Local Black Woman-Owned Visual Arts Incubator Goes All In For Bipoc Artists
Dionna Collins empowers artists through Atlanta’s most inclusive community of resources for BIPOC entrepreneurs in the creative space Thursday, February 17, 2022
Nestled near Knight Park/Howell Station sits Atlanta’s ComfiArt, an arts incubator program that has quietly pushed artists of color to the forefront. ComfiArt is a one-stop resource hub that empowers visual artists with the necessary tools to monetize their creative work.
“For decades, the recognition and success of Black and POC artists have lagged behind, not because of talent but, access,” says ComfiArt Founder, Dionna Collins. “Any artist could be the next Kara Walker, Amy Sherald, or Victoria Villasana. However, the affordability of management, legal support, corporate partnerships, e-commerce integration, studio space, and community
visibility remain obstacles for Black and POC artists.”
ComfiArt provides free membership and introduction to its network through, ComfiCommunity, in which “neighbors” have access to exclusive content, virtual networking sessions, Q&As, downloadable resources, and early access to ComfiArt events. Nationally-recognized visual artist, Marryam Moma raves, “I have learned a lot about the business of art, branding, and studio management [through ComfiArt] which has directly impacted my business and increased my revenue.”
Over the past five years, ComfiArt has nurtured a select group of almost 100 artists through its signature program, Design and Muse. The program helps artists enter the e-commerce space in innovative ways. In a one-on-one environment, creatives are introduced to ComfiArt’s community of artists, coaches, managers, legal representatives, and marketing professionals.
Participants have transformed their original artwork into wearable merchandise, interior home decor, holiday wrapping paper, and an array of monetizable products — all unlocking opportunities for creatives to open additional streams of income. “Creating for ComfiArt Design and Muse allowed me to transform my visual art into wearable art,” says emerging artist Zarinah
Dennis of Bitter Darlings. “I feel [even more] connected to the lovers who’ve supported me, and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity,” says Zarinah.
As Design and Muse prepares for this year’s launch, Collins credits its ongoing success to Atlanta’s relentless support for Black and POC businesses, female entrepreneurs, and cultural empowerment. “Our approach,” says Collins, “is to ensure artists in every one of our programs are set up for sustainable success and exposure to opportunities beyond gallery walls.”
ComfiArt also positions artists for corporate partnerships, mural commissions, business and peer-to-peer collaborations. “The collectiveness of the ComfiArt community provides BIPOC artists access to relationships and resources that expand their audience reach while closing equity gaps,” explains Collins.
In addition to supporting the artists via development, Collins advocates for pay equity. “Many talented artists simply can’t afford to rent a one-bedroom apartment. We must lay to rest the notion of starving artists,” says Collins. Artist advocacy is a socio-economic empowerment tool, and our local creatives add layers to the fabric of Atlanta’s cultural community.
“From the preschooler dabbling in hand paint to the creative selling fine art, we all encounter the world as an artist of sorts. It is my goal to encourage the recognition of all artists regardless of classification, genre, identification, or orientation,” Collins emphasizes. “This month, we stand at the intersection of Black history and Black opportunity. We must continue the work of
our heroes because, that too, is how we pay homage,” says Collins.
ComfiArt kicks off its 2022 program, “Connect with ComfiArt: The ART of Business,” on Tuesday, February 22 at 12:30 p.m. EST, via a virtual meet and greet.