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A Tote Full of Opportunity

Updated: Oct 5, 2021

When you walk the halls of Marwen’s building, you see the work of young and emerging artists hanging on our walls. Every work of art showcases their creativity, emotions, and the unique brilliance of these artists.

Earlier this year Marwen formalized our Commissions Program, expanding paid opportunities for young and emerging artists to expand their creative practice while growing their professional skills.

As part of this program, we commissioned three young and emerging artists to create tote bag designs for a new initiative, Friends of Marwen, a monthly giving program. The application was sent to nearly 100 young artists and families, in search of three artists to contract for the project. Applicants were asked about their artistic influences and what the Marwen community means to them.

Out of 27 applicants, 11 were interviewed, and the final three hired included Ameerah Coleman (she/they), Olivia Kluska (she/her), and Jacob Garcia (he/him).

“That’s really what is at Marwen’s heart -- being a place of joy and a place for people to express themselves.”

“I wanted to capture the fun and playfulness of Marwen, the different meldings of personalities, and the ways people like to spend their time and connect with each other. [On the tote design] you can see all of the little details of the fun quirky things different people do, which I feel like that’s Marwen -- all of us doing our own thing and then coming together and building a community. That’s really what is at Marwen’s heart -- being a place of joy and a place for people to express themselves.” - Ameerah Coleman

Ameerah is part of META (Marwen Emerging Teaching Artists) and has prior experience with commission work. She had been experimenting with totes herself when this opportunity was shared. Ameerah learned a lot from working with a printing company and the importance of creating a vectorized design. After this experience, Ameerah shared how she has learned more about herself as an artist, how to work with clients, and how to value her own creative abilities more.

“...everyone [at Marwen] works together to make this really lovely flowery community of artists who support each other…”

“What inspired me for this design was the very positive and loving community of Marwen. This growing flower design was inspired by how everyone [at Marwen] works together to make this really lovely flowery community of artists who support each other and bounce creativity off of each other.” - Olivia Kluska (grade 10)

Olivia is no stranger to commissioned work. Before working on the tote design with Marwen, she had already designed for events in middle school, t-shirts in high school, and posters for her local Tae Kwon Do studio. Olivia is eager to take her new client-facing skills and dive deeper into the freelance world.

"Each letter in my inspired by an arts practice or class at Marwen."

“My tote bag design is heavily influenced by my fascination with art graphics and how different fonts have their own personality. Each letter in my design stands for a different art style and is inspired by an arts practice or class at Marwen.” - Jacob Garcia (grade 12)

Jacob's previous commission work includes creating a greeting card as part of Marwen’s Design to Print course. His dedication to his work was unparalleled, given his studio time was cut short due to pandemic-related closures. He and his fellow artists finished their work from home with the support of delivered art kits. Jacob was excited to apply his typography interest and skills to this project, creating a beautiful reflection of Marwen’s creative community.

The tote commission project is one way that Marwen invests in the creativity of young artists. The Friends of Marwen monthly giving program is a critical component of Marwen’s fundraising strategy, and we are grateful to these young artists for giving us the secret sauce to make this program launch shine.

Want to see more awesome opportunities like this for young artists? Join the Friends of Marwen monthly giving program at any level. Your support helps us build reciprocal relationships with young people, create access to paid experiences, and nurture their growth through art and community.

Make a gift today and choose one of three Marwen totes designed by young artists in our commission program!

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