Innovating Through Artistry

Archive for December, 2008|Monthly archive page

My 2009, and Yours?

In Art, Cooking & Food, Creative Support, Emotional Intelligence, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Fashion, Health & Wellness, Leadership, Marketing, Music, Risk, The Idea, Theater/Film, Writing on December 28, 2008 at 3:37 am

dreamstime_7322003Before every New Year, I find myself always hoping to be and do better than the year before. Don’t you? Yet, lately I have been feeling like my progress has seemed more like 2 steps backwards and 1/2 a step forward.

But if you’re anything like me, artistic, sensitive, self-critical and gushing with ideas, it’s hard to not want to let yourself flow with your creativity, even when you know progress can sometimes be painful. After all what do you have to lose- except for 2 1/2 steps one direction or the other, right?

The issue, of course, is when what once felt like a peaceful flow has now turned into a raging river. The kind of shift in your thinking or situation that makes you wonder what possessed you in the first place to ever think you could peacefully have your ideas flow into accomplishment- just the way you envisioned.

So now what?

I know how you feel, if you have ever felt this way. This whole past year for me, with my book, has felt like a roller coaster ride. My ride has had lots of unexpected twists and turns and the occasional jolt, just for good measure, when I least expected it. And all this adventure has me feeling a wee bit wobbly. (just like the Weeble Wobbles, remember them?)

Do I really want MORE adventure in 2009?

How about you? Are you ready to let your creativity spring like jack, out of-the-box, unconventionally? Are you ready for some bumps, twists and turns on your entrepreneurial creative adventure ride?

Not sure?

But remember, parts of the ride are GUARANTEED to be exhilarating- and it’s always those parts we most remember. Terror-filled-moments only last briefly, but when they occur how much more the rush of exhilaration mattered. Feeling creative freedom is worth a little terror, I think. Don’t you?

And so for me, wobbly legs and all, 2009 must include a number of new challenges and a few more new adventure rides.

My first, on both fronts, will be to self-publish Build a Blue Bike. My friend, composer and jazz pianist David Cutler, has just finished a book called The Savvy Musician. He and I have decided to release our books together sometime before June of 2009. Our books fit nicely together.

Of course this is not at all the road I expected to take, but it’s one that has just opened and I have to explore. I am over feeling stuck and wondering “so now what do I do with the manuscript?” It’s more fun to be looking forward to the anticipation of being on another creative adventure-filled-ride, really.

I have about 5 other projects, too, that I need to sit down to chart my course of action for in 2009. Of course, I already know that I will ultimately have to learn to let go of each of my plans, eventually, because each I plan will twist and turn and jolt in ways I cannot possibly right now even begin to imagine!

So why bother to plot my planning?

Because I believe luck favors the prepared mind. Hard work and perseverance in the end always win. Adding new hands, feet and heads as unexpected surprises into your adventure sometimes means rewritting the plan. And, as a result, that may mean the story may take longer to tell, but your determination and effort only make your story all that much more compelling when you reach your “lucky” happy ending. Our dreams, with preparation and perseverance, really can come true.

Welcome in 2009!

To ring in the New Year I am headed off to Santa Fe. It’s cold there but a good fire, a few unfinished books and a massage, and hot tub or two, at Ten Thousand Waves, are waiting for me there. I hope you too will spend some time before the New Year to plan your “luck.” I’m rooting for both of us in 2009!

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The Joy of Being Dustin Hoffman

In Theater/Film on December 26, 2008 at 5:30 am

This article was written by Jeanne Wolf and appeared in Parade Magazine on December 21st. It is an insightful read into the mindset and life of many a starving artist- only this one made it!
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My wife says the one thing that differentiates me from a lot of other people, or at least is an essential part of my character, is that I don’t have a censoring gene,” Dustin Hoffman says with an impish grin. “My friends just wait for me to reveal what’s on my mind. They know for sure that I’m going to say something inappropriate.”

