The advertising industry can be a rough place, full of highly competitive people, strong rivalries and big egos. But it’s also an industry that knows how to help others, and the industry in Los Angeles got together recently for an event that brings people together for a common good – to raise money for homeless youth in LA.
100 Pieces was not just a chance for ad, production and art folks to come together at Buzzell Studios in Santa Monica, have drinks and share their creativity. It was an opportunity for people to view and bid on pieces of art while helping out those less fortunate. 100 Pieces is a celebration of talent and heart, and the fact that this talent can change the world.
100 Pieces is in its second year, and hosts Pete & Amy Favat and Melissa Ross topped the inaugural year with an incredible event. The silent auction featured 170 pieces of art from creatives and several renowned artists, bid on by people from top agencies and production companies like Deutsch, Droga5, Omelet, The Mill, 72andSunny and many others. The number of pieces of art donated was up by more than 40 from last year, and while the numbers are still being tallied, money raised for Venice non-profit Safe Place for Youth (S.P.Y.) is sure to be above the $50,000 from 2015.
Attendance for the event was off the charts as well. The space holds roughly 400 people and the organizers actually had to shut down the website because 750 people had RSVPed.
“From an attendance standpoint, we got an A. We did good. I think everyone had a good time,” said Pete Favat, organizer and North American chief creative officer at Deutsch.
Aside from raising money for S.P.Y., the focus of the evening was on the art, and the donated pieces came from all over the country and the globe.
“We ended up getting art sent in from far-reaching places like Tel Aviv, Brazil, San Francisco, and Seattle,” added Favat.
Artists represented included some heavy-hitting names, too, along with creatives from the agency world, and even one piece of art from one of the kids helped by S.P.Y.
“His name’s Yung Lenox…and it's a portrait of Morrissey. There's a little story behind this kid. His dad was really into music, and when he was eight, he started drawing all of these rappers that were on all these albums that his father had. Some way or another, through the internet, these rappers started finding out about these portraits, and they started inviting him over to their house to do their portrait, and he's become a celebrity amongst the rap community, and he's so not a rap guy, because you look him up on Instagram, he's this cute little kid, and his handle says, ‘I'm a portraitist, and a Lego enthusiast.’ We got his dad to have him submit that portrait of Morrissey, and I think it went for a lot of money. The kid just got back from Tokyo, where he had a huge showing, which is pretty incredible. It's so eclectic,” said Favat.
Yung Lenox’s work was one of those garnering big bids, but there were even bigger names on the auction block.
“We got work from renowned street artist Shepard Fairey, French director Michel Gondry, Frank Ockenfels III and others,” he said, but was quick to tout the talent of artists that donated from agencies.
“I had so many conversations with people at the event that went to art school to become painters. They went into advertising, and put painting aside — or making sculptures, illustration and photography.” said Favat.
The growth of 100 Pieces over the last year was due much in part to great word of mouth, which spidered outside the LA area.
“We also started testing the idea of people bidding on pieces from out of state. I know that there was one or two pieces sold in Florida, which is good. Last year, we absolutely had no idea what we were doing. This year, we are starting to get an idea of what we're doing, but we still have a long way to go to perfect this, which is the fun of it. It's a little bit of an experiment. It takes a lot of work, but it's a little bit of trial and error,” noted Favat.
For a good cause
Most people don’t start a charity event because it’s easy. They have a conviction to do what’s right to raise money for causes they believe in and are close to. The Favats started 100 Pieces to help raise awareness of the homeless youth problem in the LA area, something Amy Favat knows well since she works with S.P.Y.
“It's a big problem. There's 10,000 homeless teens in LA. When I was young, I grew up in New York City and Boston, and when the wintertime came, I used to walk around thinking, ‘What are these people doing here, homeless? Why the hell don't they go to Venice where it's always nice, or Santa Monica?’ That's exactly what happens. What so many young people do is come across the country and they settle out here, because California's a real liberal state and wants to help people, and the weather is way better than freezing your ass off in the middle of February back east,” said Pete Favat.
Favat wanted to raise money for S.P.Y. because they receive huge amounts of money and are constantly looking for sponsors. This was one way to help plump up the funding. Secondarily, Favat and S.P.Y. wanted to bring the creative community together. Most of the time the industry is in competition — and putting the boxing gloves away and rallying together for a great cause brings the community closer together.
While this year’s 100 Pieces went gangbusters, the Favats are trying to keep the growth of the event in check. They had plans to expand into New York, but they wanted to experiment and find what worked before taking it on the road.
“Before we get bigger, how do we iterate on it and get the right balance of what we need to do first? This year, we got requests; ‘Hey, come over to Berlin and do this, and down in Brazil in Sao Paolo.’ We're definitely thinking of it. It's not the goal to make it huge. It's not even in the back of our minds. It's in the middle of our brain. This thing has potential, because you could go to any market, say Berlin, and find a common cause that people want to band together, and bring the creative community together. It can happen in Sao Paolo, Milan, or anywhere for that matter. It would be a blast, because it's a simple idea. I think that we could probably expand easily, but we don't want to rush into that too much,” he added.
Favat sees the potential for their simple idea to go global, because there’s homelessness in every large city, but they’re still in the experimental phase.
The other side of the reward is seeing those creatives who usually only speak creatively through their work be able to show art that is wholly their own.
“I think for me, it was actually seeing some of the faces of the people, and the pride in the creative people — that they got this sense of this thing they do on the side is actually valued. They get to expose other people to something that they pretty much keep quiet, and they get to do something good for the world. It’s like a win-win-win-win all around. Then, there was a couple kids from SPY there last night, and you could see the services that they get provided, and they got up to speak. It was very raw, but you see the work that these people do for these kids, and it's pretty incredible. That part makes me the happiest,” beamed Favat.
2016's 100 Pieces participants
Y&R Tel Aviv
The Selby (Todd Selby)
Frank Ockenfels III
Will Gay (Disney)
Brickyard VFX Boston
Working Not Working
Wolf at the Door