2016/05/12

Creative People in Florence + The Creative Collective

Creative People in Florence © Birgitte Brøndsted

The artworks behind Sara and Anna are by American artist Alexandra Wong who recently exhibited at The Creative Collective. 

Today I am going to introduce you to Sara Amrhein and Anna Rose who are the girls behind the popular group and network Creative People in Florence. 

When I moved to Florence five years ago local blogs and Facebook were my main sources for getting to know people. One of the first persons I met was Sara, an American artist and jewelry designer (who also happened to have a blog back then). 

Together we got the idea of starting a Facebook group where all kinds of creative people in Florence could connect with each other. While setting up a Facebook group was easily done, I quickly realized though that I didn't have enough time to play an active role within the group.

Fortunately in the meantime another American artist, Anna Rose, had gotten involved with the group and lots of things started to happen; studio visits, creative aperitivi, workshops and much more.

Today - five years later-  the group has more than 3000 members and an official status as a cultural association. I think it is safe to say that Sara and Anna have managed to take Creative People in Florence to a place no one could have ever imagined. Wow!

The latest project from Sara and Anna is the Creative Collective which offers a space for artists in Florence to show their work to the public. You can read more about that in the interview at the end of the post.

I stopped by in Via di Mezzo to meet the girls, pet Sara's adoring cat, Michelangelo... and to document the preparations of the current exhibition by British artist John Skelcher at The Creative Collective.

Creative People in Florence © Birgitte BrøndstedCreative People in Florence © Birgitte BrøndstedCreative People in Florence © Birgitte Brøndsted
Creative People in Florence © Birgitte BrøndstedCreative People in Florence © Birgitte BrøndstedCreative People in Florence © Birgitte BrøndstedCreative People in Florence © Birgitte BrøndstedCreative People in Florence © Birgitte Brøndsted
Creative People in Florence © Birgitte BrøndstedCreative People in Florence © Birgitte BrøndstedCreative People in Florence © Birgitte BrøndstedCreative People in Florence © Birgitte Brøndsted
Creative People in Florence © Birgitte BrøndstedCreative People in Florence © Birgitte Brøndsted
Creative People in Florence © Birgitte Brøndsted
Creative People in Florence © Birgitte Brøndsted
Creative People in Florence © Birgitte Brøndsted
Creative People in Florence © Birgitte Brøndsted
Creative People in Florence © Birgitte BrøndstedCreative People in Florence © Birgitte BrøndstedCreative People in Florence © Birgitte Brøndsted

I N T E R V I E W   

First of all: What is Creative people in Florence? What is the story behind the group and how did it all start? 

Anna: Creative People in Florence is a network of artists, designers, artisans and creative thinkers in Florence. The founding principle of the group has always been to foster collaboration between members to help each other both creatively and professionally. We organize networking aperitivi, studio visits with artists, art shows, and other events for our members to highlight the contemporary arts happening here and now in Florence. Through these activities as well as through our Facebook group, website, and social media accounts members connect, collaborate and grow.

Sara: After graduating art school in 2006 and moving back to Florence after already having lived here for four years, I really began to miss having an artists community around me. I missed the feedback and having people who could help me get though creative rough patches or to share in the excitement of creative accomplishments. I was also trying to grow my art practice and jewelry business and I knew that in order to do that I needed to have a professional portfolio but my attempts at photography, styling, graphic design, etc, were much less than professional. I studied fine art not all of these other disciplines so I figured that if I needed to grow my portfolio then there must be others around who needed to do the same thing, and that we could somehow share our skills with each other and promote each other’s work this way.

I was writing a blog called When in Florence at the time and I wrote a post in the idea and also put out an add on Craigslist and had a pretty good response to that. (This is how I met you, Birgitte). I began an interview series on the blog about artists and designers in Florence in collaboration with Birgitte and this is how we met Anna and with her help things have been growing and developing ever since.

Who are the members in the group?

Anna: That’s a great question! We wish we knew everyone, but with over 3000 Facebook members, that’s becoming a little tricky. The group is extremely diverse and getting more so everyday. There are visual artists, fashion designers, photographers, writers, performing artists, bloggers, art historians, artisans from all over the world who have chosen Florence as their creative base. One of the main strengths of the group is its diversity. With so many different backgrounds, talents, and interests coming together, you never know what’s going to happen next!

You have recently started the Creative Collective. Tell me about that.