Hoffman, now 71, has been saying surprising lines onscreen for more than 40 years, since his Oscar-nominated debut in The Graduate. He starred as the confused college grad Benjamin Braddock, who famously asked an older married woman (played by Anne Bancroft), “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me…Aren’t you?”

The self-described “short, funny-looking guy with acne” went on to win the Academy Award twice and score seven nominations. His films include Midnight Cowboy, Kramer vs. Kramer, Tootsie, Rain Man, and Lenny. This year he lent his voice to animated movies, including the hit Kung Fu Panda and The Tale of Despereaux. In his latest film, the romance Last Chance Harvey, Hoffman plays a lonely guy who finds late-in-life love with Emma Thompson. And proving he still likes to be a bit inappropriate, he looks at me and says, “Don’t worry, there’s no big bedroom scene. We didn’t have enough money for the special effects to make me look great naked.”

Hoffman grew up in L.A. His mother was a jazz pianist, and his dad was a set decorator. Ironically, Hoffman stumbled into his acting career by accident. “It was only because I couldn’t do anything else,” he says. “I was flunking out of college. And I didn’t want to go into the service because my brother had gone in, and he said, ‘Whatever you do, Dusty, don’t go into the service.’ I happened to take an acting course when I was 21. It was the first experience I had in my life where there was no clock. Time didn’t matter. I had never felt that before.” After two years at the Pasadena Playhouse, Hoffman moved to New York City.

“Then, for 10 years, I was an unemployed actor,” he remembers. “I roomed with Gene Hackman, who was friends with Robert Duvall. They were also unemployed. We’d have little parties because we didn’t have any money. You know, the Chianti bottle with the candle on it. Everybody comes over and brings stuff. And if someone were to say, at any of those get-togethers, ‘See those three guys there? They’re going to wind up being movie stars,’ the place would have laughed. And we would have laughed the loudest, because we were beat up by all the rejection.”

The lead role in Mike Nichols’ 1967 film The Graduate made Hoffman an overnight star. That soon was followed by Midnight Cowboy and a second Oscar nomination. Though anxious to keep proving himself, he was never willing to compromise. He gained a reputation for delivering knockout performances—and also for being a pain-in-the-neck perfectionist.

“It got in the press that I was difficult,” he says. “That was my signature—they want everyone to have a signature. Warren Beatty’s reputation was that he screwed around a lot. And yet he will tell you, ‘Hoffman screwed around more than I did.’ ” Whatever the count, that early wildness has given way to a calmer, more relaxed, and definitely funnier Hoffman.

“It’s true,” he says. “I am a happier person now. I’ve changed a lot. I had a big break-through after I took a couple of years when I didn’t want to do movies. I went back to work with total passion. You change as you go. Time alters you. It’s been a flip from the time when I was a shy, unhappy teenager. Now I can appreciate my own joy and my sense of irony.”

Instead of becoming daunted by the shadow of his own legendary image, he’s learned to be more playful as he’s gained wisdom. At a recent gala honoring Hoffman and Clint Eastwood, the audience got restless as speeches went on and on. When Hoffman finally came to the podium, he said, “A thought went through my mind as I was sitting at my table: What if I died while I was waiting to receive my Lifetime Achievement Award?” The room roared with laughter.

Leaning back in his chair recently in the office of his L.A. production company, Hoffman smiles about that night, then turns serious as he reflects on the meaning of his life and career.

“I guess making things fun is the only revenge you have against mortality,” he says. “Of course I think about mortality. So many of my colleagues and friends have died that I’m forced to think about it.” He pauses—figuring out how he wants to describe his attitude toward death. “What we would all like is to kind of choose when we’re ready to go, and we’d not have any fear. The best part about death is that it’s not selective. It’s comforting to know that everyone dies. Death is the pure democracy.”

Hoffman has always tried to have his family with him when he works. He has six kids—two with his first wife, actress/dancer Anne Byrne, and four with his current wife of 28 years, Lisa.

