Tuesday, March 7, 2017
First of all any Entrepreneur knows it's tough to be on your own. Any good one knows it's well worth it! The challenge is probably why they take it on in the first place or the fact that they can't allow themselves to follow direct paths like 95% of the world. But after 18 years of being an Entrepreneur I realized I'm part of an even smaller group one that I'm not sure exist in the way I did it. (Which is exactly what you need to stand out yet is the most daring and risk taking)
Allow me to explain, so 5% of the population is an Entrepreneur (this is ball park in USA/Canada) Most of those I'm going to say 90% (ballpark figure) have a business that has a direct path already carved out for them. Such as someone who owns a franchise or sell in real estate. Maybe they have an amazon business or a multitude of things that are not essentially easy by any measure but there is a blueprint to follow a map to view how it's done.
Now I'm not writing this article to say "I'm special" Not at all. I just am astonished that I found myself in a position that I realized 18 years in it that I basically made up. I'm calling it S.E.E.A. pronounced "see-a" . S.E.E.A. is a Self Employed Entrepreneur Artist. Not to be confused with your standard artist. A fully business oriented kind. From writing up contracts with major companies. Hiring agents for future business. Partnering with established companies and investors on new IP. To licensing apparel, toys, apps, jewelry, and so on.
CARVE A PATH, your own path and you'll find at first it may be tough to dig out your way. Carve it uniquely and watch others start to take your path. My path started in selling my work at my own shop and online. back in 1999 I had a strange store called "Monsters of Bulging elbows" It was like a D.I.Y. hot topic before I knew what Hot Topic was. it had anything and everything I enjoyed in it. Among comics,zines,t-shirts,punk cds, records,magic tricks, old action figures and much more I had my own original artwork hanging on the walls. My Art only sold to a 9 year old kid for a few dollars a pop. He was my real first "Collector" I soon realized I got a better feeling from selling something I made up than drawing other peoples characters or selling stuff you may find elsewhere (if you really look haha) So I decided to close shop and only place my art online so that I could have more time to create and less time sitting in a shop I owned.
For a few years I never really left my house, I never showed my art publicly. But I had this feeling eBay and the internet wouldn't remain the best place for me to sell. So I decided to look for places to go that I could represent my work and meet my collectors face to face. I enjoyed this even more because I got to saw the joy people had from buying my work. I also decided to do more than just be an artist that sold original art.
I took the idea of my old shop having all kinds of things I loved and wanted to not sell others IP and ideas but create my own. I started with comics which was one of my true loves as a kid. I went from self publishing mini comics and things to getting published by others I had 3 different publishers making my comic books and as much as I enjoyed it, comics weren't paying me nearly what I could make off selling one original painting. After doing more gallery shows, mostly the kind I shipped my work off and waited for a check I had gotten a lucky break where a Japanese Fashion designer that went by N. Hoolywood aka Mr. Hollywood purchased an original of mine from a San Fransisco gallery and then asked if he could pay me a licensing fee to put it on t-shirts. This sounded like the easiest/coolest money. He already bought my art and now he wants to pay me more to put it on t-shirts sold in a Japanese fashion magazine. Menemoto I believe it was called ( I should google this) This was my first licensing deal. I loved the concept and used it as leverage to make future business deals. My next shop selling item I loved was toys, and after hard work and finding the right company I was licensing my characters that I sculpted into plastic and plush toys which even included mini comics about the characters.
The rest is history so to speak, as I don't want to write a book here. I sit here now 18 years in the game. Just 2 days ago my wife and I put on our first convention called Art Max Expo. Giving others a chance to be their own S.E.E.A to start somewhere and grow. to carve their own path and take a dive in the toughest business there is the 1% of the 5% the modern day rebel. The risk taker who bets on themselves rather than something that already worked. So if you run a business that has a backbone main ingredient consisting of Creative Energy and if you don't think up something new today your business will likely die tomorrow.... Then you're a S.E.E.A. and I shake your hand and smile to see you toughing it out here with me. To all of you Entrepreneurs and those who are going to decide to be "Think forward and Shine on" because now already happened and tomorrow may you shine in the light of positive creative energy! ---- Gus Fink