maybe they’re working with shorts or a successful TV producer but want to do films. We shelter, harness and promote those projects. It’s the same with fashion. I guess you could say we’ve evolved because we’ve created a sales platform for talent and we’re not working with the talent that’s as young as the talent when GenArt started. Why? Well there’s a lot now for young talent. Universities have taken note. CFDA has an incubator. In film, there are thousands of film festivals. We fill in the gaps of adapting to the times and what does talent need now from GenArt that’s missing.
How do you pick who you work with?
Everything is contest based within GenArt meaning we assemble a jury of experts i.e. Betsey Johnson, Trina Turk, Greg Armis and a lot of big players in the fashion industry are on the GenArt fashion jury. We do the same in film i.e. the producer Tom DeSanto (who created Transformers and executive produced X-Man), Kweku Mandela, etc. So we assemble these juries of experts in each area and we work alongside them to think about how are we going to relevantly find these candidates – we don’t want a sweepstakes or anything gimmicky. We brought back Fresh Faces in Fashion and we will bring back the GenArt Film Festival. They apply through Fresh Faces in Fashion and 1100 entries becomes 20 finalists becomes three (presenting runway shows) becomes one finalist. We just did the GenArt Fresh Faces in Fashion LA. Again we ran a large contest and we chose five designers, then in October we’ll announce the one finalist who will join The Accelerator.
The new GenArt is sales/results driven – we don’t wait because we already have our brands from last year on Bloomindales and our brands from last week on ShopSpring.com for sale. We make sure sales happen right after our big PR event. Next thing we’re looking at is sophomore talent that’s working more in the industry because we can help them more since they’re ready to sell and go. The third part is looking towards the future. The way the new GenArt looks at the future is on a more global, impactful scale. How can we replicate this model globally?
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