“When I got married for the second time, my wife and I made a deal,” he says. “We agreed that we wouldn’t let work separate us. We’ve stuck to that. I sometimes say that we’re wealthy gypsies. I was holding my kids when they were babies on the sets of my movies. A couple of my children even saw me dressed as a woman in Tootsie. Lisa knows me. We can read each other. We’ve always had this loving connection.”
Hoffman remains proud of his grown-up children. “They get mad at me for telling everyone about their accomplishments or for finding cute girls for my sons,” he says. “But even though they love to hate me for it or cruelly imitate me, I can’t stop bragging. They are my true credits.”

How do his children express their affection? “We’re a tactile family,” he says, “and I never get over the fact that even though my kids are no longer ‘kids,’ they like to kiss me for no reason or when we greet each other. When they’re leaving, they say, ‘Bye, Pop,’ and they grab me and kiss me on the cheek. I’ve never taken that for granted, even though they don’t even know that they’re doing it.”

I ask Hoffman if this love from his family and his need to keep changing at 71 is what has brought him to his current point—mellow but not satisfied. “Mellow?” he says, surprised. “Let me think.” He pauses, then polishes the description of himself: “OK. I’ll say, ‘Satisfied but not satisfied.’ ”

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

In Accounting, Art, Cooking & Food, Creative Support, Current Events, Customer Service, Emotional Intelligence, Employees, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Artist Contest Contestants, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Fashion, Health & Wellness, Interesting Articles, Leadership, Legal, Marketing, Money, Music, Networking, Risk, The Clarinet Shop, The Entrepreneurial Artist Competition, The Idea, Theater/Film, Writing on December 23, 2008 at 3:04 am

f91ddde14399af3663324567dfa4My wish for you, ON CHRISTMAS DAY,
will be for you TOO, to keep the GRINCH at bay!

But if by chance, you simply cannot,
Band mighty together, as a great big Who-Ville lot!

WWHHYY????? Smarty-Arty, I hear you say?

BECAUSE, with all your JOY stirring together,
the grinch who came to visit, just might feel a WEE bit better.

Merry Christmas, my dears, what’s your ETA,
to ENTREPRENEUR The Arts, in a new innovative way.
PLEASE COME WITH ME, lets ride far, far and away!

signed your friend, an artistic missionIST, a student of Dr. Suess-a-visionIST, gliding, and sent with love.

A Grand Tradition Comes to an End

In Current Events, The Clarinet Shop on December 22, 2008 at 2:59 am

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Last week on Thursday and Friday I set up shop at the Midwest Band & Orchestra Conference, at the Chicago Hilton and Towers in downtown Chicago.

Having exhibited at the conference for over 20 years, in the basement, I decided to opt for a quite room upstairs in the hotel for clients to come and chat, have a cup of coffee, a cookie and get away from the noise and, of course, try some clarinets if they desired.

Never did I imagine that for the price of catering- I spent a total of roughly $800.00- that I would be treated to the end of a grand tradition in the Grand Traditions Room at the Hilton. The room was free if I catered and as you can see from the pictures, this opulent room was filled with hotel grand memorablia including many photographs of presidents and political dignitaries.

Not only was this a special two days because of my surroundings, but in 2009 The Midwest Band & Orchestra Clinic will be moving to McCormick West, after 35 years at the Chicago Hilton.

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This years Midwest Band & Orchestra Clinic, an important conference every year to attend in the music world, marks the end of a grand tradition of meeting friends and clients at the Chicago Hilton Hotel and enjoying meals and drinks together year after year.

I really enjoyed this year’s conference and especially after having spent a lot more money to be downstairs on the noisy trade show floor, truly appreciated having this wonderful space as my showroom. While I understand the conference has completely outgrown this facility, the warmth and personal touches of the Hilton will be long lost on the big convention center at McCormick. Artistry needs the human touch, and while I am certain this conference will continue to thrive, we all need to remember that without it, we can easily look like just another commodity for sale.

