Category: Ignite

Art Takes Guts

I cannot remember where I heard it. But I think about it all the time. I think about it when I want to drag my feet getting to work. I think about it when thoughts of procrastinating sink in to my tired brain. I think about it when working on the weekend to meet a deadline. I think about it whenever I have a “brilliant” idea but no action or plan to back it up.

No business ever failed for lack of good ideas.

The human brain requires energy. It requires a complex system of organs working together to fuel those thoughts. The guts fuel the brain.

I know it is a weird analogy but I like to think of our strategic plan as the “guts” behind our mission. It takes guts. It takes guts to be a freelance artist, and it takes guts to be an entrepreneur.

It takes guts to be an artist

Over the years, I have heard this sentiment: “Me? I’m doing fine. I’m working regularly. I don’t need a plan.”

Mustering up the energy to create is no easy feat. I will agree with that. However, we need more than ideas to earn a living from our creative minds. A business plan is not some gimmick–it is road map to fulfillment. It is a way to reach your goals. All of them. A good plan includes business goals that align with your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

There is never a right time. The right time is now, no matter where you are in your career.

I teach business planning for arts. Because I do, I do my best to practice what I preach. Every year, our team makes time to plan. Actually, we make time to plan every week. We do this because not because we are robots, or brilliant minds that have figured out a magic formula for success. We do this because we know our limitations. We know that we face distractions. We do this because it is a core value of our organization to mirror the behaviors what we teach others.

I wanted so badly to bring to Atlanta a place for artists to come together to help support their goals. That is why we offer Ignite. I wanted to help connect artists to resources that I did not have access to when I was working as an actor. I feel in love with this work because I want artists in Atlanta to thrive–not just get by.


This last year, C4 redesigned several classes to keep up with the needs of artists in our community. It is our commitment to you to provide a high quality educational experience. It is our devotion to our mission. These days, there a more resources for learning the business side of the arts. Great! More access points for learning is a good thing. But I want to make the case for you to join us for Ignite this season. Here are some things that make C4 classes unique: 

  1. This is what we do! We are not riding a trend or chasing grant dollars. There is little glory in being an arts organization that does not produce or present, but we love our jobs. We hire artists who love teaching. Our team has years and years of experience in curriculum design. Which means that we will never promise you riches simply by taking on of our classes; however, we DO promise you learning objectives, trained facilitators, a variety of teaching styles for different styles of learners, and more. In other words, we are not just content experts or teaching based on our own experience–we are trained educators for adult learning.
  2. Entrepreneurship is for everyone. I love entrepreneurship as a female. I have had ideas shot down because of my gender. It is a fact. Often women and people of color get shut out of traditional modes of industry and the arts are no exception. I see artists who identify as female and artists of color doing amazing, innovative work in Atlanta. Their hill is extra steep. Despite the challenge, women and people of color are embracing the role of entrepreneur, and they are making a difference. But this isn’t just my casual observation. A recent article by Forbes pointed out that more and more millennials and people of color are becoming entrepreneurs.
  3. Connections. C4 classes connect people to people. I think the greatest value C4 classes offer is the opportunity for artists to come together from different backgrounds and disciplines, to learn from one another, to support one another, and to build a community of people who create. It is such a gift to experience. Many of the artists who have gone through our programs have meet new artists to collaborate with on projects that have received local and/or national recognition.

The time is now

There will never be the right conditions to start. You don’t need to be at the beginning of your career or in crisis. The time is now. Join us for our next round of Ignite.

Future of Art in Atlanta – Ignite Grads

April 28th marked another round of Ignite graduations. Ignite is our 8-week entrepreneurship seminar for artists and creative professionals. Artists presented their business plans in front of a panel of experts.

Photo of Peter Cranton, Ignite
Peter Cranton presents his business plan.

We had several people missing from the day class graduation photo due to work, illness, etc. One of the artists had to leave early. The day class included: Doria Roberts, Hellenne Vermillion, Jill Pope, John Pruner, Peter Cranton, Paige-Nichette Dawkins, Shelly Siebert and Audrey Gamez. Congratulations! This class contains a lot of content and can feel, at times, overwhelming but artists come out of it empowered with a new outlook on their art practices.

photo of ignite day class
Ignite Day class


The Evening Ignite class included: Jessica Cook, Orian Crook, Cindy Brown, Manual, llaneras, Margarita Rios, Chavonna Rhodes and Lauren Pallotta. Congratulations!

Photo of Ignite Class
Ignite Evening Class


C4 would also like to give a special shot-out to Urban Cannibals and Doria Roberts for providing lunch for the Ignite graduation. The sandwiches were fresh and tasty. The scones–amazing. Urban Cannibals also donated coffee and chips. Thank you for supporting Atlanta’s arts community!

Urban Cannibals Sandwiches
Jealous? Great food.

