Over twenty years ago, Sherry Berger founded the (no name) Art Group (NNAG) with one goal in mind: to break away from the corporate art world and “make art simply for art’s sake”. Now, the NNAG holds exhibitions and fundraisers that showcase the work of international artists with the aim of supporting various charities. Speaking to Sip of Culture, NNAG’s founder discussed the organisation and how it has grown since 1999.
As the founder of the (no name) Art Group, can you share a little bit about your organisation and its mission?
The (no name) Art Group (NNAG) supports nonprofit organisations through creative art exhibitions and fundraisers. Our collaborative art projects are designed to make the world a better place! NNAG projects are held once a year based on a theme related to the charity we are supporting. Anyone is welcome to participate – all ages and skill levels from anywhere around the world.
Our aim is to have a positive impact with the artists themselves. Artists are often an introverted bunch, so we like to encourage their potential and motivate them to share their creativity with others. We really love connecting artists from around the world from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. We celebrate these differences, but more importantly our projects bring us together. We commit to a common goal to make art, raise awareness and funds for a good cause.
What inspired you to form this group over 20 years ago?
My first “real” job out of university was as a designer for a prominent television station in Philadelphia. I worked with a small creative team who were all extremely talented but suffering from burn-out. It was an aggressive corporate world of deadlines and overtime. I often spoke of recent school projects that fuelled so much creativity among students. I realized my drained colleagues had forgotten what it was like to make art simply for art’s sake. So, the thought occurred – what if we started our own “project”? Something with no rules and deadlines, and we could just HAVE FUN. We gathered 12 artists, and illustrated the 12 signs of the Zodiac. This was our first project and we exhibited the work at a local lounge in the city.
It wasn’t long before the group gained momentum. More artists were interested, more projects initiated and more exhibitions held. Guests often wanted to support us with financial contributions. But we were not looking for donations. Therefore, we decided that any proceeds would be donated to a local charity. We raised additional funds by selling our art printed on notecards, magnets, wine bottles, candles, thermoses and more. We became known as “artists making a difference”. We couldn’t decide on a name for our group, and so called ourselves “no name” for many years. But the brand caught on and now I think the “no name” has made a name for itself!
The (no name) Art Group has grown tremendously since 1999, with people from all over the globe taking part in its projects and raising awareness about world issues. What projects are you most proud of?
Oh, I think this is difficult to say. It is like asking a parent who is their favourite child! Each project has been really special in its own way. They all felt relevant at the time and served their purpose. So perhaps the answer would be the current project is always the one I am most proud of. This looks like it will lead me into your next question!
Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share with us, and how can people follow your work or take part in it?
Yes! Our latest project “A Call for Peace” addresses the current war in Ukraine. The project is another one of our “collaborative grids”. The way it works is there is one main image, divided into a grid. Each participant gets a square of the grid to design/illustrate how they choose (with a few rules). The image is then put back together to make the “whole”. In the current project, the final image forms a peace dove.
Collaborative grids are a perfect project for the group. The separate “squares” of the grid celebrate each artist as an individual. Once together, the grid is celebrated as a whole. A rich tapestry of diversity to remind us that we are stronger together. You can check out the project at nonameartgroup.org.
Lastly, what advice would you give to young artists who want to use their art to make a difference in the world?
The options are endless! First, consider helping charities whose missions are aligned with yours and the nature of your work. Places that could use an artist’s touch are hospitals, libraries, museums, animal protection groups, political and cultural groups, and neighbourhood improvement projects to name a few.
Ways to help can include:
- Offer a percentage of the proceeds. Collaborate with charities by offering a percentage of proceeds from your art sales. When promoting your fundraising efforts, you could state: “All proceeds from the sale of my artwork from this exhibition will be donated to the XYZ organisation.”
- Suggest an art auction or raffle to help raise funds. This could be a fun project to do with other artist friends.
- Publicise nonprofit efforts. There is a great advantage to artists today and social media. Social media is an incredible tool to not only connect with other artists and groups but to promote charities. Nonprofit organisations always need publicity and praise. Write about the charities in your blog posts, tweets, and on Facebook/Instagram.
- Offer your design talent or reproductions of your art work. Grant charities permission to use your images for reproduction on their promotional items such as stickers, magnets, signs and other products to help get their messages out and raise money.
- Go online for leads. Do a Google search. Type in the key words for your region and the word ‘nonprofit’ or ‘charity’ and ‘art’. Use Twitter by searching #charities and join Facebook groups that have similar interests.
Lastly, we warmly welcome anyone interested in joining our group – artists and non-artists alike! You can connect with us via social media on Facebook and Instagram @nonameartgroup. Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest updates and projects through our website at nonameartgroup.org.
Sip of Culture interviewed Sherry Berger as part of Multi Kulti Collective’s media campaign, Migrants Got Talent. Read more about this campaign here.