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  • Writer's pictureBaker Institute Team

"Every artist is, and was, an entrepreneur. "

Travis Martinez '21 | Arts Entrepreneurship Major | IDEAS: Mechanical Engineering and Theatre Design Hometown | Brodheadsville, PA

Entrepreneur (noun): one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise. - Merriam-Webster

Business. Corporations. Offices. Meetings. Powerpoints. That is the life I thought of when I heard “entrepreneur.” Reserved for those starting a company, creating new products and wanting to be CEOs; I never thought that I was, nevertheless could I call myself, an entrepreneur. I want to make art and be a designer, not “start a business” in the conventional sense. The possibility is that I may not even join an established business after leaving Lehigh, instead becoming a freelancer. So how could I be an entrepreneur when my path in life seemed to stray so far from the business world I felt I had no part in?

What I have come to realize with my time at LehighSiliconValley is that every artist is, and was, an entrepreneur. And that includes myself. Because when you walk out the doors of education and fall face first into the “real world,” the skills needed to survive are those grounded in the entrepreneurial mindset. Marketing. Communicating. Selling. A passion for your work. A belief in yourself. A sense of leadership. The knowledge of when to keep pushing ahead or when to change course. And the deeply rooted belief that the work you are doing is, above all, worth it. An artist, just as an entrepreneur, knows all of this well.

As an artist, my life is my business, I am my own CEO, and I need to know how to run my company before I drive it into the ground. I must know how to market my work, my skills, and my worth to others. Show my value to a potential buyer or team. Communicate the change I am making in the world, and the beliefs I hold about the art I create. I must go out into life with a passion for creation, and what else does an entrepreneur know best than creating something from nothing? I am organizing, managing, and assuming every risk of my life and of creating my art. So why shouldn’t I believe I am an entrepreneur?

Well, like all artists, sometimes I am wrong. Sometimes the work I create isn’t as well received as I hoped. Sometimes the painting technique I try doesn’t come out as beautifully as I wanted. Sometimes I do not realize that the go-getting mindset, organizational and communicative skills, and passion you must have as an artist parallels that of an entrepreneur. And sometimes I am wrong about who I am. Because I see now, as I go out into the world to create, that I am an entrepreneur.

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