Juliet’s platform for young BIPOC artists

All this month, the homepage of creative agency Juliet has been a little less about Juliet and a little more about young Toronto artist Hau Pham.

The first thing visitors see when they arrive at WeAreJuliet.com is Pham’s painting “After Prom,” (above) which dominates the homepage.

The work is there as part of a new initiative called Home Page for Change, which sees art from young BIPOC creatives not only given top spot on its website for one month, but the artists also receive a $2,000 grant to keep working on their creative pursuit. Juliet plans to recognize four more artists, one per month between August and November.

“It’s all about the goal of increasing BIPOC representation in the arts and our industry,” explained Denise Cole, the agency’s co-founder and creative director. “That was our thinking: Getting people published, getting people paid.”

Home Page for Change is open to young aspiring BIPOC artists in the Greater Toronto Area, with submissions judged by a panel of Juliet staff. The entry site clearly spells out the motivation for the program: “The advertising industry needs a dramatic increase in BIPOC representation. It’s been embarrassingly imbalanced for far too long.”

The money is obviously important, but simply providing a platform for young BIPOC talent can also have far-ranging benefits, said Cole. “As an artist, just being able to say ‘My work was published here,’ or ‘It appears here,’ can go a long way.”

Pham, a recent OCADU graduate, says that her art depicts “the Asian feminine experience,” and she’s interested in how people use objects as “indicators for both self-understanding and perception of others.”

“After Prom” depicts a single pair of worn and crumpled fake eyelashes. “What do these tell us about the person who wore them?” she asks. “The still life asks the viewer to reconsider their perception of an object for which they have assumed understanding.”

Home Page for Change started out as Juliet project, but Cole said it doesn’t have to stay that way. “We’ve got great visions for where this can go,” she said. “It’s something we really want to put a lot of support behind moving forward. And hopefully, it has an opportunity to grow beyond just Juliet and become a larger program that more people can take part in.”

The next artist for Home Page for Change will be revealed next week, and artists hoping to be featured in September have until Aug. 23 to submit their work.

David Brown