Hygienic program adds business savvy to the palette

OCTOBER 26, 2013 | The Day

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Hygienic program adds business savvy to the palette
By Kristina Dorsey

It’s called “art,” but being a financially successful painter or sculptor also requires something beyond artistic talent: business savvy. Local artists searching for entrepreneurial information and direction have a fresh place to find it: Hygienic Art’s newly created Artist Academy @ Hygienic. The academy is a series of two-hour workshops covering everything from branding to marketing to grant writing to financial management. Leading the sessions will be artists who have flourished by using business skills and entrepreneurial habits, according to academy project coordinator Jess Brey. Jane Pollak, who is leading Tuesday’s session on “Business Development: 10 Essential Skills to Thrive,” was an egg artist who ended up selling pieces to the likes of Steve Jobs. Rich Hollant, who heads up the Nov. 19 “Marketing 101 for Artist” session, developed brand and new project launches for corporations from Motorola to Travelers before founding co:lab, which deals with brand strategy and design. Hygienic Director of Development Joseph Celli says that the most successful artists have traditionally been those who create great work and have a handle on the business end of things. “One of the things that’s kind of unique about artists as professionals is that 98 percent of the artists in America do not have a manager or gallery representation. So, in a sense, they’re doing it all,” he says. “What I mean by that is, not only are they conceptualizing the work and creating the work, but then they have to go out and sell the work, market the work, promote the work, negotiate a contract once they have a buyer, or a performer is meeting with a venue. Then they’ve got special kinds of tax reporting artists do. So, in many ways, they’re small businesses. They’re entrepreneurs.”

And they are business people, even if they don’t want to be. Brey says that, in a February focus group that Celli headed up, one artist spoke about not wanting to become an entrepreneur but preferring to focus on the art and hiring someone to handle the business side. But that, of course, requires money. Celli noted, too, that, when an artist hires someone, they still need to manage that person. Things have been known to go awry when, for instance, rock musicians turn over all their finances to someone else and don’t pay attention – only to learn five years down the road that they’ve been fleeced. In any case, Brey says that bringing in artists to talk to these local folks — in relatable, interactive sessions — should help them see they can handle the business side. Artists Academy @ Hygienic is funded by the Citizens Bank Champion in Action Grant. The award is from Citizens Bank and WTNH News 8, and the Hygienic grant was the second they gave this year in the category of arts and culture. Citizens Band President Ned Handy said in a statement, “This award will help the Hygienic to grow its after-school programs and stimulate small businesses in the region by educating artists in core aspects of small arts enterprises.” The third session in the opening trio of Artist Academy @ Hygienic workshops is “Web Design, an Internet Presence” on Dec. 17. It will be led by designers kHyal and Karl Heine. 


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