Hannah Cole featured in exhibit at Ringling College of Art and Design

Creating art is one thing. Making a living with the art you have created is quite another. “Artists Minding Their Business” is an exhibition and series of special events that will be held at the Willis Smith Gallery on the Ringling College of Art and Design campus, from Oct. 18 through Nov. 20.

The first event will be this Friday, Oct. 18, in conjunction with the Ringling College Art Walk, which showcases the work of exhibiting artists, college faculty and students. An opening reception will be held from 5-8 p.m.

Founder of Culture Hustlers and the Mobile Incubator, Lucas Spivey, and Ringling College’s Business of Art & Design Department have joined together to curate the gallery into a showcase of the entrepreneurial journey. Inside immersive installations, creative entrepreneurs will share inspiring stories and provide visitors with practical advice on how to succeed, both artistically and financially.

According to Kathleen Sobr, head of the Ringling College Business of Art and Design Department, the event grew out of the department’s growing focus on entrepreneurship. “Our incoming students are increasingly interested in an entrepreneurial career path,” she said, “which led us to increase our initiatives and offerings, including this exhibition.”

The event, she said, was first conceived in November, 2016. “We invited Lucas Spivey, creator of the Mobile Incubator, to come to the campus as a visiting founder.” Spivey’s Ringling College visit was part of his goal was to visit all 50 states to meet artist/entrepreneurs and hear and record their stories.

Spivey and Sobr started kicking ideas around, and the result was this first “Artists Minding Their Business” exhibition, which Spivey agreed to curate.

This exhibition will showcase eight artists as entrepreneurs. “Our goal was to be as diverse as possible in our artist selection process,” Sobr said. “We wanted to show each artist’s work and tell the story of how their business evolved, from conception to implementation.” Spivey recorded interviews with each of the artists. Guests can watch on monitors throughout the gallery, or use an IPad provided by the gallery to take their own interactive tour.

In addition to working closely with Lucas on the planning and execution of the show, two students, Emily Fritz and Juliana Reolon Pereira, also served as marketing coordinators, driving student engagement and interest through digital and on-campus initiatives.

 “The Artists Minding Their Business” exhibition is monumental to Ringling College and students of all majors as it visualizes what it means to be the writer of your own creative story through practical business methodologies,” Emily said. “The showcased stories are each a reflection of the dreams and aspirations many art students hold, and it’s rewarding as business students to help bridge the gap between simply dreaming and actually doing,” Juliana added.

The event will kick off on Oct. 18 with visiting artists from “Hellcats USA,” a production studio based in Orlando. On Oct. 23, Hannah Cole of Sunlight Tax in Asheville, NC, will video-conference a two-hour workshop, “Taxes for Artists, Freelancers and Creative Businesses.” On Oct. 30, the visiting artist will be Le’ Andra LeSeur, an interdisciplinary artist from Jersey City, NJ; and on Nov. 6, visual artist Bryce McCloud from Nashville will step into the spotlight.

Featured artists will include: Diego Orlandini, a visual artist based in Miami; Rosemarie Wilson, a poet based in Detroit, MI; Chef Kimberly, an artisan food chef, Baraboo, WI; Cole, from Sunlight Tax, and Spivey, whose Culture Hustlers is based in Boston, MA.

Asked what she hopes guests will take away from the exhibition, Sobr said, “We all know that Ringling graduates are incredibly successful and end up working at top companies. We want to shine a light on the other path artists can take - the entrepreneurs who want to create something entirely new, and carve their own path in the world. Small business entrepreneurship is a viable option for artists, and is worthy of being showcased.”