Innovating Through Artistry

Archive for October, 2007|Monthly archive page

Halloween Fun is Big Business

In The Idea on October 31, 2007 at 8:02 am

Halloween isn’t for just kids anymore. In 2006 over 85 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds planned to celebrate the spooky holiday, along with 77 percent of 25 to 34-year-olds and 71 percent of 35 to 44-year-olds.

“Halloween has especially exploded among young adults who are celebrating with large parties and elaborate costumes, driving spending and bringing good news for retailers,” said Phil Rist, vice president of strategy for BIGresearch. “With the holiday falling on a Wednesday this year, young adults may begin participating in Halloween activities the weekend before and spend several days celebrating.”

Halloween is in fact a big business, raking in an estimated 5 billion in related sales for retailers.

Got a spooky or silly business idea that could be next years big trick or treat?

Frankly, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays of the year because you are free to act silly, pretend to be anyone you want to be and of course there is the excuse to buy and eat endless amounts of candy. No wonder kids and adults like it~

This past Sunday afternoon I was on my way to a rehearsal. I decided to return a quick call to a client. Saturday night a friend of mine had a costume party. In my car were remnants of one of the costumes. My husband, Chuck, had this hysterical out-of-the-box costume that was a white toilet. With it he bought various fake items one might find in the toilet, as well as the funniest little gadget I have ever heard in my life- a fart machine.

Needless to say, for some unknown reason, every time I hit a bump in the car, the machine emitted a rather loud and boisterous sound, when I was on the phone with my client. It was not long before I HAD to explain the sounds because I could barely contain my own laughter. ( Once I told my client he could not stop laughing either..)

While the combined cost of our costumes was $200.12, it was the $16.95 item, the fart machine, that kept our friends entertained for hours…


Nourish Your Soul

In Emotional Intelligence on October 27, 2007 at 1:23 pm

I have never felt so inspired in my life. Friday night I went to Transitions Book Store, 1000 W. North Avenue Chicago, IL and had the priviledge of hearing Tama Kieves speak about her book This Time I Danced.

After graduating with honors from Harvard University in Law, and rising quickly on the fast track in a prestigious law firm, Tama took a leap of faith and gave it all up in search of finding her safe haven-her net.

As a young girl Tama loved to write. She always wanted to write but her father, in particular, told her it wasn’t practical. So instead she squashed down her feelings and made herself get through law school– until her special day arrived– the day she decided it was time to leap and trust that if she followed her heart, instead of her head, that the net she needed to save her passionate soul would appear.

Tama left her job as an attorney, as well as her status of a Harvard law degree behind her, but took her first few steps off her own cliff filled with a love for writing. Tama waited tables to pay the bills while she started her journey to lead an inspired life that she 100% loves. It took Tama 12 years to write her book– during which time Tama learned to create the inspired life she describes in her book.

Tama’s book and mine, Build a Blue Bike, are shockingly similiar. We both share our own experiences on how to reach an inspired path. But we speak from two different perspectives- mine as someone who thougt that I had “leaped” simply by going to school to become an artist– but who realized I was going to literally die from a lack of inspiration if I didn’t leap again in search of a new net before I even graduated with a performing degree from Northwestern University. While Tama, on the other hand, listened to “the voice of reason” –which meant going to law school until it almost killed all of her spirit and dreams. It was Tama’s own near death experience- her own desire to sleep her life away- that finally awoke her to leap in search of her net.

If you want to be inspired and really get what I am saying- if you want to try and have that “AH-HA” moment- go and buy her book: This Time I Dance! by Tama Kieves. You will need lots of inspirational moments so take every one you get! It took you awhile to get to where you are, and it will take awhile to shed yourself of the fear you have of leaping as well.

This day, for me personally, has been filled with an amazing current of creative electricity. I wonder if all of you have felt the same cosmic vibe? Wow. What a powerful day.

My day began with a creativity and innovation workshop that revved up my juices and ended with a young woman at the back of Transitions Book store, who shared with Tama and all of us there, that she had just quit her job to follow her heart. As of 9pm Friday night this brave soul has no idea where her heart is going to guide her life. Her exact words were” I quit because I simply couldn’t go on that way any longer.”

