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Supporting Artists & Building Community

Shoebox Arts emerged a decade ago as Shoebox PR, an organization dedicated to assisting artists in marketing their exhibitions and artwork. Driven by a personal epiphany during a solo exhibition, founder Kristine Schomaker recognized a need to bridge the gap between artistic creativity and effective promotion. Drawing from her background in the medical field and using her administrative expertise, she channeled her passion for the arts into founding Shoebox Arts as a way to respond to the need for comprehensive artist support. Over time, it expanded its horizons beyond Los Angeles, offering its resources, education, mentorship, and public relations support to artists internationally. Schomaker opened Shoebox Projects shortly after, an alternative art space at the Brewery Arts Complex near downtown LA that hosts residencies, exhibitions, and more. The organization  turned to CaFÉ in 2021 to collect entries and cast a wider net for these opportunities.

Opening Doors to New Artists with CaFÉ

As an artist who had used CaFÉ to find shows herself, Schomaker sought out using the administrator side of the platform to solve two significant challenges: reaching a broader audience and streamlining the submission process. “The biggest challenge that led me to using CaFÉ was how to get the word out to more artists,” she said. “Social media helps, but everyone seems to know about CaFÉ.” With an expanded reach, Shoebox arts is able to open its doors to new artists and make a greater impact.

Learn more about Bloom, one of Shoebox Projects’ latest exhibitions.

Photo of the bloom exhibition at Shoebox Projects

Another challenge for Schomaker was organizing the entries she received for an open call. “Without a good management system, it’s time consuming,” she said. “Cataloging, communications, reviewing for eligibility, and readying the entries for blind jurying. It’s too easy to make errors.” Leveraging CaFÉ’s features, she and her team now spend more time interacting with artists, and less time keeping track of applications and entry fees.

Eight people standing in a circle at an art gallery looking at one artist speaking

A Multifaceted Approach to Supporting Artists

Shoebox Arts’ diverse array of programs and services showcases Schomaker’s commitment to empowering artists. From social media guidance to personalized consultations, Schomaker leans into her research abilities to tailor her offerings and meet the unique needs of each artist. “I cull through many resources to bring information together and let artists choose what works for them. We talk things through and I offer the best advice based on their experiences.” Artists can also become members for access to online Q&A meetings, book clubs, co-working sessions, outside critique, and meet-ups in person at local galleries. On top of that, members get a solo show opportunity in the Shoebox Projects space. These initiatives demonstrate Shoebox Arts’ mission to help cultivate artists’ careers and create a community that fosters learning and growth.

Part of creating such a community includes embracing digital platforms to bring together artists regardless of their location. Offering Zoom meetups not only helps local artists avoid Los Angeles traffic but also removes geographic barriers so any artists can join regardless of location. “I am grateful to be in Los Angeles, which is one of the centers of the art world, but I also know the importance of finding your community,” said Schomaker, who understands the benefits of sharing insights and experiences among a group of people.

Ongoing Growth and Collaboration

When envisioning the future of Shoebox Arts, Schomaker sees more events at the project space and a bigger, yet still close-knit community of artists. Collaborating with others and finding new ways to work with artists and organizations are always on the table, too. Above all, Schomaker looks forward to seeing more artists grow their careers. “Seeing them get into more and more shows and being able to experience their successes alongside them. That is the beating heart of Shoebox—its artists.”

Eight people smiling at the camera, gathered at an art gallery

Photos by Kristine Schomaker, courtesy of Shoebox Arts.