2022 marked a major year for The Create Fund, Shutterstock’s Artist Investment Initiative. Originally created in 2020 with the mission of increasing inclusivity and representation within Shutterstock’s content library, the The Create Fund is now a multi-pronged project that supports emerging artists from diverse backgrounds, as well as diversity initiatives with like-minded partners.
The 20 grant-winning artists of 2022 come from all over the world and they work in a wide variety of mediums, such as photography, video, illustration, 3D design, and music.
Along with these distinctions, they each have their own unique identities and perspectives. The common thread that ties these artists together is their undeniable talent and a shared desire to bridge gaps between cultures. They all make art that authentically reflects their identity to a larger audience.
Expect to see their content in 2023!
As part of our ongoing commitment to the talented Create Fund artists, we profiled the 2021 grant recipients on the Shutterstock blog. Their words speak to the larger mission of the program, and why it’s so necessary.
“I try to tell my own story through my art, or at least put part of myself in it. . . .”
Ranti Amelia, a Jakarta-based illustrator and 2021 grant recipient told Shutterstock. Amelia’s illustrations are a mix of magic and reality, and often feature groups of people from a wide range of ethnicities and experiences.
“I want to show a diverse set of characters, so when people see my art, they feel represented.”
Kevin Truong, a portrait photographer who identifies as queer and Asian, echoed a similar sentiment.
“I’m thankful that [The Create Fund] has allowed me to focus specifically on queer representation. I’m hoping to create the type of imagery that I would have benefited from seeing when I was a young queer person and still struggling with my identity.”
Anyone can apply to be considered for The Create Fund. (Interested? You’re in luck! The 2023 application is open.) Each recipient receives a grant for up to $10K to create exclusive content that offers an authentic perspective, unique to each artist’s location and identity.
Their artwork supports Shutterstock’s mission to build a beautiful, deeply creative collection of art and sound.
“I was really excited for this opportunity to try and redefine a lot of gender stereotypes and roles [in India],” said Alisha Vasudev, a photographer from Mumbai and 2021 grant recipient.
“I really wanted to go about portraying strong women and women in leadership roles throughout my collection.”
As Mbuso Sydwell Nkosi, a South African photographer and 2021 grant recipient, told Shutterstock, the goal of The Create Fund aligns perfectly with his own mission as an artist.
“As a Black artist, I feel like it’s my responsibility to contribute more photos of Black subjects to Shutterstock. I’m trying to create as much content as possible that represents not only Black people, but African cultures. This also includes clothes, lifestyles, and different perspectives.”
Beyond championing individual artists in 2022, Shutterstock branched out into partnerships with a series of like-minded organizations. In honor of Black History Month and the Lunar New Year, The Create Fund partnered with POCC (People of Color Collective), a U.K.-based collective of over 850 creative professionals of color in the advertising, music, film, photography, and publishing industries.
With this partnership, The Create Fund offered six grants totaling $6,000 to artists from Black and East and South-East Asian backgrounds. Three additional $1,000 grants were awarded to Black visual and music artists living in the United States, while the remaining three $1,000 grants went to Asian artists from anywhere on the globe.
Noting that more than half (52%) of global marketers say it’s “difficult to visually reflect their brand with an accurate representation of the older generation,” and recognizing the need for representation across all identities and abilities, The Create Fund also explored how aging is portrayed in stock photography through a partnership with The American Society on Aging.
The outcome is a $10K Keep Age in Focus grant, which is aimed at increasing age representation in Shutterstock’s content library. As Meeckel Beecher, Shutterstock Global Head of DEI, said,
“We are calling upon the creative industry to support us in ensuring visual storytelling shows the diversity of the aging process through genuine representation.”
Shutterstock’s additional DEI-focused partnerships include $2,500 to support the Audience Choice Feature Film Award at imagineNATIVE annual film festival, and a collaboration with the Global Alliance for Disability in Media and Entertainment (GADIM) and the World Institute on Disability (WID) to create a disability content ebook, as well as offering grants to six artists whose work is fully representative of people with disabilities.
“Winning this grant makes me feel so optimistic about the future of disability representation. . . .”
Elizabeth Rajchart, a portrait photographer and 2022 grant recipient, told Shutterstock. “So many times, my community is photographed, written about, or filmed by a person without disabilities. To know Shutterstock is committed to diversity on both sides of the lens is incredibly encouraging.”
This is just the beginning of Shutterstock’s continued efforts. The 2023 Create Fund grant application is now open and new partnerships with mission-driven organizations are in the works. Shutterstock is both honored and excited to continue on this mission of supporting emerging artists throughout the world to ensure all people and perspectives are accurately represented in their stock content libraries.