Jamila Amarah was known around the city for producing art shows and galleries through her initiative Art+Tax. Now, she’s re-introducing Art+Tax as a community print shop in the making. CJRU spoke with Amarah about where she’s going and what it means for artists and art lovers.
Amarah isn’t an artist herself, but she’s passionate about making space for art. With the latest iteration of Art+Tax, she hopes to relieve artists of business-related tasks. That way, they can focus their energy on the creative process. Amarah collects art and says she loves to cover her walls with work by Toronto artists. These experiences have given her insight into what Toronto art lovers are missing, a community print shop.
“In being a collector, I learned what people were looking for. In having artist friends, I knew a little bit of the obstacles they were running into trying to sell their work. Trying to produce and manufacture their stuff. Even simple stuff like being able to ship it out,” Amarah says. “What I’m trying to do now is facilitate everything and finding a lot of different ways to do that.”
Art+Tax is currently crowdfunding with a goal of $15,000 allocated for purchasing printing equipment. Her hope is that the shop becomes a hub for the creative community.
“I want this to feel like less of a task and a job. A thing you have to cross off your to-do list. Printing is still part of the creative process, as far as [art] actually coming to life. And I think the other part is being able to bring art home. Especially at a time when we can’t go to it, to interact with it,” Amarah reflects.
After a year of staying home, she says she’s not surprised to see Torontonians so eager to revamp their living spaces. She wonders how powerful this moment would be to the creative economy if residents had a hub to discover and buy work from local artists. She also envisions home decor youtubers and interior designers benefitting from a print shop like the one Art+Tax is building.
“How much better would it be if these people, when they’re going in and doing a space for someone, could source art from local artists. If they could source art that isn’t just something you bought at HomeSense, but something that maybe speaks to you,” she explains.
Introducing Toronto audiences to international artists is another part of Amarah’s plan. She notes that shipping artwork across borders can get pricey. She hopes Art+Tax can be an alternative, where those artists can send digital files for print and feel confident that their file won’t get replicated without their consent.
To hear more about Art+Tax, listen to the interview below.