Samara Weaver and Rich Lopez live in the Wilmington area, so they were both excited to see the Riverfront development plans for the east side of the Christina River, revealed last spring.
The proposal included 1.9 million square feet of office space, 357,000 square feet of retail, 4,291 residential units and thousands of parking spaces. The drawings and designs made the project appear capable of making the same impact as what had been done on the west side. But one thing was missing.
As Weaver and Lopez—artists who have studios at the Delaware Contemporary in Wilmington— looked at the plans, they noticed that the renderings included no art; they immediately sensed an opportunity to help local creatives.
“When there is an architectural or engineering project, you generally have specifications of things designers say should be used in the project,” says Weaver, who has been in Delaware since 2015 and works in a variety of media. “For instance, they might specify a certain flooring type or light fixture.”
Lopez and Weaver reasoned that if designers included work by local artists, those completing the project would be compelled to include it. To do that, they have created a clearinghouse of sorts for those interested in having developers, designers and engineers view their work and include it in their plans— which would perhaps lead to sales.
The pair have applied for the trademark “SpecLocal” and plan to assemble a database of artists throughout the state who can upload examples of their work for consideration in plans.
“One goal is being able to have those design professionals find local artists easily and have access to high-quality images to be included in renderings,” Weaver explains.
Weaver grew up in Philadelphia and graduated from Temple’s Tyler School of Art with a master’s in architecture. Her father is an artist, and she has been working in the field her whole life. In high school, she focused on ceramics but has since diversified her portfolio.
“The goal is being able to have those design professionals find local artists easily and have access to high-quality images to be included in renderings.”
Lopez calls himself a “serial entrepreneur” whose portfolio now includes fine ceramic art. He is a mechanical engineer by trade but has always been interested in creativity and the creative process.
Now, they are helping their fellow artists be seen. There will be a website and a smart device app to allow artists and other professionals to network. Creating the site and storing the images will be relatively inexpensive, but the benefits could be huge.
“The biggest reason we want SpecLocal to be successful is to create a platform that creates visibility for artists,” Weaver says.