You see nourishing your soul is not a choice. If you don’t, your body catches up with you and destroy’s your health until you either listen or choose to follow what it needs most–your passionate heart filled to the brim. It can take quite awhile to catch up with you- decades even-

But without your passion filling every moment you live, and all you do, it is only a matter of time until your body says enough and you physically get really sick.

Yes, I understand that pursuing anything as close to you as your true identity is an undeniable risk. But what is life if not for becoming the brightest light you can be? And yes, it might even defy reason why you are following your soul, instead of your logical brain that knows how you can earn money to pay your bills and run on creative fumes. I, of all people, realize that leaping off high cliffs is not for the faint of heart. It has moments that are truly hard. Especially at first, mostly because you have little faith that a net will always appear, no matter what.

But you must try and find a way- a person- an idea- a source of inspiration and hope to begin to do this. You don’t have to go over the edge of the cliff today but you can learn to leap into the air for a few moment at a time until you get use to doing it.

The only difference between Tama and myself- is that I leaped with a plan. I did not wait to suffer in a dead end career to leap– I somehow knew to leap before then. I don’t think I am smarter because I did. I simply came from an entreprenurial family that taught me that risk is part of life as is evolution and change. It did not make it any easier for me, but it made me more easily wiling to leap and trust in the universe– and in myself–to recognize when the net appeared.

What will help you move towards a life you love instead of towards the one that owns you? How does playing small in the world– by not risking everything you presently are, for who you want to become– help you? How long do you think it will take before that life consumes you?

My book and this blog are my love, sweat and tear stained hand reaching out to you. My attempts to reach you and touch you are to passionately say to you PLEASE– I can’t stand watching any more creative people and their passions die or get buried or lost. It is too painful to watch when I can, and know how to, help you. I bear witness to too many who have allowed fear to be their God–

Put your faith in the power of your beauty. Trust in what you love enough to find a way to create a plan. Try leaping with some new ideas or new behaviours. In time, the net will appear.

As you do, you will find yourself more willing to leap and in time will trust that the nets will come.

I can assure you, that when you leap, that one of the very first people you will meet– someone that will seriously impact you– is someone who will doubt your every choice and make you feel very small. It is the law of attraction in the universe. It is almost like the cosmo’s way of testing your sincerity- a form of sick humor– to make sure you are really willing to become strong enough to stay with the force of your passions.

It is only when you pass that stumbling block– clear that hurdle– that you have a chance to heal and begin to accept that you can live life on your own terms.

Any terms you wish.

But terms that involve feelings that excite you and make you happy and satisfied in life and will pay all your bills. Maybe all those things will not happen at first but they really will appear. REALLY. I am proof. The life I lead now is far richer than any one I had planned. Where would I be now if I had following a path that no longer inspired me, when I was studying clarinet performance at Northwestern University? My passions were bigger than only the sound I make on the clarinet and thank God I allowed them to guide me.

Besides, I know you can far exceed anything I have accomplished. Why? Because anything I have done, I had to learn without books like Tama’s or mine or workshops that helped me to discover the life that was waiting for me to trust in. I went through the school of hard knocks, as did Tama, to find a life filled with nourishment for the soul.

I am in the process right now of rebuilding my creative career development course, that I taught for ten years at DePaul University, which is the basis of my book, Build a Blue Bike. I have helped a lot of students, collegues and friends create the beginnings of a passionate life in search of a net. In January of 2008, in Chicago, I am going to offer this course for free to those who demonstrate they are ready to begin this journey. ( more on that later)

With my book written, I am now ready and need to get back to doing what I love most- helping creative people live life on their own terms…

Who’s terms?

Your terms…

What I teach, can simply help you get there..

Art, Business and Community Unite

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Fashion, The Idea, WEBSITES & BLOGS on October 25, 2007 at 7:06 pm

Artist Petra Geiger is accustomed to making her uniquely designed handbags and selling them at art fairs around the country. She has done it for years. But in October of 2004, Geiger decided to try her hand at creating something new for the city of Atlanta: the first Beehive Co-op.