The Voice of America

In Leadership, Music, Risk, The Idea on December 18, 2008 at 6:53 pm

Looking to break new ground in musical performance? How about picking a theme focused on being proud of America?

American Voices, started by pianist and enterprising performing entrepreneur John Ferguson, began because John saw a need ( a hole in the market place) to present the culture of the United States in a positive light through American Music. John realized he had an opportunity that others were not capitalizing on by reaching out to isolated areas of the world and represented America, through his work, as a sort of cultural ambassador.

How did he do it?
By bringing awareness of the cultural interaction of various ethnic immigrant groups in American music to other cultures. John realized by doing so he could bring everyone together and simultaneously promote young American talents through international performances.

What a great idea, huh? Not to mention that John is finding the funding support he needs allowing American Voices to evolve.

As a result of John’s innovative idea, American Voices, is an organization of many firsts:

American Voices is the first American musical organization committed to interactive performances and education in the Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries.

American Voices brought the first American Hip Hop group, HaviKoro, to visit Azerbaijan and Vietnam.

The first Broadway performances ever in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Vietnam were created by American Voices.

The first international jazz festivals in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan happened also, thanks to John Ferguson.

As the founder of the only international jazz festivals in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, American Voices has for three years offered free concerts and workshops, to the public, featuring prominent headline artists including Toots Thielemans and Maynard Ferguson. As the presenter of the first Broadway performances in Uzbekistan, and the first U.S. Hip Hop performers in Vietnam, American Voices is bringing cultures together by highlighting local young talent in their performances.

Not only is it possible to create something new if you use your imagination and allow your thinking to be unconventional but maybe you can even bring hope and inspiration to local students, musicians and audiences through this kind of collaboration, like John is doing, around the world in just three years.

Creativity, Innovation and Leadership

In Author: Lisa Canning, Leadership, Risk, The Idea on December 17, 2008 at 11:51 am

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“Trust your intuition, it’s just like going fishin’.”-
Paul Simon

When was the last time you went fishin’?

“The key to success is to risk thinking unconventional thoughts. Convention is the enemy of progress.”-
Trevor Baylis, inventor

Can you think unconventionally today?

“The guy who invented the wheel was an idiot. The guy who invented the other three, he was a genius.” –
Sid Caesar

What idea can you turn into your economic transportation?

“Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate and to connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empwering their lives.” –
Oprah Winfrey

What evidence do you have that your artistry is impacting others?

The MFA is the new MBA

In Author: Lisa Canning, Creative Support, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on December 15, 2008 at 8:45 pm

Thinking about trying to advance your career? Here are a few reasons why maybe going to art school wasn’t such a bad career move after all, if your willing to expand your thinking about what you can do with your profession.

#1 Getting into Harvard’s Business School must be easy. At least that’s what those who apply to the graduate program at the UCLA Department of Art must think, when they don’t get in. While Harvard MBA’s program admits about 10 percent of applicants, UCLA’s fine art graduate school admits only 3 percent.

What is driving this, you ask?

#2 Corporate recruiters. They now look for talent at top arts graduate schools like the Rhode Island School of Design, the School of the Arts Institute in Chicago and Michigan’s Cranbrook Academy of Art.

#3 In 1993, 61 percent of new recruits from the top-notch management consultancy firm McKinsey’s had MBA degrees. Less than a decade later, it was down to 43 percent, because McKinsey says other disciplines are just as valuable in helping new hires perform well at their firm.

#4 In the United States the number of graphic designers has increased tenfold in a decade; graphic designers outnumber chemical engineers by four to one.

#5 Since 1970, the United States has 30 percent more people living as writers and 50 percent more earning a living by composing or performing music. Some 240 U.S. universities have established creative writing MFA programs, up from fewer than twenty two decades ago.

#6 More Americans today work in arts, entertainment, and design than work as lawyers, accountants and auditors.

