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Artist Case Studies: Business Models

FIELD/WORK Core Curriculum
Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - 6:00pm to 8:30pm

Four mid-career artists will reflect on the past 10 years of their careers and share how they’ve developed a business model to support their creative practices, values, and goals over time.

In a series of short artist talks, each artist will share the key decisions, relationships, opportunities, administrative infrastructure, funding, and lifestyle choices that form the strategy that has empowered them to thrive with a life in the arts. These talks will include discussion of:

  • Operating a freelance studio
  • Working with clients
  • Creating work across varied contexts and scales
  • Grant funding and residencies
  • Business entity selection and building administrative capacity

In a moderated discussion, we will introduce a tool called the Business Model Canvas and ways that the framework can be adapted to meet the needs of artists’ creative careers. Developing a scalable business model is critical to making progress toward professional goals and the guest artists will demonstrate ways that the Canvas can be utilized for visualizing a business model to support artists’ goals and lives.

This workshop is part of the FIELD/WORK Core Curriculum, a series of FIELD/WORK Residency sessions that are open to the public. CAC welcomes you to join us at 5:30pm for social time with refreshments, with the program beginning promptly at 6:00pm

Learning Objectives
  • Better understand how to build a business model that can support your values, creative practice, and lifestyle
  • Discuss the importance of balancing long-term thinking with in-the-moment improvisation in developing a career and life in the arts
  • Explore ways that the Business Model Canvas and similar tools can be used to identify professional assets and potential growth areas that can illuminate paths to progress toward achieving your goals
Guest Speakers 

Sonnenzimmer is the collective work of artists Nick Butcher and Nadine Nakanishi. Their collaborative practice was established in 2006 in Chicago, Illinois. Initially recognized for their idiosyncratic commissioned screen-printed posters, their practice has since morphed into an interdisciplinary toolshed spanning multiple platforms, including exhibitions, publishing, performance, graphic design, and exhibition design. Equal parts balancing act between art and design and radical reclamation of all aspects of visual expression, the studio is grounded in the lasting potential of the graphic arts, while exploring the physical and conceptual friction between abstraction and communication. Their work has been exhibited in the United States, China, and Europe with recent exhibitions at the Arts Club of Chicago, Vebikus Kunsthalle Schaffhausen (Switzerland), and Texas State University. They have been commissioned by various clients including U.S. Soccer Federation, Morningstar, Intelligentsia Coffee, China Eastern Airlines, Veto Records, and Sub Pop Records and they lead lectures and workshops in academic and commercial settings, including recent visits to California Institute for the Arts, Columbia College Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, Pratt Institute, Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Edra Soto (b. Puerto Rico) is a Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist, educator, curator, and co-director of the outdoor project space THE FRANKLIN.

She is invested in creating and providing visual and educational models propelled by empathy and generosity. Her recent projects are motivated by civic and social actions focus on fostering relationships with a wide range of communities.

Recent venues presenting Soto’s work include the Pérez Art Museum Miami (FL), Hunter East Harlem Gallery (NY), UIC Gallery 400 (IL), Bemis Center for Contemporary Art (NE), and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago (IL) amongst others. Soto has attended residency programs at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (ME), Beta-Local (PR), the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Residency (FL), Arts/Industry at the Kohler Foundation (WI), Headlands Center for the Arts (CA) and Project Row Houses (TX) amongst others. In 2017 Soto was awarded the Efroymson Contemporary Arts for installation artists. Her co-curation for the exhibition Present Standard at the Chicago Cultural Center was praised with overwhelmingly positive reviews from the Chicago Tribune, Newcity, PBS The Art Assignment and Artforum. Soto was recently featured in Newcity’s annual Art 50 issue Chicago’s Artists’ Artists and at VAM Studio 2017 Influencers.

Soto is a lecturer for the Contemporary Practices Department at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, from where she holds an MFA , and a BFA degree from Escuela de Artes Plastics de Puerto Rico.

Norman Teague is a Chicago-based designer and educator whose practice focuses on using design as an agent for change and as a mechanism to empower black and brown communities.

In 2012, Teague worked with Theaster Gates on "12 Ballads for Huguenot House", dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, Germany. He exhibited in Milan at gallery Spazio Rossana Orlandi in 2015, and shortly thereafter was featured in BlkHaUS, his first solo exhibition at Blanc Gallery in Bronzeville. In February 2017, Teague participated in “Wall of Respect: Vestiges, Shards and Legacy of Black Power” at the Chicago Cultural Center.  This exhibition chronicled the legacy of a seminal mural developed for and within Chicago’s Black South Side communities located at 43rd Street and Langley Avenue, and unveiled to critical acclaim in 1967.

Along with Fo Wilson, Norman Teague is a partner in BlkHaUS studio, L3C. The team blends contemporary aesthetics with locally-sourced materials to create furniture, objects, and spaces that transform common typologies into original works representative of twenty-first century design. Sounding Bronzeville, a current commission by the Wildlife Corridor, the Field Museum, and the Chicago Park District, is a public arts project that teams Teague and Wilson with designer Chris Buchakjian.

Teague was recently named as a creative collaborator on the exhibitions team for the Barack  Obama Presidential Library with design lead, Ralph Appelbaum and Associates. Past projects also include partnerships with Leaders1354, The Silver Room, The Exchange Café, Chicago Architecture Foundation, and The Art Institute of Chicago. 

Moderated by Kate SchuttaKate is Director of Career and Professional Experience at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). She is committed to helping artists and designers develop the self-knowledge, experience, skills, and confidence to develop a career path that is creatively satisfying.  Kate is a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, Strong Interest Inventory Administrator and an artist. Her experience includes teaching at SAIC and as a Research Fellow at the Royal College of Art. She has exhibited in the U.S. and abroad and has won many grants and fellowships. She earned her MFA from SAIC, and her BA in History of Art from Bryn Mawr College.

Chicago Artists Coalition
2130 W. Fulton Street (look for our dedicated entrance at 2132 W. Fulton Street!)
Chicago, IL



$20 General Public | $10 CAC Artist Members | FREE for BOLT, FIELD/WORK, HATCH, and LAUNCH Residents

Online registration for this program is now closed. Registration is available at the door prior to the event!