‘RAW’ talent showcased in awards ceremony

The RAW Awards will showcase design talent in Philadelphia, with winners advancing to compete on a national level.

Philadelphia artists will get the chance to represent the city in the semifinals of the fourth annual RAW Awards on Nov. 15.

RAW: natural born artists, an independent arts organization in 54 cities across the U.S., helps foster and connect up-and-coming artists with people who can help them succeed.

The organization brings together artists of different trades including visual arts, fashion design, accessory design, filmmaking, hair styling, makeup artistry, music, performing arts and photography.

“[RAW] is an indie artist program and it is a great way for all creative individuals to get involved,” Samantha Klein, semifinalist in the RAW awards in Philadelphia for makeup artistry, said. “It’s a great place to market yourself and network with people within the industry and just to break out there and get people to see your work.”

Although the organization represents independent design talent across the country, as well as a branch of RAW in Australia, the talent featured online and in the RAW awards is hand-selected by the directors of RAW. However, the public’s voice is still heard within the process.

The selection process to narrow down who the top three to five contestants will be in each category considers both the public vote and that of the RAW directors and city representatives equally.

Seeing that only three to five artists are selected to compete as semi-finalists in each category, the opportunity to qualify is seen as being very meaningful to the artists.

“It feels amazing to be in the semi-finals,” Leah Delfiner, designer of the clothing line Pretty Pretty Rebel and semi-finalist for fashion design in the RAW awards, said. “Even if I don’t win, it’s going to be fun. I am just happy to be a part and to be recognized and for the city to see me and my collection.”

Now that RAW has chosen semi-finalists, the organization will host events in cities across the country on Nov. 15 to then decide who will be a finalist in the competition.

The RAW semi-finalist event in Philadelphia is taking place at the G Lounge on South 17th Street and will incorporate a similar process to the qualifying to be a RAW semi-finalist; it will consider both the popular vote of the public and the vote of three judges to decide who will be afforded the opportunity to potentially win in their category of artistry.

“Sometimes you wonder…you like your own work and want people to see it, but sometimes you want to know how the rest of the world [views] it,” Gregory DeLucia, semi-finalist in the RAW awards for photography, said. “I don’t want to say that it validates your work, but it makes you feel that what I’m doing is good — people see what I see. Win or lose, it’s a great experience.”

Although the competition and RAW awards create opportunities for artists, the organization itself allows them to make connections in their industry year-round.

Through the events and community that RAW has created, many artists have found themselves collaborating with those involved in other mediums of art and making connections that benefit their careers.

“[RAW] gives you the opportunity to meet so many different creative minds,” DeLucia said.  “[Klein] and I have worked on projects together…that is living proof of the benefits of RAW.”

Only one artist will be chosen as the winner for each category of design.

The prizes for winning the RAW awards include meetings with industry experts, which would help to solidify their careers in the arts. But even without winning the prize packages offered, the artists involved with RAW have plenty of opportunities to network with others in the industry and have their work seen.

“With my experience with RAW and the RAW awards, I really pushed to get my name out there, to market myself and to be nominated and now able to compete in the RAW semi-finalist awards,” Klein said. “I wanted to turn heads in Philly and show that Philly has a fashion department that we can bring to the table and not be overlooked and taken professionally.”

Taylor Farnsworth can be reached at taylor.farnsworth@temple.edu.

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