For the past 15 years, the Western Loudoun Art and Studio Tour has provided an opportunity for the community to visit artists' studios and see how various types of art is made, speak with the artists and purchase their work.
This year, when it became obvious a studio tour would not be possible due to the coronavirus pandemic, event organizers began to re-think how to promote the 53 participating artists and their juried artwork through a virtual event.
“From talking with our collection of artists we found that the virus is crushing their income. The tour is a very big event for our community, and we want to try to help the artists any way we can,” said event co-organizer Richard Fink, who has worked on the event with the help of a 12-member planning committee.
Fink came up with an idea to produce video interviews with all of the artists that they can promote on social media. The videos will feature their artwork -- including paintings, jewelry, pottery and more -- and showcase the artists in their studios.
“What I want is for the artists to talk about themselves. It is interesting to see the inner workings of the artists' minds, which is the great thing about the tour in-person. You get to see the demonstrations, which makes it interesting and an educational experience,” Fink said.
Over the past month, Fink has been producing four videos a week, and they are posted on the Western Loudoun Art and Studio Tour Facebook page. The interviews are aimed at being as close as possible to the actual tour, with artists discussing their artistic journey and some of their art.
“The real benefit is the artists get to use the video to promote themselves and hopefully provide the tour experience even though everyone is at home,” said G'Ann Zieger, another co-organizer of the event.
She said the tour is the largest art sale in northern Virginia and a significant portion of many of the artists' income for the year. This year was going to provide 34 stops. Last year they had 5,000 visits throughout the two-day event.
“It's a huge event, and not to have it is difficult. When patrons visit the artists they not only see the art and studio, they also sell classes. All that would be lost, and we want to offer a web presence for them,” said Zieger.
Other opportunities for the artists to promote themselves include Instagram takeovers and posting the videos on YouTube and their websites.
Fink said the videos have provided a way for many artists who did not already have an internet presence to learn how to use it to show their work.
“After this is over, the importance of connecting through the internet will still be bigger than before the virus came on board,” Fink said.
Zieger added, “Our goal is to make sure no one forgets the artists. This is disappointing but heartening that artists are participating and maybe seeing there are other ways to promote their art."
More information can be found at wlast.org.
Correction: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Zieger's last name.