Building an online community of creatives, with Larissa Ramey ’19

For Larissa Ramey, making her art and building a creative life is just part of the goal:

Finding ways to make that art available to communities that aren’t always included in “the art world,” or who don’t often have access to art, is just as crucial. And it’s what makes the Leesburg, Va.-based Ramey so excited about what online artistic communities can offer.

Since graduating last year from PCA&D with her BFA in Photography, Ramey has joined Darkside Collective. There, her role as administrative partner involves branding, social media, being on the looking for emerging talent, and handling outreach to other creatives and collectives. Founded by Nat Raum, whom Ramey met four years ago at a Society for Photographic Education Conference in Florida, Darkside Collective is an online space that provides artistic critiques, in-person meetups, visibility, and career resources.

And now it’s published its first zine, Map to the Darkside, juried on the theme of “place.”

What’s it like to build that new community of creatives once you’ve graduated from art college — and what role can the digital world play in helping artists find each other and reach audiences who wouldn’t find them easily otherwise?

Here’s Ramey’s experience:

What has inspired Darkside Collective, and why create a zine? Did you have experience with zines at PCA&D?

LR: What drew me to Darkside Collective is the community. My inspiration every day is being able to keep in touch with creatives and engage with others that want to keep making. A zine for us is a great way to showcase work and members. It is an easy-to-produce form that can reach a vast audience. I have made multiple zines before, (and) took Bookmaking at PCA&D. I still hand-make photo books as a part of my practice, as does Nat. So we are both experienced in bookmaking and our members loved the idea of being in a photo book together. 

What work of yours is included in Map to the Dark Side? Did the zine change how you approached your photography or your choice of subjects?

LR: I have three images in the zine. Every member has three works. Zines have made me think heavily about accessibility, audience, and how my work translates in book format. Themes in my work are race, identity, heritage, and body image. For me, it is important to have my work reach communities that are not regularly included or have access to art. As a woman of color, book format has always attracted me because of the ability to add to the value and process of an image and put said images into multiple formats. 

What’s your hope for Darkside Collective?

LR: To continue building and maintaining our collaborative outlet. As a collective, Nat and I want to engage and bring artists together and keep them together. Our goals for 2020 are to have another zine in the works, reach a wider audience and gain more members cross-country, and launch our upcoming exhibitions and workshops. 

What’s your hope for the zine? To continue to produce editions with new work?

LR: Our goal for the zine is to create more visibility for our member and collective. So far it is off to a great start and we are all very proud of Map to the Darkside. Yes, we plan to continue the tradition of members’ zines.

 

You can find out more about Darkside Collective here, or follow it on Instagram here. The group also has just started a members’-curated online initiative.

 

Larissa, what was the biggest challenge in pulling off this project?

LR: The biggest challenge for me is to reach new audiences and stay online constantly, and making sure I catch new and upcoming artists. I am an artist who loves to collaborate (and) learn with and from other artists so, with this in mind, it is just about upkeep. However, we have received a lot of support not only from our members but from others who see our hard work, both online and from Nat and I promoting. It is just about perspective, and with this project, Map to the Darkside is about showcasing our members and promoting our community. Darkside Collective aims to provide resources and information to help with career establishment and increased artist visibility. Our community is a team and we are here to share and create diversity across our represented mediums.

If someone would like to see or get a copy of Map to the Darkside, how can they do that?

LR: They can find it here.

 

Map to the Darkside photos by Larissa Ramey:

Larissa photo 1

Larissa photo 2

Larissa photo 3