Mikayla Heightshoe, Contributing Writer
The sun shone down on the ring of tables lining the amphitheater’s grass steps as students and pedestrians crowded around artists who sold their diverse products, from original character designs and fan-based prints to masks, buttons, greeting cards and t-shirts.
The Communication Arts Student Advisory Board, or CASAB, held an art market by The Compass at 914 Park Ave. on Feb. 12 for students in the communication arts department to sell their artwork, including sophomore communication arts student Vivian Trinh.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to just get your art out there and just meet new people and get the experience,” Trinh said.
The CASAB is a student-run organization within VCUarts in the communication arts department that advocates for students, disputes fair job opportunities and addresses any concerns students may have regarding the department, according to CASAB chair and junior communication arts student Jane Rinaldi.
Starting an art market for students to sell their work has been a goal of CASAB since the board’s creation in 2020, according to Rinaldi.
“This is a way for comm art students to get some experience. A way that our people make money is through market events like this, or tabling at conventions,” Rinaldi said. “So, we wanted to give students an opportunity.”
Rinaldi said their focus this semester is to build more community within the communication arts program, such as introducing more events like game nights and sip-n-paint.
“I think it’s extra important, considering Zoom school, there hasn’t been much opportunity for people in communication arts during this time to have friends and feel like they’re a part of something,” Rinaldi said.
The market was composed of 20 tables, two artists per table, with a first-come, first-serve sign-up and a community table for those who could not be present but wanted to sell their art, according to Rinaldi.
Rinaldi said they hope to make a communication arts market a regular occurrence, specifically every first Friday of the month to align with Richmond Art District’s First Friday, a signature city event that opens galleries, shops and more to celebrate art, according to Rinaldi.
Rinaldi took on the responsibility of starting an advisory board after a mass email was sent out to communication arts students for a job opportunity not up to industry standards, such as underpaying for commission that required long hours, and feared that inexperienced students would be taken advantage of, according to Rinaldi.
Rinaldi said they immediately reached out to VCUarts administration about the potential exploitation and found the department had previously tried to put an advisory board together.
VCUarts administration believes CASAB is an important organization for the department, especially given the size of the program, according to Chair of Communication Arts Matt Wallin.
“We have almost 500 students, and given the size, community becomes something that’s really important for the student body to be able to maintain in our building and beyond,” Wallin said.
Wallin said the advisory board is a “great way” for students to self-organize and communicate, and this market allows students to gain experience.
“I think stuff like this is such a great experience because it really forces the individual artists in a big group, in a safe and fun setting,” Wallin said. “But it forces the individual artists to be able to talk about their work and communicate with people who may be interested in what it is that their jam might be.”
This market has been “really helpful” for students who have never done market or sales before, according to sophomore communication arts student Lili Linder.
“I hope to get my name out there,” Linder said. “I hope to make comics one day, so getting my name out there is a very big step for me.”
Students, parents and teachers came out to support the artists throughout the day, including VCU Digital Illustration and Concept Drawing professor Morgan Sawyer.
“It’s fantastic. I love seeing all the student work and the level of progression,” Sawyer said. “I’ve gotten to teach most of these students and see them grow and their talents really flourish. The initiative to come out and put your work in front of people is really hard and fantastic to see.”