From Artist to Entrepreneur

IMAGES Festival Program Offers New Talent Path to Success

When most people think about entrepreneurs, they think about Michael Dell launching his computer company from his dorm room or Jeff Bezos coming up with the idea of the online bookstore that would become Amazon.

But the entrepreneurial spirit isn’t just about high-tech moguls and cutting-edge technologies. It’s about creating something new and as such, artists are just as much entrepreneurs as Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg.

For aspiring artists in the Greater Daytona Region, IMAGES: A Festival of the Arts offers an opportunity to learn about the professional side of creativity with its new Trish Thompson Memorial Emerging Artists Program. The program honors Trish Thompson, a local artist involved with the festival, the Atlantic Center for the Arts and the college, who passed away in 2021.

The program was a new offering at the IMAGES festival, which celebrated its 46th annual show in New Smyrna Beach this year.

“We have talked about it for years, but this is our first year doing it,” said Nance Casey Koch, IMAGES coordinator. “We wanted to do something a little different this year.”

Koch said the juried art festival created the Emerging Artists Program for people just getting into the arts and found a willing partner in the effort with Daytona State College.

“We wanted to do something this year, so we decided to partner with Daytona State,” she said.

Koch said 23 DSC students applied for the program, a number that far exceeded expectations.

“We were blown away by it,” Koch said. “We never expected to get that many.”

As part of the festival, the student artists will have a tent with tables and chairs to set up their displays and will receive $250 to get whatever they need to put the booth together.

Koch said part of the reason for the Emerging Artists Program is to introduce new artists to the entrepreneurial side of being a creative.

“It’s not an easy life,” she said. “A lot of artists show in galleries and of course they all have their websites. It really is an entrepreneurial thing.”

As part of the experience, the emerging artists selected for the program participated in a virtual meeting with veteran artists who shared their insights about being in art shows, setting up display booths, pricing information and other aspects on the business side of being an artist.

Ceramic artist and Daytona State student Janet Montville said she was surprised to be selected as one of the emerging artists but is excited to be participating.

“I would say it is huge, just being able to step into that world,” she said. “I don’t have hopes of grandeur, but just being able to talk to artists who were in the show and know what they are doing and talking about is great. I am constantly learning so this is a huge step.”

Montville said gaining more experience and knowledge about the entrepreneurial side of art is a bonus on top of the opportunity to showcase her work. She said she is part of several Facebook pottery groups and the issue of pricing art comes up a lot.

“I started out pretty reasonable with pricing because for me, it was a way for me to pay for school and my supplies, but I did have to put a value on it,” she said. “Some people still look at ceramics as not really art; they see it as a utilitarian thing.”

Montville said she is also excited about learning more about being an artist by participating in the IMAGES festival.

“I feel like I’ve progressed in the last couple of years to be a little more professional,” she said.

For Daytona State student and painter Rich Malfitano, the Emerging Artists Program is a chance to extend his passion for art into something beyond just working on a canvas.

“I’m excited about it,” he said. And now the idea of not just creating art but earning money at it is a very real possibility.

“There’s always that possibility,” Malfitano said of becoming a professional artist. “That would be a bigger opportunity to help the organizations I am involved with and it would be nice to be able to sustain my art while I do it.”

Trent Berning, chair of the Mike Curb College of Music, Entertainment and Art and a professor of ceramics at Daytona State College, said being part of the new program offers students a chance to learn about the practical side of the life artistic and gain entrepreneurial experience.

“We want them to attend the symposiums with artists and learn about how to price your work, how to apply for shows,” Berning said. “Things that students wouldn’t necessarily have experience with.”

Berning said the art programs at Daytona State are primarily focused on defined learning outcomes and don’t generally get into the kind of practical skills students would learn in a full Bachelor of Fine Arts program or graduate school.

“The Emerging Artists Program is really filling a niche for our program,” he said. “I’m really excited about it and it’s really going to help with those professional skills.”