This retail space, home to 46 designers who rent whatever space they need – a table, shelf, or a boutique- is the first franchise of its kind. The designers individually sell their creations, ranging from paper to jewelry to cupcakes. All together these 46 designers provide a fresh new alternative to the big box mass-produced everything-looks-the-same stores that most of us are use to shopping inside of these days.

Geiger’s concept is taking off. Not only is she receiving a great deal of recognition in Atlanta, but with sales of more than $180,000 last year, and an expected growth rate of 20-30% in 2007, Geiger has decided she has a concept worth franchising.

“Our mission, simply put, is to nurture the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of emerging designers and provide them with new markets and opportunities for their products.”

Geiger started franchising in January of 2007 and hopes to open 2-3 locations each year. Geiger is looking for franchisees who can manage co-op space, market the concept and connect with their communities and local artists.

To find out more go to

Bite-Size Progress: October 07

In Entrepreneurial Tool Box, The Bite-Size Arts Ensemble, The Idea, Writing on October 24, 2007 at 9:26 pm

For those of you wondering why I have not posted in awhile, I have been suffering from a really bad cold. Taking a few days off to rest is not easy for me, but I have felt poorly enough to not ignore following doctors orders. I am one of those that thrives being very busy, so it is hard for me to simply sit around.

Besides that, my agent, Susan Schulman, is finally sending off Build a Blue Bike to prospective publishers. She tells me in about six weeks we will know who is interested in buying it and then an auction will be held amongst the prospective interested parties. By Christmas my book should have a publisher. While impatient me wishes this was all happening sooner, all of this time is well needed to get back to working on the other projects I have begun.

Finally, The Bite-Size Arts Ensemble web site will be built. I have almost everything completed to put it up. It has been a complicated process building this not-for-profit venture, because I have had to sort out all of the various ways I want to use this concept and define where each part belongs. If you too are a creative person, than I am sure you also generate lots of good ideas. Most artistic/creative types do- sometimes by the minute. The trick is to figure out which ones are worth working on and which need to be set aside. I have had to sort out my concepts for Bite-Size in this same way.

One part of The Bite-Size Arts Ensemble will be the entrepreneurial band I take with me to schools to present my speech called Creative Value. Another part of The Bite-Size Arts Ensemble is building entrepreneurial artistic incubators, for students at institutions of higher learning, through my concept of building creative currency. Yet another part of The Bite-Size Arts Ensemble, is my own entrepreneurial performing group, here in Chicago, that will showcase a diverse talent base of artistic entrepreneurs in an entertaining setting while providing a performance/showcase venue for myself and others.

One of the problems I have had developing my concepts for Bite-Size is that, as you can see, I have had so many ideas about what it can do, that I have had trouble sorting out where all of them purposefully belong. Each idea I found to have merit needed to find a proper place to work. One of my goals with this blog, is to help you see how I too struggle to sort out various parts of things I create. If you go back and look at other posts about Bite-Size you can see my struggle and progression.

Letting time pass to sort all this out has been a very good thing. It has allowed me to reflect and think about what really matters to me in life and how I can use my passion purposefully. I want the ventures I create to last a long time, so it is worth it to me to take the time to try and set them up to work for me and be well integrated in my life.

I hope you will take the time you need, with your very next great idea, to find a place for it to work in your life. Every moment you spend on it, try to figure out how it can shape who you are and what you can become.

The world is waiting for what only your creative gifts can offer. Leap and the net will appear…

Do You Say Whatever?

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on October 13, 2007 at 10:33 pm

One of the most interesting things about starting a venture of any kind is watching how others treat you when you start. Most ignore you. Some pause and listen. Others embrace you and few sign up for your mission–at first.

It is human nature to sit back and watch before risking your money, time or energy in supporting a mission, idea or venture. Customers do it, grantors do it, family and friends too. After all who knows what will happen? Our big ideas must become more real and grow for others to believe we are serious and that we have something real to offer.

But where exactly is the tipping point? When do things start to take off?

This week I met with the head of The Coleman Foundation, Michael Hennessy. The Coleman Foundation supports and funds a number of causes including entrepreneurship education. I asked to meet with Mike to learn more about his views on entrepreneurship in the arts.

