In 2018, women are often taught that other women are their competitors. No matter the industry, finding success and climbing the ladder is often defined by stepping on the heads and shoulders of others; a dog-eat-dog, catty competition to be the best.
When local artist Julia Mason quit her full-time teaching job to pursue a life of freelance work, she realized how necessary it was to build a support system—a web of women who had their own stories and experiences with art, a community who understood how pointless it would be to fight for the spotlight.
She was inspired by ban.do’s agendas: a product that includes the art of multiple women, aimed at bringing inspiration and organization to other women’s lives. Mason successfully sold a calendar of her own watercolor prints last year but realized she could create a local collaborative effort to better the next product.
Thus, the Female Artists of Omaha calendar was born.
“I wanted the calendar to act as a real life Instagram Discover page,” Mason said. “I wanted people to pick up this calendar because they know one artist and then meet 11 other talented people they didn’t know existed. I wanted it to be functional and beautiful, and I know every artist needs small jobs to supplement their craft.”
The project began when Mason group messaged some of her favorite women artists on Instagram at the tail end of June. She encouraged the group to submit whatever they wanted; trying to not confine any artist to a monthly theme or feel pressured to quickly create something to go to print.
In addition, a personal biography is listed underneath each piece of art, giving clients the opportunity to better engage with their favorite artists and easily access their other works.
“It was challenging to work with a big group,” Mason said. “But I find that it’s more powerful and impactful because this project is 12 women versus just one selling their work. I’ve collaborated with other local businesses and creatives before, but this seems like something much bigger than just me. By sharing this on social media, we are able to promote one another. In this business, word of mouth and networking is everything.”
Each calendar will be priced at $25, and instead of being sold in a handful of places or websites and splitting the profits among the 12 artists, each woman has the rights to the entire calendar and can control how many she orders and sells. This means everyone can post the listing individually on their e-commerce websites, bring copies to various local markets and shows, and sell the pieces in their studios—or simply to family and friends.
Mason said she hopes this system will be easier and help promote a sense of individuality within the collective effort.
Contributing artist Courtney Mattern definitely felt that underlying support from the beginning, saying that the theme of the whole project was “teamwork makes the dream work.”
“Communities are so much stronger when they come together — and the same is true for Omaha’s female artist community,” Mattern said. “While our work can be competitive, we each bring something different to the table. When we collaborate and promote each others’ work, we’re making more room at the table for all female artists to share their gifts and gain recognition.”
The women involved in this project create two-dimensional pieces of artwork that range from watercolors to calligraphy to digital print pieces. Some women work solely as artists, while others are teachers Mason met through her position in Omaha Public Schools. Some women are entrepreneurs (Ms. February, Jasmyn Wichert, owns Amateur Coffee, and another artist is married to the owner of Coneflower Creamery)—but arguably, all women are dynamic creators who deserve equal time and space to share their work.
“Often in society, men who create are deemed artists while women who create are ‘just doing arts and crafts,’” Mattern said. “Amplifying the voice of women artists validates our work and gives us visibility. We are professional artists, we are entrepreneurs, and our unique perspectives shine through in our work.”
To learn more and encourage the shine of these 12 artists, visit any of the links below: