Artists unite through local collectives
Elm & Oak marries music and design
Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 23:03
Situated right off of Pearl Street Mall, Elm & Oak’s small size and limited merchandise may lead to the idea that it’s just another start-up. But it is larger and more influential than it first may appear.
Selling shirts, creating logos, and crafting art pieces, Elm & Oak serves as a design collective for local artists in the Boulder area. It’s also a record store and label.
Combining local artists work—whether it be music, artwork, video, or pho-tography—into a collective or brand is a movement taking Colorado by storm.
Though its presence has inhabited larger cities throughout the world, companies like Elm & Oak are the frontrunners in the Mile High, inspiring local artists to join together and share.
Wallace Gibbs III, better known as Berk Visual, founded the company in Norfolk, Virginia in 2005. Four years later he moved it to Boulder to join forces with Alex Botwin, who is known to the electronic music world as Alex B. of Paper Diamond.
Both local artists themselves, Berk Visual and Alex B. have a mission of in-spiring and sharing art of all kinds. Elm’s logo, two axes crossed, is meant to symbol-ize how, according to its blog, Elm & Oak is “a well rounded machine that can easily cut through the clutter of today’s market.”
The store itself is sparse, containing only a few clothing items, diverse art pieces, and skateboard decks. This is much different from other collective stores, like Mega Fauna in Denver, which has many different artists represented, different styles, and more items to be sold.
Its music label, on the other hand, is where Elm & Oak truly shines. The label supports dozens of artists—mostly dubstep, electronic, and hip hop—by designing websites and merchandise, coordinating shows, and promoting tracks.
The group also started Elm & Oak Academy, a program that conducts seminars with topics in music and art, with the CU Boulder Program Council. Classes are cen-tered on music business and production and are hosted two or three times each semester. They are also free for the university’s students.
Elm & Oak provides opportunities for unknown artists to rise up in the vast art world. By utilizing other artists, they can create a name for themselves, which could prove impossible otherwise.
The trend of the local art collective is growing throughout Colorado. Any aspiring artist can find hope for a future in a world that is often empty of prospects.
Behind its small size, the Boulder based company embodies a strong concept. With not only its label, but with training and encouragement, Elm & Oak will make big names out of aspiring artists.
Representing the little guy, it is the beginning of local artists making a mark on a market that is too often for the famous and wealthy.