Mike and I talked about how difficult it is to have others come to embrace the concept. We talked about how much work it is to find the right ways to promote entrepreneurship in the arts inside a higher education system that has too many other things they are focused on, or who have simply ignored the concept, turned their back, closed their doors and largely have refused to even listen.

On one level it was a relief to hear yet another voice who feels as I do, and on another level it was difficult to understand why the last twenty years- my career span and roughly Mike’s at The Coleman Foundation- has yielded only a very small shift, in the last few years, towards embracing what seems like an obvious important part of teaching artists how to make a living inside their art.

My own passion for this cause has come from being intimately involved with artists that I have hired, taught and worked alongside. I have helped as many as I can through my business ventures and have come to recognize that we need a lot more helping hands.

Plain and simple our education system is failing those who graduate in the arts. Artists are graduating without being able to read and write or think like others do who earn other degrees. Learning to wiggle your fingers, sway in synchronicity or walk the runway is not enough of an education. Playing lotto, to win a job, does not require a college degree.

Artists are working everywhere but largely not full time inside the arts. Artists often are working at minimum wage jobs for music stores, art supply stores, for retail clothing stores, as cafe baritas, or bank tellers, waiters in restaurants or delivering the pizza you ordered for dinner last night. Paying your student loans easily, if at all, working any of these jobs is nearly impossible.

It is time the burden, to help artists thrive, be squarely placed back on the system that has failed us. But will educators ever reach the tipping point? Will the world of education ever come to recognize what they need to do? Or will the denial continue? Do I need to get on Oprah and express my views, with a NY Times best selling book, as a catalyst, to help begin to significantly change what is happening in our education system for artists?

Well, frankly, it would help. Perception and popular opinion matters more than what we know in our heart-of-heart as truth. It is really sad to me that status and popularity and power produce results. It is no wonder that so many in those positions wind up abusing what they control. It is also no wonder that we all seek status and popularity and power on some level- society has taught us that getting on Oprah sells what we have to deliver.

But who cares about any of this really-life goes on, with or without the arts, right?

Where have our values and morals as a country gone? For .99 cents you can download your favorite song and who cares if the artist starves? Every man and woman for themselves- right?

We, as a society, are creating and supporting disposable art. But then again we are a disposable society. Isn’t it the American way to throw it away and get something new anyway?


Maybe it is exactly because we have become a society that too easily says “whatever” that we all need to stand up together and fight for what we need to thrive as artists. A large part of our problems come from the educational system that teaches us. We need to become united to change the lack of interest and incredible ignorance our educational system promotes and supports through their lack of entreprenurial training for artists.

It is time to stop saying whatever.

So what can you do to make a difference?

Ask other artists you know, who care about their future, to start reading this blog. Write letters to your administrators and educators about what is missing in your education, or would have helped you in your education, to achieve a higher vision and purpose from you art. For God’s sake- do something. Say something. Stand up for something. But please, don’t say whatever….

Hey Man, We’re Getting the Band Together

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on October 7, 2007 at 3:16 am

Things are really starting to come together. I will be headed down to University of Texas-Austin sometime in November to give my Creative Value Presentation.

In the next week I will be constructing, with 5 other musicians, the best musical frame to hang around my presentation, in the form of inspirational rock tunes that send positive commentary and clear messages about what the arts need, right now, to stop the art-forms we know, and have loved, from being strangled, shot or starved-to-death before our eyes.

Is it a coincidence, as we implode as “the creative class”, that we are IN the 21st century- a creative focused economy- which believes in the power of creativity to change the ways of the world? Or is it opportunity knocking on our door?

I think any one of us could have come up with the concept for My Space: a little piece of your own creative space, to share whatever you want with the world, on the internet. What is so innovative about that? Not much really– except that unlike the highly developed skilled creative talent of the creative class– the founders of My Space knew how to take their simple creative idea and create real economic value.

I think the only reason more of us don’t do this is because we don’t know how to.

We simply don’t know how to take the visions we see dancing in our heads, and make them economic engines that can take us anywhere we want to go.

So hey man, we’re getting the band together- finally.