Thank you Mr. Daniel Pink, from A Whole New Mind:Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future (Riverhead Books)

And They Said It Couldn’t Be Done…

In Cooking & Food, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Interesting Articles, Leadership, Money, Risk, The Idea, Theater/Film on December 12, 2008 at 8:09 am

This article appeared in Entrepreneur Magazine online and offers four classic inspiring examples- mini-case studies- of four great entrepreneurs who made it big when other said they would not succeed.
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Entrepreneurs are notorious for their ability to press on with their ideas despite what other people tell them. Naysayers abound when innovators want to try things nobody has ever done. Fortunately, innovative entrepreneurs have persisted with their efforts and given us some of the modern luxuries we now take for granted.

The Wright brothers mimicked the birds. Henry Ford harnessed horse power. They are but two well-known examples of visionaries who propelled the 20th century forward. Other now-famous people stared down negativity and triumphed. Find out how four such business-savvy folks stuck it out in the face of adversity.

Clarence Birdseye knew inferior freezing methods led to bland-tasting reheated food, so he developed quick-freeze machinery to produce quality frozen food. Shoppers didn’t believe. Birdseye went broke. He stuck with it, eventually overcame consumer skepticism and went on to set the industry standard. Read more here.

Television network executives weren’t sure the viewing public would accept a sit-com with a Cuban leading man married to a feisty, American redhead. So Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball produced the “I Love Lucy” pilot with their own money. Network execs said TV shows had to be produced in New York and with kinescopes. Lucy and Desi took a salary cut to produce the show in Hollywood on expensive film, but, as part of the deal, the couple kept rights to the show. At every turn, Lucy and Desi were a step ahead of the studios, revolutionizing television along the way. Read more here.

Fred Smith wrote a term paper based on an idea for reliable overnight delivery. His professor gave him a C because the idea wasn’t feasible. Years later, many potential investors agreed with the professor, refusing to send capital Smith’s way. The funds he did raise in 1971 and ’72 were gone by ’74, along with his investors. One catchy slogan and several million dollars of hard-won capital later, Federal Express was on its way to profitability and long-term success. Read more here.

Steve Jobs wanted to give everyone a computer at a time when nobody realized computers were necessary to have. He founded Apple to create home computers, experienced some early success, faltered in the consumer market with the expensive Macintosh, was ousted from the company he founded, dabbled in computer animated movies—Pixar ring a bell?—and was eventually asked to return to his first love, where he turned around Apple at a time when it was in trouble. Read more here.

The New Bite-Size Arts Ensemble Logo- Animated!

In The Bite-Size Arts Ensemble on December 9, 2008 at 10:20 pm

The Bite-Size Arts Ensemble, albeit in its infancy as a Chicago based ensemble, is a concept I developed to bring the meaning of entrepreneurship alive to artists, arts students and recent graduates. As a result of an education system that currently teaches us mostly the art of preparing for “performance,” the purpose of the ensemble is to take the unique talents of each participant and create a performance that reflects what each of the participants creativity can offer the corporate and community at large. As part of the show each participant also will create an hour long workshop that is fee based to offer corporations or the community as creativity training.

The Bite-Size Arts Ensemble offers a group of artists customized performance oriented entrepreneurial training, or a school a new inexpensive entrance into teaching entrepreneurship. By learning how to bridge the gap into entrepreneurship, this ensemble offers a way to start testing your entrepreneurial concepts through marketing to the community at large. It can lead to helping you develop your own niche small business model–one that uniquely is your own.

If you live in Chicago check out our site at http://www.Bite-SizeArtsEnsemble.org We are looking for more artists to join us. Our website however is about to be rebuilt to reflect not only the training program offerings but also our upcoming concerts.

The Chicago Bite-Size Arts Ensemble has been going through some changes already- to be expected. Some artists found it too big of a stretch to evolve and have moved on and others are working on accomplishing their business models. While entrepreneurship may not be for everyone, it certainly creates opportunities for artists to think in new ways about how to thrive using their art form.

