Being an artist requires experimentation and dedication. For some, being an artist isn’t just a title; it’s an essential part of their self-expression and overall life. Alex Torres, for example, is a painter, designer, and musician. Over the past decade he has devoted himself to cultivating his identity and artwork.
Alex’s devotion paid off in January 2015 when the Brooklyn Arts Council awarded him a Community Arts Fund (CAF) grant in the amount of $1,000. He received the grant to develop his clothing line, Baby Skills. Alex was able to bring his designs to life using the digital platform, to.be. With his t-shirt designs printed and tangible for the first time, Alex had to experiment with and dedicate himself to selling them. Alex has always wanted to sell his artwork. For him, this has always been more satisfying than traditional job roles filled by people with disabilities.
Alex connected with the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership to sell his t-shirts at the Albee Square Farmer’s Market over the summer. Every Friday in June and part of July, Alex set up a table, interacted with potential customers, and handled cash and credit for the shirts he sold. While Alex had shown his paintings at a few galleries (Silent Barn, Front Street Galleries, Arts Unbound), this marked the first time that Alex was directly engaged in the process of selling his work and courting customers. There was a big learning curve; Alex adjusted and readjusted his pitch, how his shirts were displayed, and prices week to week. Alex learned how to use the Square App to accept credit and debit payments for his shirts. After the Farmers’ Market, Alex had two more opportunities to display and sell his work through gallery shows at Gridspace and Pratt Institute. To date, Alex has sold 15 of the 20+ shirts printed with the grant money and made approximately $300. Alex is very grateful to have received the CAF grant for it was what made his dream possible.
Alex and his family plan to reinvest the money made from the shirt sales into Alex’s future artistic and musical pursuits as well as those of his Brooklyn Day Habilitation peers in the Arte Moose Collective.