Art Student/Entrepreneur

Thania Gutierrez, a graphic and web design student at Art Institute of California-San Diego, is part of a growing number of young designers seeking business skills in addition to the traditional “creative” education. Like so many other young designers she has an interest in or is planning to go indie. By that I mean, when these students graduate from college, they are opting to work for themselves, either in side jobs or as small independent business owners. Lean start-up is the buzz word for emerging grads today. More and more “creative or art” colleges are offering courses to enhance business savvy.

A growing number of young designers seeking business skills in addition to the traditional “creative” education.

In this interview I answer her questions about what it takes to be a creative entrepreneur.

Creative entrepreneurs need five things in my opinion,

  • A burning desire
  • A willingness to continue to learn technology and adapt to change
  • Business savvy
  • Design thinking/Problem solving skills
  • Amazing personality or soft skills

Students are requesting classes that teach business skills. They realize that there is a lot to learn like. Like how to start a business, how much to charge clients, how much money will they need to run a profitable business, how to work with independent contractors, what is licensing, what is fair use, how do they protect their assets and intellectual property, what is creative commons, and copyright law to name a just few of the areas that have great impact on their success.

With the assistance of Corey J. Willis, Academic Director of the School of Design, AICA-SD, I was given the opportunity to develop a two-part class in creative entrepreneurship that fit into the schools new curriculum called Design Team – Pre Production and Design Team – Production.

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Developing Creative Entrepreneurs – a new design school model

Since I started my career as an independent designer in New York in 1998 I have focused my efforts as a design professional in the ever evolving technological economy to working on creative teams. You can read more about me on my profile page. The point is it is impossible to master all the skills needed to meet clients needs in a world on online branding through multiple media channels.

In addition students need to have business skills

Here is a picture of some of my students from Design Team 1, a class I teach at the Art Institute of California – San Diego. I will be posting some recent work from this class soon.picture of lindsey baker's class


Last fall the folks at Etsy gave a talk at the Rhode Island School of Design about the realities of starting a creative business. Art school students are starving for this information, and RISD is one of the institutions starting to feed that hunger. The RISD Mindshare, the event I participated in, was part TED-esque inspiration, part no-nonsense practical advice. You can watch videos of the talks at the Mindshare website.

Vanessa Bertozzi from RISD Entrepreneur Mindshare on Vimeo.