When DocuSign moved into its Warrenville office, we had the opportunity to transform our workspace and support a local nonprofit at the same time by leasing art from IPaintMyMind. As part of our DocuSign IMPACT blog series, we sat down with Evan La Ruffa, Founder & Executive Director of IPaintMyMind to hear about the mission behind his nonprofit organization.
Started as a blog in 2009, IPaintMyMind was a space that offered content about emerging artists from all over the world. Founder and Executive Director of IPaintMyMind, Evan La Ruffa, used to write for different art outlets before focusing on building IPaintMyMind. He worked as a writer, curator, poet, and artist, but also had a background in nonprofits and community organizing. This work was what led him to create a new model for nonprofit development and art that had never been designed before — and would go on to make a significant impact in the community.
In 2012 IPaintMyMind transformed from a blog into a nonprofit. Their mission is to make art accessible to all communities. In 2013 they established “Shared Walls” — a hallmark arts program in which the nonprofit would transform spaces both for businesses and the public through temporary art exhibitions that focus on emerging and affordable artwork.
First we connect with artists, then reach out to potential business clients, and finally, loan art exhibitions to them. With the revenue they earn from the private exhibitions, such as with DocuSign, IPaintMyMind is able to offer free art exhibitions and programs to local schools, parks, libraries, and community centers; spaces that have the need for art but don’t have the budget.
“We take pride in supporting artists, communities, and businesses in their efforts to make art a viable avenue for engagement & collaboration,” said La Ruffa. “While we know there are many establishments to rent art from, or buy affordable art, we are the only nonprofit art organization who loans out art to the community for free. For every paid exhibition we put up, we’re able to create 2-3 free exhibitions.”
Shared Walls and DocuSign
At DocuSign, we look for partners that share our values. We initially set the goal of supporting our community and enhancing our workspace at the same time. By working with Shared Walls — we were able to accomplish both. Currently, the Warrenville office features entirely digital collages. “They are somewhat quirky and juxtapose elements you might not normally see together,” says La Ruffa.
“We also like to incorporate work from local photographers that focus on the city of Chicago. Design prints and screen prints are a big part of what we do And again, that has to do with those things being reasonably priced and the content being a lot more accessible. We consider our art a little more pop — a little more youthful.”
Being a nonprofit allows IPaintMyMind to place the focus squarely on their mission through programs like Shared Walls. Their plans for the future also include breaking into some new markets outside the Chicago area. “It’s quite exciting for us, as our ultimate goal is to expand the program nationwide,” says La Ruffa.
IPaintMyMind is a Gold Rated Guidestar nonprofit arts organization, qualifying them as a one of the top rated NFP’s in the country. As a 501c3, Guidestar serves as the gold standard for evaluating exceptional charitable organizations. As an advocate for visual art, emerging artists, and public art in Chicago and elsewhere, IPaintMyMind takes pride in being one of the valuable cultural organizations that make the world a more vibrant place.