Mirrors and Mentors


I’ve interviewed a lot of artists and makers for one of my final courses in this master of entrepreneurship program. There are a few things that really touch my heart as I speak with these vibrant and creative individuals. They each have an inspiring passion for creating something. Painters, fiber artists, jewelers, every artist I’ve spoken with talked at length about their ideas for new creations, their collection of art materials, and the exciting journey of innovation they’ve taken as artists and entrepreneurs. When I inquired about who they ask for help in their creative endeavors, most artists told me they look to other creatives for support. One artist told me that although there is business help available to her, most of the time she has to translate traditional business advice to the specialized needs of a creative business. All of the artists I spoke with are interested in some form of arts business mentoring. The overwhelming answer to my question about their creative business strengths and weaknesses was they felt most confident in creating their products and least confident managing their business in the fast-paced world of internet search engines and social media presence. A lot has changed (and very quickly) for artists since the internet became a more accessible and acceptable place to sell and purchase art. Art schools have not adequately addressed the entrpreneurial needs of artists during this technological disruption of the art world.

What I have enjoyed so much about interviewing such a range of artists, is that I see myself and my artistic journey reflected in their stories. This mirror lets me see that the struggles I faced just out of art school, the disorientation I felt having to navigate the technology that changed as quickly as I learned it, they were not signs of my failure as an artist, but more a lack of understanding the process of building a business around my talents. I went back to school thinking I wanted to understand the business side of selling my work, and have come out the other side hoping to mentor other creatives based on what I’ve learned in this program. Creating art will always be my first passion, but seeing other artists succeed by doing what they love has taken a close second.