By: Hope Chookazian
One year ago, the Discord server The Artique Shoppe, no, that’s not a typo, and yes, you read that right, was created by Andrew Alford, a Purchase College junior studying studio composition. The original intent of his server was to connect artists of any medium and inspire collaborations worldwide. Now, it has shifted into a platform for art contests, evolving in a way comparable to the origins of Discord.
With 19 million active servers per week, Discord is no small fish. Rather, it is a big fish in a big pond. Created by Jason Citron and Stan Vishnevskiy in 2015, the objective was to be a way for video game users to connect via chat, voice text, and video from all over the world. Now it has an array of servers with topics from hiking to study groups. It's a place for people to find communities and a sense of belonging.
While The Artique Shoppe is still a place for artists to promote their work and discuss collaborations, Alford came up with the idea to start having competitions on the server to boost activity.
“We’ll do a contest however often,” he said, “Like $30 from my bank, and then people will submit.”
His grand plan worked, and contests have become the main attraction on his server. “People are like, ‘well, I want a shot at the money,’” he joked.
While Alford funds the contests himself, he isn’t alone in leading the server. He has three other admins to assist him in enforcing rules and voting in the contests.
Ryan Miklautsch, a dance major at Dean College in Massachusetts and one of Alford’s best friends since kindergarten, has been an admin on The Artique Shoppe since its inception.
“I’ve handled a lot of setup and back-end work of Andrew's [past] servers,” Miklautsch said. “I love seeing others’ art, and Discord/the internet is a great way to do that.”
Usually, the contests have themes. A popular theme among the admins was “Major Nature” where artists would submit any of their art that connects to nature.
“We thought of it in spring,” said Nikola Giovanni Husu, another admin and friend Alford met through a Minecraft server called “PCB.” “I proposed it as I was walking in the woods near my city because the colors of the seasons looked so pretty.”
Nikola, who lives in Trieste, a northeastern part of Italy near Slovenia, enjoyed the variety of art forms submitted during that contest.
“Some people submitted arts and crafts, some others sent in poetry,” they said. “A person even sent in a score of music. Overall it was a very nice contest with a lot of talented people involved.”
Sonja Boyko, a senior visual arts major at Purchase College and another admin on the server, also named "Major Nature" as her favorite contest so far.
“It was basically people just taking their own interpretation of what nature is,” she said. “A lot of people took beautiful photographs to post on there. It was very nice.”
As the one-year anniversary contest approaches, Alford exuded excitement. There will be no theme for this contest. All art is welcome.
“I can’t wait until September 20th,” Alford said with a chuckle. “I hope to have a bunch of people join the competition, the more the merrier!”
As far as the prize? There are no spoilers here. Alford expressed it would be bumped up, though he wanted to keep it under wraps.
Be sure to check out The Artique Shoppe on Instagram @Artique_shoppe, where you can find a link to the Discord. You can also find them on the Purchase College Discord server in the misc tab.