Interview with Illuminate.TO

Any artist can be pigeon holed into different categories like photographer or painter, but often artists like to explore all kinds of mediums to be able to express their work. At the same time, if an artist is only working in one field, it can be difficult to find artists in different fields to collaborate on different projects. Illuminate.TO came about to fix those issues and become a sort of hub for all artists regardless of what type to connect with other artists in the city and be able to connect with a wide variety of people.

Recently I had a chance to interview the founder of Illuminate.TO, Gianfranc Pipitone, about why having this is so important.

Rogues Portal: What is Illuminate.TO all about?
Gianfranc Pipitone: Illuminate.TO is an arts collective spanning various genre’s across the city. Focused specifically on promoting and creating conversation surrounding the independent arts. At Illuminate.TO we are all artists in our own fields of passion and want to be able to bring the creativity of others across the city under one umbrella. Almost like a record label for artists of any medium.

RP: What is your background and how does it relate to Illuminate.TO?
GP: My background in the arts is photography and music, having played in bands throughout high school I had a wide network of musicians. When I decided I wanted to go into filmmaking, I bought myself a camera and found my way into music photographer where I met a number of bands throughout the course of 2 years.

RP: How did you come up with the concept for it?
GP: The idea came about because of my involvement at places like The Silver Snail as well as various concert venue’s across the city (notably Annette Studios and anything put together by Dungus Records). I realized that Toronto has such a widespread spectrum of artists that it was difficult to network. Everything existed within its own little scene, pocketed from everything else. It essentially becomes a network of artists supporting themselves, but never developing.

Illuminate’s goal is to create bridges between those pockets, within similar mediums, but also across different mediums and almost act like a social network of artists passionate about art.

static1.squarespace.comRP: What events do Illuminate.TO host?
GP: We host monthly art shows at Annette Studios (third week of the month) as part of the Annette Studios Monthly Showcase featuring a Jazz Jam on the Thursday, ITO on Friday and Indie bands (Mayraki Presents) on the Saturday.

RP: How do you make what you’re doing distinct?
GP: We differ from other “arts publications” because we cater to the artists, not the fans. While art enthusiasts and fans of said artists are welcome aboard with what we are doing, we differ ourselves because we focus on the artist and their trials as independents.

RP: Why is Illuminate.TO important to you?
GP: I think Illuminate.TO is important because we are trying to cover something that no one else is actively exploring. In Toronto, there is so much happening, it’s difficult to give value to the little guys. It’s difficult to get noticed when everyone around you is trying to do the same thing. The struggle for the independents is immense and when you look at news publications that brand themselves as “small and indie” they are in fact only talking about the people who have already made it to some extent. No one cares about independent arts, but the more you delve into the community, you see the passion and the importance of it. We like to sum it up with the tagline, “By artists, for artists.”

Illuminate at the end of the day is an arts collective but also a collaborative artistic project, everyone part of it brings a unique passion and skill to the table, and with that comes a vast network of people doing really cool shit.

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