We are currently begining to plan a series of performances jointly for 2009 with Blue Damen Pictures that will include several shorts from a featured film they are working on. I hope you like our new animated logo. It was created by Jillian Solarczyk.

Contestant #4 Eli Epstein

In Entrepreneurial Artist Contest Contestants, Music on December 7, 2008 at 7:00 am

Written by Eli Epstein
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Inside Out audiences realize that classical music can be a tremendous resource for understanding oneself and others. It’s food for our minds, hearts and souls. And yet classical music is intangible, mysterious, and undiscovered by most of the American population. It’s generally thought of as elitist and inaccessible except to the knowledgeable few.

Inside Out builds bridges to audiences by showing that a connection with music is not so much about knowing (although it’s useful to know the historical and cultural context of a piece), it’s more about tapping into the emotional essence and universal human experience that’s inherent in every work of art, be it music, dance, theatre, film, or visual art. This innovative interdisciplinary approach helps concertgoers access their memories and activate their imaginations so that they can have more moving, meaningful, and personal experiences.

I’ve been passionate about classical music my whole life. As a child, I performed as soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra several times; as an adult I was a member of the prestigious Cleveland Orchestra for 18 years. In those formal settings, the artificial wall that separated musicians and audiences troubled me.

I began thinking about how I might improve the connection with an audience by creating a more informal atmosphere and presenting novel ways to help people relate better to the music. When I started conducting ensembles at the Cleveland Institute of Music in 2000, I noticed how much the students craved to be emotionally connected to what they were doing. I was rehearsing Brahms’s Serenade No. 2, and came to a difficult cello passage. Instead of saying, “Cellos, you really need to practice that,” I took a different tact. I said, “When I think about this melancholy passage, it reminds me of the gypsies in Vienna, who were probably looked down upon and didn’t have enough to eat.” An oboe player raised his hand and half-jokingly said, “That’s how I feel as a music student, looked down upon and hungry!” Everyone laughed. I said, “Okay, so you’ve felt how those gypsies might have felt. Hold onto that.” We played the passage again and the sound of the cello section changed completely. It was dark and emotional, and most of the technical problems had disappeared. The students and I were amazed. I started thinking about how I could give listening audiences a similar “right brain” experience.

I presented my first Inside Out Concert in Shaker Heights in 2002; I rented a church and asked colleagues from The Cleveland Orchestra to perform with me. I advertised this way: “Do you feel uncomfortable at classical music concerts? Are you scared about not knowing the rules of concert etiquette? Please wear comfortable clothes and bring your imaginations!”

I welcomed the audience of about 100 adults. I encouraged them to get physically comfortable by letting them stretch and breathe deeply, since people become more imaginative when they’re relaxed. I told them bits of information about each piece, and gave them creative ways to project their lives onto the music. For example, before we performed a Bach Fugue I told the audience that a fugue is about building something. I asked each of them to choose something they felt most earnest about building in their lives. I explained that every project takes many steps to complete. Every time the fugue melody was presented, they could think of it as a building block. Things always come up that we don’t expect so we have to improvise, like Bach, who improvised between the fugue statements. We demonstrated several excerpts, since familiarity helps people relax, then played it through. Afterwards people seemed excited. “I was totally engaged.” “I’m a rock ‘n’ roll guy, but I really liked this concert!” “When’s your next one?” I was juiced!

Through my collaboration with three different psychotherapists, Ceci MacDonnell LISW, Alan Bachers PhD, and Cynthia Anne Hale PhD, Inside Out has evolved to include guided visualizations to connect concertgoers with universal emotional themes such as joy, loss, strength, struggle, gratitude and grace.

For example, I presented Brahms’s Horn Trio, which, I told the audience, was written during the year after his mother died. I related that loss is a universal human experience, and led a guided meditation to help the audience get in touch with their sorrows. After the concert, the pianist of the trio said, “Eli, do you realize that half the people in the audience were crying during the third movement?”

