What it Means to be The Infusion Project04 Mar 2015
- Written by Super User
An Interview with Teresa Magana, Pilsen Outpost Chicago
by Cachet Retsos
When I was presented with the opportunity to showcase our artist community and what it means to be The Infusion Project, I immediately turned to our friends and family at Pilsen Outpost in Chicago, located just around the corner from the Damen Pink Line. Teresa Magana, Pablo Ramirez and Diana Solis are the innovators behind this collective of creatives destined to provide our community with the support needed to come together and make positive change. It wasn’t easy, but I was able to pause Teresa’s life for just a moment so she could share some insight about the inner workings of Pilsen Outpost.
What is Pilsen Outpost?
Pilsen Outpost is an artist run retail shop and gallery in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. We specialize in contemporary urban art that vary from paintings, handmade products, custom toys, special edition prints, books, T-Shirts, and more. We are a space that not only provides established and emerging artists an environment to sell their work on consignment with us but also offer a dedicated exhibiting area in which we aim to use for shows for new or emerging artists looking to take a step further into their art exhibiting experience. With the same intent of supporting our talented artists by providing them a retail space, we aim at supporting our community by providing a retail environment that introduces and immerses customers in the unique and exciting work of local emerging community artists.
Who is behind Pilsen Outpost?
Pilsen Outpost began with three creatives working together as friends keeping each other company at art fairs and festivals who ended up realizing we wanted our weekend art hustle to become something more.
Diana Solis, the creative with the most years and experience in the art world under her belt. She is an art educator, illustrator and painter that has exhibited her work internationally and at all levels. She is one of the well known and respected Latina artists in the Pilsen neighborhood and Chicago. She has always in one way or another made a living with her art.
Pablo Ramirez, the conceptual artist who grew up with creatives of all sorts around him. With his background of union organizing, campaigning, and having a way with capturing people's attention with his words, (being a poet helps) he has brought the most successful creative ideas come to life with Pilsen Outpost.
Teresa Magana, the corporate mother of two, who decided to exchange life behind a computer for life in the art world. She is an emerging artist combining her business and instructional skills with the creative side she has always had.
What were the motivations behind starting Pilsen Outpost?
Pilsen Outpost had experience in presenting and selling work individually. But after spending a summer together we realized there were many advantages in working together. By sharing costs and expenses to vending, Pilsen Outpost was able to take more home in profit. What was even more motivating was the appeal Pilsen Outpost projected when selling together. We were vending so much at one point that our artist friends started asking if they could have some space on our tables to sell.
We honestly feel Pilsen Outpost was born organically and came to life because of the motivation of not just us, but the artists around us that were wanting to do more with their work. When the winter months were upon us, Pilsen Outpost sought out indoor venues to continue to vend. We had a modest roster of artists that wanted to continue to work with us, and we built on the Pop-Up-Shop concept to be able to continue do what we were doing outdoors. It felt good to create and build on this for ourselves but it became so much more satisfying when we were able to help other artists sell their work.
Once Pilsen Outpost started to hear, see and experience the community getting excited and
appreciating what we were offering them, the drive to keep building Pilsen Outpost became stronger. The customers, buyers, collectors, all of whom came in contact with the artwork Pilsen Outpost was sharing, validated not just the support we were providing for us as artists, but the need for the type of art Pilsen Outpost was exposing the community to.
All of this is what continues to motivate Pilsen Outpost to keep on this path.
What is similar and what has changed since Pilsen Outpost was a pop-up shop?
Transitioning from a pop-up to a full on retail shop allowed us to grow our modest roster of artists from 15 to now over 45 and still growing. Even with now having a storefront we still have maintained our 60/40 split; 60% for the artist 40% for the Pilsen Outpost. When asked, we always clarify because many artists have experienced a much lopsided commission split. The biggest change is that Pilsen Outpost can now offer dedicated exhibiting space for group or solo shows.
How will Pilsen Outpost evolve in the next coming years?
Pilsen Outpost has an ever growing list of ideas, projects and goals we'd like to reach with our
community and artists. There will be no limit to how much it will evolve. And as organically as Pilsen Outpost came about, even with plans in mind, we may end up becoming much more than we had ever thought. What we know right now, based on the support we've gotten from our artists and community alike, is that everything Pilsen Outpost has done and is setting out to do is being well received.
Pilsen Outpost was set up to provide support for artists. What's the best piece of advice you can give to those new to the art world from your experience over the years?
"When you start taking your own art seriously and treat it with the value and quality it is and deserves, others around you will start to treat it the same way. Your art will only take you as far as you want it to go. It truly is up to your time, efforts and commitment."
Can you explain the process artists (you represent) go through once you've taken them on?
There's a couple of steps before taking on a new artist. PIlsen Outpost encourages artists to visit our space and get a feel for what we have, and we get a feel of their work fitting in with the uniqueness of the shop. We go over our consignment agreement thoroughly with the artist so there is a clear understanding of the support they will get from Pilsen Outpost as far as displaying, talking about and selling their work. If we are not familiar with their work or style, we take the time to talk to them to learn all of this. We want to be able to talk about their work to anyone we see who has interest in purchasing. Pilsen Outpost handles the sales of all the work in our shop as if it were our own.
Pilsen Outpost’s consignment agreement is for 3 months which gives our shop a good opportunity to display and sell an artist's work, however if after those three months there is work still unsold we take the time to provide feedback to the artist in regards to pricing, or anything else we picked up on from customers checking out their work. We can then either adjust pricing or review new pieces to try out, or keep the pieces and continue on a month to month. We keep good communication with every artist.
Along with providing an avenue for artists to sell their work, Pilsen Outpost encourages artists to utilize our space for exhibiting, workshops, and creative events. If an artist is exploring new avenues with their art, Pilsen Outpost is open for consultation with what we can.
What can we expect from Pilsen Outpost this year?
Oh boy! Pilsen Outpost and everyone around us is expecting so much! This is a good thing. As mentioned earlier, Pilsen Outpost’s presence has been well received in the community we are in, people are excited to support every move.
What upcoming events can we look forward to?
Pilsen Outpost has art exhibits scheduled through June, workshops getting started this month of March, small and large vending in and around Chicago during the spring and summer, renegade art events, First Friday Art walks, making our Chicago Artists Month show bigger than last year, and celebrating our 1 year anniversary in November! Wheww...and probably more!