An MBA for Creatively-Slanted Folk?

{image via Jullien Gordon}

I managed to miss the original post on Etsy a week ago, but just learned of this story via the Conference of Creative Entrepreneurs (CCE).  It would appear that the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is working on a degree program for a Master of Professional Studies in the Business of Art and Design, with an estimated launch date of summer 2011.  According to David Gracyalny, a dean at MICA, this will be "a comprehensive education in business management specifically for artists, designers, and other creative professionals."  Muy intrigado, indeed.

What Does It Take to Get a Master's in the Business of Art?

As of now, most artists and crafters out there do not have the pre-disposed arsenal of knowledge that is necessary for running a business in today's hot arenas like Etsy, 1000 Markets, ArtFire, good ol' craft shows, and art galleries. True, there are plenty of ways to find this information on ye olde interwebz.  The problem is that it can be a bit of a time-consuming, piecemeal project trying to gather it all, one that can leave you feeling like you're drowning in a big pot of crap stew.  I certainly am among those who have spent many an hour or three pouring over art & craft forums, websites, books, and simple word-of-mouth discussions on how, exactly, you are supposed to make a living at this, all while keeping your ducks in a row for the IRS shooting gallery. Not only are taxes a concern, but also marketing, advertising, supply chains, price structure, wholesaling, consignment…  Those not directly involved would be surprised to know just how much goes into setting up shop, even without the proverbial brick-and-mortar concerns. Luckily, the art & craft world is full of generous folk who are willing to help a sistah out, so it's not a completely head-banging-on-a-wall experience.  Wonderfully organized conferences like the CCE are informational pots of gold for us, as well (one which I really, really, really hope I can attend…).

Based on the comments at the end of the article, this idea would seem to have been a no-brainer for university art programs in the past, but was apparently a taboo topic.  Those that did get formal art training were taught the skills, but not how to keep the "starving" part out of the artist moniker.  Without knowing all the details, this seems like a fantastic development.  However, even though it does mention a bit about online instruction, it also throws in a bit about residencies at MICA.  Instant downer.  I would sincerely hope that it could become the type of MBA that might be available as a full online degree program, as many traditional MBAs seem to be these days.  There are so, so, so many people out there now who are in this business that would benefit, myself included, that it would be a shame that it might not be available to them.  There is also mention of "short-term programming" that is being forged, which would be available via the Etsy website.  I'm interested to know how the two will differ, and what might skew one to prefer (and, of course, pay for) a full-blown degree… especially in the current climate that finds many well-decorated graduates unemployed, with student loans out the ying-yang.  MICA currently offers a Certificate in Creative Entrepreneurship, too, which sounds a lot like the proposed Masters program.  Perhaps it will evolve into the latter.  I'll be keeping my eyeballs and ear holes open for more news on the program, for sure.

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Categories: the art school

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