In 2005, I left The Cleveland Orchestra and moved to Boston to have more time and energy to develop Inside Out and other creative endeavors. The Arlington Street Church in Boston has been hosting my Inside Out Concert Series for three years. Listeners have reported having amazing and moving experiences. In fact, 62% of survey respondents disclosed that this approach changed the way they thought about classical music. 
The Boston Globe, Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Santa Barbara News-Press have published feature articles about Inside Out.

Programs have varied in terms of method, repertoire and ensemble size (from solo to chamber and orchestral). I’ve presented diverse music of composers such as Beethoven, Ravel, Messiaen, and Paquito D’Rivera. I even presented a solo piano recital where Eve Kodiak, after performing Schumann’s Scenes from Childhood, asked the audience to share titles of episodes from their own childhoods. Then Eve improvised a whole new suite, a sort of “playback” of their personal childhood scenes.

Our society is hungry for meaningful experiences. People will come back to classical music concerts if they think there’s a good chance they’ll have another moving experience. I would use the Entrepreneur the Arts funding to reach a wider audience through orchestral concerts, CD’s, and radio.

It’s been challenging to persuade established musical organizations that incorporating the Inside Out format could help them bring in and build a new audience base for classical music in America. Alan Brown, director of Audience Insight said, “What you have here, Eli, is a lever to get people into the concert hall again and again.”

Eli Epstein
www.eliepstein.com

Hey, do you want to BLEND in?

In Accounting, Art, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Fashion, Leadership, Marketing, Money, Music, Networking, Risk, The Idea on December 6, 2008 at 8:49 am

Remember me? Ryan Conrad? Juniata College Grad? Last time I blogged I shared with you my story about speaking at graduation.

I am sure you have heard the expression “ a little fish in a big pond”? I am now that little fish in a big pond called Virginia Beach, and I would not have it any other way. I’ve been leading a fast-paced life since I last posted, just days after graduating from college. I now work for Live Nation, the largest concert promoter in the world, where I handle sponsorships accounts.

Upon moving to the beach, my goal was to continue organizing and promoting parties that focused on art, fashion, and music. I was fortunate enough to meet a talented artist who shared my vision. We complemented each other very well because of our diverse backgrounds. My event planning experiences coupled with his artist network seemed like a great fit.

I took my concept that I created in college, which was a traveling fashion and art show targeted at the college demographics and transformed it with my partner’s help into Blend. In the last few months we successfully pulled off two parties operating under the name “Blend.” We chose the name Blend, because we effectively brought together the artist community, DJs to spin at our parties, and fashion designers. The main objective of Blend is to plan art and fashion shows featuring local artists and clothing company in the night club setting.

Our parties were featured in numerous forms of media and soon became a prime-networking tool for people interested in the arts. Sponsors such as Red Bull, Frank 151 magazine, and international clothing company, Shmack started to believe in the brand that has been created.

Unfortunately, Josh has decided to move on because of other commitments to his job. However, I’m already starting to plan the next party with other business people who believe in my vision. Blend parties truly brings out a diverse crowd and artists. Over the course of the last several months I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many passionate artists and fashion designers who are trying to make their mark. They stress time and time again how they just want people to see and appreciate their work. My hope is to have as many people as possible, or fish (to continue the metaphor) start to believe in the Blend concept. If I continue to be successful, just maybe, a ripple affect will be felt in art communities in other parts of the pond. I mean other cities, as I try to expand my Blend parties.
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Is Starving an Artistic Risk?

In Art, Cooking & Food, Emotional Intelligence, Fashion, Health & Wellness, Leadership, Music, Theater/Film, Writing on December 5, 2008 at 9:25 am

According to Wikipedia a starving artist is: someone who sacrifices material well-being in order to focus on their artwork. Typically living on minimum expenses, either for a lack of business or because all their disposable income goes towards art projects. Some starving artists desire mainstream success but have difficulty due to the high barriers in art such as visual arts, the film industry, and theatre. These artists frequently take temporary positions (such as waitering or other service industry jobs) while they focus their attention on breaking through in their preferred field.