I am so excited to be realizing some of my own visions that have danced like sugar plums in my own head. I can finally see them–they are knocking on my door.

I went shopping today to find my stage clothes for Creative Value. It was tricky finding things that looked professional but also allowed me to move freely in them so that I can build my bike and speak. I bought 2 sets of the same clothes, but when it came to my shoes, I struggled. The pair I liked was out of stock and not easily found. I decided to look again at those fashion designer sneeker’s. I found a great pair and bought them. When I asked about buying the second pair, the sales clerk told me that they had to send them to me from, the only other store that had them, Austin-Texas.

Is it a coincidence that the walking shoes I need, to give my Creative Value presentation, are waiting for me to be picked up in the same city I will walk in them for the very first time with the beat of the band?

Coincidence and Irony are the founding fathers of economic preparation. When they routinely show up, we are headed in the right direction. Where do they appear in your life right now? Follow them. They are calling your passionate entreprenurial name.

Isn’t it about time we find new ways forward to thrive as artists? Isn’t it about time we feel safe and whole and worthy enough to respect each others points of view, and work collaboratively to discover new creative and financially positive horizons? Everywhere I look, in the arts, these simple, but key, ingredients to economic success are missing.

I can hardly wait to get the band together and start to literally begin the drumming beat for my passionate cause. Are you ready to hear the beat? Come and join me on my mission. The band can always use another drummer…

The Rap on Rap

In Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Music on October 4, 2007 at 8:25 pm

dreamstime_640868.jpgSince hip-hop began in poor, predominantly black neighborhoods of New York in the 1970s, the genre has had an association with gang culture and violence. Lyrics heavy with lurid tales of “gang-banging” have often included references to drive-by shootings and drug dealing. Rap, grime and other urban genres are often the music choices of “the hood”- our society’s black poor ghetto youth.

Do rappers themselves promote a negative lifestyle?

Ever since the deaths of two prominent American rappers, Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls, in the mid-1990s, mainstream hip-hop has become increasingly commercial. Rappers such as P Diddy, Jay-Z and 50 Cent have become multimillionaire businessmen with their own empires. These high-fliers argue that they promote an excellent lifestyle for teenagers – because, despite under-privileged upbringings, they have created successful business careers.

Yet is it a positive influence to promote a money-driven lifestyle, considering that more hip-hop artists have been murdered in the past 30 years than artists from any other genre? Is it a good things that many hip-hop artists rap about violent feuds, involving guns and drugs to the most underprivileged, uneducated segment of our population, as their vehicle for promoting wealth?

I recently saw on our local WGN morning news, in Chicago, a short segment on rapper mogul Percy “Master P ” Miller. Miller’s No Limit Records has sold over 75 million records worldwide. Unbelievable to me- I have never even heard of the guy before- though I can’t say I listen to rap, so really my reaction is no surprise. Yet, Miller is one of Hip-Hop’s wealthiest moguls. At one point, his net worth was estimated over $250 million dollars.

Master P was on WGN news talking about his committment to cleaning up the lyrics in his rap songs, to set a better example, and about his new book called Guaranteed Success. According to Master P “It’s time to educate our people in financial investments, real estate, and taxes.”

“I’ve matured, and it’s time for a career change and to think out of the box,” said Miller. “If I want to run the music industry, I’d hang out at the music award shows with Jay-Z, Puffy, and 50 Cent,” said Miller. But instead, Master P wants to ensure his family’s future while embarking on a national campaign to build generational wealth.

Master P is also opening up youth centers in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York that have gyms and libraries. Master P spoke passionately about wanting the youth, that listens to his music, to play some hoops, pick up a book and get an education.

If rap, and the arts as a whole, had more citizen scholars in it just like Master P, what would our world be like? You may not be into Master P’s delivery or what can seem like a box-set-of-hype about building wealth through real estate, as seen on those late night cable tv infomercials, but for the market he is passionately targeting—he has it just right. Master P can truly change his world.

Is it your turn next? What are you waiting for? If such a negative thing as rap, and what it promotes, can attract so much money, think of what your passionate beliefs to help mankind, using your highly developed artistic creativity, can do.