The closure of non-essential businesses across Australia was a turning point for our local creative community, with many artists, photographers and musicians suddenly seeing sales drop and new commissions disappear.
Isaebella Doherty, a photographer in regional Victoria, was one of those affected, and the cafe she worked at part-time was also closing for the foreseeable future.
So Doherty messaged fellow photographer Bronte Pleasance with an idea for an online art store with a flat rate of $100 for all prints.
“We decided on Wednesday we’d have the shop up by Thursday,” Doherty tells Broadsheet. “We wanted to make a quick solution for a wider problem, and when we spoke to artists they all said, ‘Yes, yes, yes. Yes please!’”
At the moment, the site has nearly 200 works from more than 60 Australian artists. “The response has been ginormous,” Doherty says.
Works include striking landscape images by Doherty; a dark take on the Happy Meal by former advertising photographer Gil Gilmour; kid-friendly illustrations of joeys, wombats and other native animals by Melbourne-based artist Zoe Harriet; and dramatic black and white prints by photomedia artist Ebony Finck.
Local landmarks feature, too, from a vibrant green-and-purple print of the neon light Victoria Bitter sign erected above Melbourne’s Elsternwick Hotel in 1951, by photographer Em Jensen, to shots of South Australia’s coastline by Sam Kirby, and a moody moment at Milford Sound, just across the pond in New Zealand, by photographer Nathan Milner.
There’s even a visual representation of the iconic Seinfeld marine biologist scene by writer, poet and artist Frank Lord.
Doherty’s late grandmother’s work features, too, donated by her family, the proceeds of which will be donated to the other artists. “She would’ve loved to have been a part of it. So it’s nice for her legacy, and for her to be in a group show with the kids,” Doherty says.
Prints are unframed, and delivery costs extra. The $100 per print rate is divided three ways: $57.80 goes to the artist, $30 goes to the printer (Hound and Bone in Melbourne’s Brunswick), and the rest covers Cream Town’s overheads. There’s also an option to donate directly to artists.
Just a couple of weeks in, Cream Town had sold more than $10,000 worth of art.
“When you buy a print, you’re supporting an artist, a printer, and a collective initiative,” Doherty says. “[The low price] also makes it more accessible for people who typically wouldn’t be buying prints, or those who don’t have a big income at the moment."
Doherty first established the site eight years ago, with the intention of creating a collective for local musicians, artists and filmmakers to collaborate and share their work. But she never had the time to properly establish it.
“I’ve had the domain for all these years with the hope it would become something, and so it made sense to share the love,” she says. “It’s about recognising that we’re all in the same boat right now, and everyone deserves the same opportunity.”