According to Merriam-Webster, risk is defined as: the possibility of loss or injury : peril

If we financially place ourselves in low paying or dead end jobs are we expanding or limiting our artistic potential?

If you can’t pay your rent, and your big artistic break isn’t showing up at what point exactly are your choices in life diminishing? Is it when it comes down to leaving the profession you chose because you simply can’t pay your bills?

Or is it when your disregard for your mental, physical and economic health erodes your happiness and self-confidence?

Or is it when many of your life goals have a serious life sucks “gap” between what you hoped to accomplish and what you actually can accomplish?

Or maybe its when you feel like your creativity and imagination are almost all gone because you cannot endure the difficulty of a life that does not inspire your evolution and creative abilities?

Is it worth your time to consider if there is another path, one that only you can imagine, that can fill your artistic potential and provide you with a host of economic options?

How much value exactly do you place on nurturing, protecting and supporting a life filled with your own creativity?

…and what do you think?

In Creative Support, Emotional Intelligence, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Leadership, Marketing, Money, Music, Risk, Writing on December 2, 2008 at 12:41 am

This last week or so I have been hiding. Under the festivities of the holiday. Under the weight of my thoughts. Behind the screen of my computer– uncertain of what to do next.

I am again at a turning point on the journey with my book-or is it now books? And again, I feel a bit lost at sea and uncertain as to what is the best thing to do next. (Oh the joys of being a sensitive, intuitive entrepreneur in the arts. At times all this intuition I have can leave me feeling a bit like I am short circuiting.)

My book, Build a Blue Bike has not sold. The economy is in the tanks (in case you had not noticed) and publishers are merging, folding and buying only those books that seem like sure-fire slam-dunks. After all, Build a Blue Bike is a book that is an entreprenuerial risk. The artist as entrepreneur? Huh? Do artists even care about how to evolve into this blend of artist and entrepreneur?

So one of the strategies I created to help demonstrate the value of this book and its worthiness was to build The Entrepreneurial Artists Resource Guide as proof that there are a lot of people, programs, products and interest in this seemingly esoteric topic. The guide offers great information and also proves to publishers that there are a growing number of artists out there marketing to other artists on how to become more entrepreneurial, quite successfully.

So the issue now lies in the long journey I have been on with my agent Susan Schulman. Agents sell books to publishers. That is their job. Susan has told me that she sells everything she takes- eventually. It has been a year, almost to the day and we have had lots of positive rejections from big houses- but only ten in total. (A positive rejection means that the editors who buy books for these publishing houses thought the material was worthy, interesting and valuable but that it was not a fit for them in the end.) Other agents who I have queried about my situation have told me that “it can be 30 or 40 responses before a book gets sold, so toughen up!”

The latest thought is to combine Build a Blue Bike with The Entrepreneurial Artists Resource Guide, which Susan thinks will sell. To do this means re-writing a very lengthy book proposal to resend to publishers. Of course there is always the option to simply self publish. There are some incredibly successful self published authors. A couple I personally know are Peggy McColl and Bob Baker.

As a true entrepreneur part of me says to hell with waiting around for a publisher to recognize the value of my material– if an agent like Susan Schulman did, that is proof enough and I should just move along and self publish. And another part of me says, I need the credibility of a named publisher, if I can get it, to help me shape the future of the arts in universities and corporations. Certainly part of the problem has been the economy in getting my material sold.

What do you think? Should I wait and see if I can get it picked up by a big publisher under this new format? Or should I go ahead and self publish? Sometimes publishers come back to you after you self- publish and ask to publish the book. Tama Kieves book, This Time I Dance, was picked up by Tarcher/Penguin-Putnam in exactly this way.

Entrepreneurship and artistry are a complicated blend of business like actions, intuition and creativity. Intuition is the lever that brings both together and at the moment mine feels a bit overloaded with too much information.