. . . and lives a happier and more fulfilling new life.
A couple weeks ago I attended the The Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts in Tampa with my buddy, fellow motivational speaker Tami Evans. Showcasing over 300 talented artists, the event transforms a downtown Tampa park into an amazing outdoor museum.
I really enjoy attending festivals where creatives not only get to show their work, but where capitalism is alive and well and the masters of this talent earn money too. And when I discover a new artist, buy a piece of their work and there is a story of a newly born entrepreneur, that’s a bonus!
Meet Jason Brueck who only a week before turned in his resignation after 12 years as a corporate lawyer. He is now free to be the boss, as a full time artist.
Jason’s work caught my eye. His artistic style used dramatic black and white photographs and then a mix of color and graphical digital effects. The result was a real and surreal visual story, leaving the final interpretation up to the viewer.
In the piece I bought, which he calls Birds of a Feather, I saw a symbol of how I feel just about every day as entrepreneur. Balancing life, work, relationships with my independent and creative-souled values. At the same time, I related to the young woman confidently walking on a tight rope, feeling liberated to conquer yet facing the reality of the uncertainty and the risks that come with being self employed. And the soaring birds, while beautiful they can also poop on your head and ruin your perfectly coiffed hair in a minute.
I loved the piece. It spoke to me. I bought it.
As I’m about to pay for my new art, I quizzed Jason about the nicked up black frame that encapsulated the work. I was also curious about his journey as an artist. Turns out Jason originally from Ft. Myers, FL had spent the last dozen years in a suit and tie defending pharmaceutical companies.
So how did this corporate lawyer get the call from entrepreneurial voices and take the plunge?
For Jason it happened 4 years ago when he moved into a new house. He wanted something fun to hang on his walls, but found himself in that middle market with few options. Wanting something interesting, more than a mass-produced $40 print from IKEA, but he couldn’t afford to spend a ton on his artwork.
Ultimately he ended up hiring a digital artist to create three images for $600. After a good bit of collaboration and a lot of time, Jason was disappointed with the end result. His ideas got seriously lost in translation. So he decided to buy the software and teach himself, knowing this was the only way his ideas would manifest in the way he wanted. That year an artist emerged.
Toying with the idea of a career change in the summer of 2013 while participating in some pretty big art shows, Jason realized that being an artist could be a sustainable vocation. At the end of a big weekend, he crunched the numbers and realized if he could devote himself full time to being an artist, not only would he be happier but potentially better off financially as well. Plus, the fact he couldn’t stand his job, or his boss, didn’t hurt either.
The nicked black frame, well that was part of his new journey and the business law of: “Shit happens”. On the way from Philly to Tampa, Jason had loaded up his truck, packed with framed artwork. As he headed south, he suddenly heard a load noise and pulled over. Unfortunately, the shelving safeguarding his artwork broke and all the art hit the truck floor damaging many pieces, including the one I was buying. But as another law of entrepreneurialism shows its face, “What does not kill you, makes you stronger”.
Hearing Jason’s story was exciting. Another smart, courageous person enters the small business nation and joins the forces of millions of others who are willing to risk the imaginary safety blanket of a corporate career to follow their dream and control their destiny.
When I met Jason, I promised him some advice on being an entrepreneur and concerning his new website that he had just launched.
3 pieces of entrepreneurship advice:
1) There will be bumps along the way.
Your shelf breaking in your truck will likely be one of the smaller challenges you will face. When you hit a bump, learn from it quickly, don’t make the mistake again and return to focusing on your goals.
2) The term starving artist came about because a group of creative people didn’t make good business decisions and blamed others.
Selling art is a business. Finances, branding and operations are all important functions and critical disciplines that need to be managed everyday. You are driving the truck, so drive it wisely. Invite other smart people to help you and have fun.
3) Work from a plan. Or plan to fail.
Start with the end in mind by writing out your 12 month and 24 month goals. Schedule your days. What gets scheduled gets done. Write short-term goals every month. Share them with a trusted person, so you will be accountable.
4 pieces of branding advice for Jason:
1) Your Website (http://alterimages.net/).
Good start. As a visitor, I want to learn more about you. I’d add more copy about your story, what’s important to you and details on your pieces. They should all have stories. I like how you use lower case letters on the header. I would make that part of your graphic style and lose the upper case letter on your website titles. I also want to know about the limited editions on the large prints, so you can start marketing the higher priced items on your site.
2) Your blog.
You are in a visual field. Your brand needs to be visual. When you blog, add photos. Use your name and company in your posts. Search engines like this and over the long haul it will be easier to find you on line.
3) Your social media.
Make it easier for people to get social with you. Add social icons next to your prints. Move your social icons up on your site from the bottom, so people connect right away.
Your phone number is hard to read on your business cards. Consider adding video to your site too. Re-post your blogs, either manually or with an auto feed, to Facebook and Twitter. I’d add a section called “press”. You should have your press kit there and once you start getting publicity via blogs or other news venues, you need to add the links. Add your bio, facts about your work, etc., and include the photo you want used when you get covered.
You’ve got talent. Now you’ve got time.
Make it happen!