vae SPARKcon


We have retooled the Launch program to cultivate more artist leadership and community partnerships! Think you’d like to be a Launcher? Click here to sign up for our artist opportunities emails so you stay in the loop!


What is Launch?

Started in 2012, Launch is a year-round intensive for retail-minded crafters, makers, and artists who want to further their professional skills and gain retail experience. The goal is to give “Launchers” the skills, feedback, sales and exhibition opportunities they need to build a strong retail brand. The educational half of the program happens through mentorships and workshops with established area professionals and VAE staff, and focuses on marketing, professional presentation, display design, etc. The exhibition and sales half of the Launch program happens in the Launch retail space, located in the front of VAE’s gallery at 309 West Martin St, and in the SPARKcon bazaar in September.

Launch artists are encouraged to try new designs, collaborate and experiment during their time in the program. The public can view (and purchase) the artists’ work in the Launch storefront, with new inventory coming being unveiled each First Friday.


Here’s what past Launchers say about their experiences!


“Under the guidance of the Launch! program, my business, jbelle designs has grown, expanding my sales in galleries, boutiques, and online. Having VAE feature my work for an entire year led me to make important business connections that has brought me to where I am today. The workshops, mentors, and collaboration has been very enlightening, fun, and pushed jbelledesigns to new places. It makes me excited to continue to invest in my business.”

JANA SAUR, 2013 Launch Artist

*  *  *  *  *

“Launch has provided me with a great opportunity to experiment and expand my budding retail craft business. The guidance and feedback of the program directors will ensure my growth both as an artist and business woman in the months and years to come. It’s a great opportunity for an artist looking to expand their skill sets and scope of with their work in a local, supportive environment.”

AMY FRIEND, 2013 Launch Artist

 *  *  *  *  *

“Launch made me realize more is better. Having more clocks available over a longer period of time makes it more profitable [and] increases my odds of selling art. I like making pretty things, but I REALLY like when people pay me for them. [Launch] gave me proof that I can share with potential stores to show that my clocks sell.”

DAVE GREWAY, Launch 2012

 *  *  *  *  *

“First off, I just love VAE in general. I think you guys are providing extremely valuable opportunities for learning, growth, confidence building, as well as humility building, to emerging to advanced artists who take advantage of your program.  In a lot of ways, just VAE in itself is a fabulous incubator.  It definitely was and is for me. [Launch] was a fantastic opportunity to exhibit for a year, and it gave me a needed push to produce work during the year and just make it happen.  As always, the business programs were very good.

The very best thing to come out of my incubator experience was the collaborative work Emily Malpass and I started to do together as a result of showing together.  I learned a lot of logistical stuff (having to coordinate production schedules) as well as a lot of valuable art life stuff – trusting someone else to manipulate your work, coming to a vision for the work that would suit two people’s very different skill sets, being willing to try something drastically out of my comfort zone, being willing to try something that could very well fail.  We probably would have eventually tried something like this without incubator, but it would have taken us years to get there. Being able to be with other artists who were at a similar starting off spot in their artistic careers was wonderful.”