BLOG*April 20, 2010

Laguna College of Art and Design feels like family. I have been teaching concept and art courses there on and off for two decades now. I watched the school grow and evolve from year to year to become an intimate powerhouse of knowledge and new media. Laguna Beach in general is a thriving outlet of creativity, home to the Pageant of the Masters, Festival of the Arts, and the Sawdust Art Festival.

When I approached Michael Savas, Dean of Communication Arts about bringing Artist As Brand™ to the college he welcomed me with open arms. Its that family thing again.
Michael is a real forward thinker about the future of art commerce. We have a similar mind set when it comes to the issue of artist empowerment and sustainability. By lecturing extensively over the years around the US and abroad I have been able to keep my fingers on the pulse of how Academia is providing not only art training but also life/business skills for their students so they can understand how to make a living from their talent.

I am asking teachers, academics, artists about creative empowerment and art success and what it means to them. My recent Blog with Douglas Rushkoff energized some insightful commentary. Michael gives a stab at these issues too.

Greg Spalenka: How do you define artist empowerment?

Michael Savas: In a philosophical sense, by staying true to ones creative integrity. In terms of the business of art, by having the same professional rights as do other creative professions. For year’s artist, illustrators in particular, have been hurt by unfair business practices. Actors and musicians have long had organizations to ensure proper pay and fair contracts. Musicians have The American Society of Composers, Authors and publishers (ASCAP) that protect intellectual property rights and to collect royalties, actors have the Actors Guild. While some progress for artists and illustrators have been made with organizations like the Illustrators Partnership of America (IPA) the profession and business of art still has a long way to go.

GS: Yes, it seems that artists are still catching up in terms creating community. It is getting better.
LCAD focuses on teaching conceptual and technical image making skill sets with an eye on preparing artists for the publishing, gallery, and entertainment industries. What could be some alternatives to these corporate models?

MS: We do a great job at preparing our students to function as good visual communicators and we take great pride in not favoring any particular business model for those are always in flux. Our graduates acquire work in every creative area imaginable including their own start-up companies, online venues, corporations etc.

GS: How would you describe artist sustainability?

MS: Having an ability to adapt to the needs of an ever-changing creative environment while maintaining integrity in all that you do.

GS: But does LCAD prepare the student to handle fluctuating economic factors in the professional world?

MS: Our approach is to instill sound technical and creative core skills and the ability to visually problem solve. Those who do these things well will always be in demand and succeed in any economic situation.

GS: A strong personal vision is always a good foundation. As a freelancer you are relying on yourself and motivation to keep your business going. When you make your own way your fingers are always on the pulse of possibility.

MS: I believe some of our strongest attributes are our various academic program curriculums that we monitor regularly as well as our professional faculty for they are paramount in educating future artists and designers. I feel Artist As Brand is a very good supplement to our professional studies curriculum. It helps students find their artistic strengths, creative passions and to explore the many options in marketing and promoting their talents.

Well said Michael! Thank you for those insights on LCAD.
Michael left me with this word of advice for all students,  “Stay true to your artistic integrity no matter what creative path you take!”

Professionals too!

I am presenting an Artist As Brand workshop at LCAD May 28, 29, 30, Friday-Sunday 10AM- 8PM
Sign Up with Kerri Redeker- 949-376-6000 ext. 240
See you there!