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Eddie Carroll of Madison was inspired by his fellow student artists to establish College Collections, a digital gallery connecting emerging artists with an appreciative audience. (Photo by Susan Talpey/The Source | Buy This Photo)
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Most successful businesses start with a great idea and a good story. While taking studio art classes at Gettysburg College, Eddie Carroll of Madison was so impressed by the work of his peers, he founded College Collections, a digital gallery and event series featuring emerging artists.
“I loved to make art and I wanted to help give more exposure to artwork created by some very, very talented young artists on college campuses,” he says. “This art has more value than just a grade—a lot of time and effort and emotion goes into it and the public doesn’t get to appreciate it.”
Sharing inspiring art and giving valuable exposure to student artists were the driving forces behind College Collections, with Eddie putting his organizational business degree into practice. His support team of volunteers includes three college friends, his brother Connor, and school friend Sean Mahoney.
“The idea was to create a platform for students to share and sell their art, connecting them with people who value their work outside the classroom. I talked to students and my professors who thought it was a great idea and I wrote the business plan,” he says. “We sold T-shirts to fundraise the money to become an LLC. Everything we’ve accomplished was thanks to the positive support at the start.”
While College Collections started with students, artists of all ages are welcome to create a free digital portfolio and post images of their works for viewing and for sale.
“It helps alleviate the pressure of having to market your artwork, which is challenging for artists starting out. It means that artists can generate funds to keep creating,” Eddie says.
In addition to the website, last summer Eddie manned the College Collections stall featuring works by 10 to 15 local artists at more than 30 different craft fairs in New England, including Cape Cod, Rhode Island, and New York. Locals may have seen the colorful stall at various locations in Branford, Essex, and Madison.
College Collections recently moved into managing its own events hosted at local venues. Eddie says there’s been a very positive response from shoreline businesses that have donated goods including gift cards and beauty services to a raffle at each event, with all proceeds benefiting nonprofit groups including The M.J. Petretto Foundation in Guilford and the Shoreline Arts Alliance.
“We want to build a full creative community. Many young artists don’t consider themselves artists, so we want to encourage them to take that step outside the classroom and share their work with a greater audience. The response from our artists has been great—they are very excited and really love what we’re doing,” Eddie says.
With 200 artist profiles on its website, half of whom have listed works for sale, Eddie says the future of College Collections looks bright with plans underway to launch a more interactive website.
“The art on our site is unique and accessible. This art is way more reasonably priced than you’d find elsewhere and for many of the artists it’s the first time they’d sold their work,” he says. “Many people, including young people, value unique, hand-crafted goods and like to buy from the artist. It’s so cool to help these artists get exposure and get their works out from the dorm room and into local homes.”
Popular items on the College Collections website include items of clothing and apparel featuring digital images of featured artwork, which Eddie says provides “another way to show the artwork to the world and to support our artists.”
In November 2017, Eddie took College Collections global, making his first trip to Europe to attend a web summit in Portugal.
“There were major names including Uber and Instagram, and there were 60,000 people—it was huge. It was cool to meet so many like-minded tech people and share ideas. We were in the alpha section of very new businesses and it was good to see how far along we were. The feedback was that we were doing really well,” Eddie says.
“In February, we are taking College Collections to Startup Grind Silicon Valley. We are one of 200 startups to have a booth there and we’ll meet with investors and venture capitalists, and lots of tech people.”
Born and raised in Madison, Eddie attended local schools and graduated from Daniel Hand High School in 2011. After completing a post-graduate year at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Eddie made the move to Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania.
After studying video production in high school, Eddie stretched his artistic wings in college, studying drawing, photography, and ceramics, before finding his passion: welding metal sculptures.
“At the Branford Festival, I sold a big 40-pound metal fish and at our last event, I raffled off my metal dog. The great thing about studying art in college is having all the resources there and professors to encourage you, so I haven’t welded since college, but I’d love to have my own welder and also get back into painting.”
In August 2017, Eddie joined the Young Leaders program with Middlesex United Way, supporting community initiatives including its Stuff a Cruiser holiday food drive. Based in Middletown, the nonprofit organization is dedicated to strengthening the lives of people in the 15 towns of Middlesex County including Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Killingworth, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook. This month, Eddie started a full-time job as the director of new business with the organization.
“Young Leaders is a group of about 10 volunteers who meet every week to come up with strategies to raise money. One area the group has had a great impact is reducing homelessness in the towns. It’s a really good community thing to be a part of and I really enjoy it,” he says.
Eddie is also an assistant wrestling coach at The Morgan School in Clinton, continuing his involvement with the sport he discovered in 3rd grade and played through high school and college.
“Wrestling is all about setting goals and pushing yourself to achieve them. It’s up to you to put in the work and make it happen,” he says. “I like coaching and watching the kids get better and work toward their goals. I’m still young, so I can relate well to them and be a positive support to the team.”
It’s a busy year ahead for Eddie and he’s excited to introduce more people to College Collections.
“I’ve learned that everything takes longer in the real world but we are growing and improving as a company. We are seeking investment and resources to take our company to the next stage. We’ve made a big impact with what we have and now we want to take what we’ve achieved and do a lot more good.”
College Collections presents Creations and Libations at Chow Food & Beverage, 36 Killingworth Turnpike, Clinton on Wednesday, Feb. 21 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Local artists will display and sell works, with live music, discounted food and cocktails, and a charity raffle. Admission is the purchase of a $1 raffle ticket. For more information, visit collegecollections.co.
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