Celebrating the Achievements of Local Women in Design
Women Lead: Celebrate! is an ongoing series of mini-features and highlights to celebrate the many achievements of local Women/Woman-identifying Designers and Creatives in our Cleveland community. Are you a woman/woman-identifying designer or creative that would you like to nominate yourself or someone else to be featured? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Featuring: Stephanie Kluk
Founder of Future Ink Graphics (FIG)
Current: Development Director at CAN Journal
Past: Program Director for the Chicago Artists’ Coalition, Program and Community Enrichment Manager at Art House, Inc., Co-Executive Director of Zygote Press
Areas of Expertise: Printmaking, Art Installations, Photography, Digital Art & Design
Cleveland Connection: Born and raised in Cleveland. Boomeranged from Columbus to Chicago and back to Cleveland.
The Future of Digital Art and Design
Stephanie’s energy and enthusiasm for art and design are infectious. Speaking with her about her soon-to-launch venture, Future Ink Graphics (FIG), one can’t help but get excited about the vision. FIG is an arts organization with programs focused specifically on three areas: graphic design, digital art, and silkscreen. FIG will serve the Clark-Fulton neighborhood of Cleveland with a dedicated space in the upcoming arts hub currently underway in the Pivot Center for Arts, Dance and Expression building complex.
FIG is the culmination of Stephanie’s years of experience as an arts advocate and administrator. Her various roles in the arts – and being an artist herself – has allowed her to identify the needs and challenges that can make it difficult for artist communities to thrive. Through FIG, Stephanie envisions art and design as integral to the broader community in which it resides, with a focus on diversity, community building and preservation, and entrepreneurship.
While FIG has been a dream of Stephanie’s for some time, the pandemic has been both a catalyst and an obstacle to navigate. Nonetheless, since the official kick-off of FIG in June 2020, things have moved quickly. Stephanie has been at work to prepare the physical space in the Pivot Center and develop future programs (while she adapts current programming to current COVID-19 conditions), secure partnerships and look for opportunities to fundraise.
Advocacy for Art as A Viable Business
One of the most exciting aspects of Stephanie’s vision is her strong desire to help creatives build a viable business model around their work. Many young people are discouraged early on from the development of their artistic talents due to a perceived lack of opportunities to make a living. As technology has advanced and automation has replaced many repeatable tasks, creativity has risen to the forefront as one of the most sought after skills in any career. Stephanie recognizes this and wants to nurture and support creativity as a valuable part of our economic landscape.
Here are a few future FIG programs that are currently in the planning stage:
- Art Education: At a previous organization, Stephanie recalls a story from an artist-in-residence who invited a group of 7th graders from a local school for a workshop. The artist asked the kids to draw whatever they wanted. Kids who had never been exposed to an art program waited on instruction on what to draw. In contrast, the kids that had experienced some type of arts programming dove right in. This reinforced to Stephanie the importance of exposing kids to art and creative thinking to continue to fuel their imaginations.
- Career Workshops: In-depth programming to show both kids and adults the in’s-and-outs of art as a profession.
- Studio Access: Many budding artists and designers lack access to quality materials, equipment, software and mentorship, which can affect their competitive edge. FIG aims to provide these resources to the community.
- Local Art for a National Audience: FIG will run a physical and online store featuring the work of local artists and designers.
- Local FIG: A phase two program, Local FIG is a cohort of sponsored artists who, for 6-months, will get access to resources to help build a business around their art. The goal is to provide this program to 10 artists a year, focusing on women and POC. Stephanie is also exploring the option of a Family Residency to ensure artists can balance their art with family responsibilities.
How To Support FIG:
Currently, Stephanie is securing corporate sponsorships and foundation support for start-up and launch costs. She is inviting interested parties, both potential donors and artists to come and visit the space (socially distanced with COVID protocols) and learn more about the organization. As she builds out the program, she is always on the lookout for those interested in hosting events (online or in-person in the future) or professionals who want to provide their expertise in the form of workshops or mentorship.
If you are part of a corporation that would be interested in providing sponsorship for artists-in-residence, or to provide start-up funds, Stephanie would love to hear from you.