Sara: I am extremely lucky to have a studio/showroom space in the center of Florence where I create my jewelry. The space is a bit larger than what I need for jewelry design so this past August we decided to make some changes and open up some space to host some of our members work. As artists ourselves, we know how difficult and how expensive it is to find space to show your work in Florence and we really wanted to foster this idea of community and professional growth and give our members the opportunity to get their work out in public. This is our small way of helping and support each others art careers.

We also host a series of workshops at The Creative Collective. These are all workshops that our members have proposed to us and designed using their various skills and disciplines. It is also now the official headquarters for the Creative People in Florence Cultural Association. We always welcome our members to stop in and see the work on display or share their ideas with us. You can often find Anna and I here working together and brainstorming new ideas and concepts for the group. If you are interested in participating in The Creative Collective you can find all the details on our blog.

Generally speaking what do you think are the main challenges for artists and artisans today? And what are the advantages?

Anna: Being an artist is not easy. Choosing that field means accepting the risks that go along with building your own product or vision, and relying almost entirely on yourself to make it happen. It takes a huge amount of passion and generates an endless series of doubts along the way. On a practical level it can be challenging to find your target audience and to understand how to earn a living from your work, while all the while keeping fresh ideas flowing. I think the advantage of this type of work is of course the satisfaction that comes from a successful piece or product.

Sara: I would agree with everything that Anna said and I would add that as artists we have to wear many hats. Not only do we have to always be ready with new and exciting ideas and designs but we also have to photograph our work, market it, sell it, etc etc. We are constantly making ourselves vulnerable by putting a pice of ourselves out into the world and knowing that people may not like what we do - we hear ‘no’ more often then we hear ‘yes’ and that can get difficult. I think being a contemporary artist and designer in Florence is especially challenging; introducing contemporary ideas and methods to a traditional city is often met with resistance. I think there is also this misconception that being an artist is romantic and easy therefore getting paid for your work can also be challenging at times. But of course there are advantages too, being able to create our own schedule or travel to show our work in other cities around the world isn’t so bad.

How do you think Creative people in Florence and the Creative Collective have influenced (or can influence) the general conditions for artists and artisans in Florence?

Anna: Most importantly CPiF offers a community to the artists and artisans of the city. As an artist, I know that without the support and inspiration I get from a community of creators, my job becomes a lot harder. I think most artists and artisans would agree that we thrive on ideas, on meeting new people and learning new things. CPiF has created an accessible and friendly platform for just that. Beyond building that network, we hope that CPiF also draws attention to Florence’s contemporary creative scene and makes residents and visitors more aware of the exciting things going on in the city.

Sara: I think Anna’s answer is perfect. I will add that we really hope that we can open people’s minds up to new ways of working and show them that Florence is more than just the Renaissance. It’s about continuing to be innovative and create great work - that all started in the Renaissance but it doesn’t need to stop there. That’s not what the spirit of the Renaissance was about, it was about forward thinking and that’s what we hope to facilitate with CPiF. Being inspired by the history of this city doesn’t only mean repeating it, to us it means remembering that they were the contemporary artists of their time and that they too met with resistance and doubt. We hope that we encourage artists to move beyond traditional art making methods.

What are your plans with the group for the future?

Anna: Because the group is so diverse and is constantly growing, it’s hard to say what the future holds. In many ways we let the group tell us where it wants to go. We have recently become a cultural association and hope to be able to extend our network to collaborate with local organizations supporting the arts.

Sara: We are always looking for ways to spread the word about our group and its members. We are constantly on the lookout for places and spaces to hold events and get our work out in public. We have some ideas in the works and hope to be able to extend our reach and collaborate with some other organizations while staying focused on what makes Florence and its artists so unique. All we know is that we couldn’t be happier with the way this group has grown and developed over the years, we never imagined we would be where we are now, we can only hope that things continue the way they have - for us it's all been beyond our expectations and that’s a great feeling.

You find The Creative Collective in Via di Mezzo 6. To read more about the group make sure you visit the blog/website of Creative People in Florence, join the Facebook group and follow them on Instagram (members take turn in posting on the account so it's also a great way to get to know more about the people in the group) Pinterest, and Twitter

If you want to learn more about Sara and Anna and what they do when they are not busy with Creative People in Florence this is where you can find them online:

Sara Amrhein: Website, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter
Anna Rose: WebsiteInstagram
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