Press Release: Atlanta Artists to Receive Greater Access to Entrepreneurship Training

Today we’re excited to announce new grant funding from the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, through their Marketplace Empowerment for Artists program. This morning we sent out a press release to make the announcement:

ATLANTA, GA, October 15, 2013 – Atlanta-based non-profit arts service organization, C4 Atlanta Inc, announces the receipt of a two-year, $50,000 grant from the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation to support Ignite, a program to promote professional arts practice in Atlanta. The grant is provided as part of the Tremaine Foundation’s Marketplace Empowerment for Artists (MEA) program.

“This grant from the Tremaine Foundation is a significant affirmation of C4 Atlanta’s work and mission,” said Jessyca Holland, Executive Director of C4 Atlanta. “We are proud to now join an extraordinary group of universities and arts organizations that receive funding through the MEA program.”

Ignite is an eight-week training seminar that helps artists build sustainable businesses around their creative offerings. Funding from the Tremaine Foundation will help support C4 Atlanta cover the costs of curriculum development, training, facilitation, and marketing for Ignite.

C4 Atlanta will also begin offering, “Ignite Lite,” a brief training session to promote the importance of business planning in the arts. Colleges, Universities and local arts groups are encouraged to contact Deborah Sosower, Program Manager, at, to schedule a session.

About C4 Atlanta

C4 Atlanta Inc. is a non-profit arts service organization whose mission is to connect arts entrepreneurs to the people, skills and tools they need to build a successful artistic career in metro Atlanta. The organization was founded in July 2010 in response to a growing need for business services for Atlanta’s arts community. C4 Atlanta’s initial program offerings are geared toward creating a new foundation of sustainability for arts and culture in the Atlanta region.

About the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation

The Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation (EHTF) is a family foundation established in 1986 by Emily Hall Tremaine. Based in Connecticut, the Foundation seeks to promote innovative solutions to basic and enduring problems in the United States through grantmaking programs related to art, environment, and learning disabilities. In addition to annual grantmaking, the Foundation also hosts periodic convenings of non-profit organizations, government agencies and other stakeholders to facilitate collaboration among sectors to achieve common goals.

The Opportunity

Clawing for Creativity / Kerry Jackson
Clawing for Creativity / Kerry Jackson

There’s a revolution of sorts that’s been taking place for a long time now. Technology has affected artists of every discipline in so many ways. Let’s face it: the “traditional” ways of earning a living through the arts are breaking down. And by “traditional” I really only mean the 20th Century ways: galleries, non-profit theater and dance companies, etc. Don’t get me wrong: these institutions are not going away by any stretch of the imagination. But job openings in these institutions are far more competitive and pay far less than they have in the past.

These changes have come about thanks, in part, to technology. Artists of every skill level (including no skill level) today are far more empowered than ever to create art and sell it (or just show it off) without the “benefit” of institutional curation. For many highly skilled, professional artists competing among a sea of hundreds of colleagues at a time for a single position, you could very well say the sky is falling.

But there are far more opportunities available than there are jobs disappearing. The disappearing jobs may be coming about thanks in part to technology, but so are the opportunities. As an artist, you have something just as important as your talent. You also have the discipline that it took to develop that talent, and a creative process that is highly valued and sought-after.

The gallerists, the artistic directors, the conductors, and all those other gatekeepers just don’t have much room to care about beyond your final products and their bottom lines. Many do care, but they face a constant battle between the concerns of individual artists and those of the institutions. What you have to offer the world is far more than your final product. Take a moment to consider a few questions:

  • What is my creative offering? Is there a consistent theme to my art in terms of content? Or, is there a consistent creative process that I apply to many themes?
  • If I have a consistent theme in terms of my content, who does that theme appeal to? Is such a person likely to be found in a gallery, nonprofit theater, or other arts venue?
  • If I have a consistent process that I use, where else can that process be applied, other than creating my own art? Can I use that process to help a community or a business solve an important issue they are tackling?

These are not lightweight questions, obviously. For some artists, these questions can take years to figure out. The idea of entrepreneurship in the arts is to find the answers to those questions through execution. What ideas have you tried out along the way? What have you learned along the way?

Introducing ‘Tension’ Artists

C4 Atlanta’s first ever Ignite graduate show will kick off May 11, 2013. The opening reception/fundraiser Arts Fuel will be on May 11, 2013 from 7pm – 10pm. Tickets for Arts Fuel are on sale now.

Opening for 'Tension' is May 11, 2013
Opening for ‘Tension’ is May 11, 2013

We wanted to keep the theme of our first show, ‘Tension,’ germane to our mission. For this show, Atlanta artists explore the dual identities of “the artist” and the “business person.”

Many of us can relate to this struggle or tension. In our own lives, we balance work and life, children and relationships, and the pursuit of emotional well being while living in a results-driven world.

The work in ‘Tension’ will range in medium, price and technique. This is a great opportunity to collect from some of Atlanta’s most talented artists. More information about gallery hours to come, but if you want the opportunity to purchase first, please attend Arts Fuel, May 11th. Discounted tickets for arts professionals are available.

It is with great pleasure that I give you the list of Atlanta professional artists who’s work will be featured in ‘Tension:’

Yun Bai
LaMar Barber
Rose Barron
Stephanie Coulibaly
Kathy Rennell Forbes
Vanessa Huang
Machiko Ichihara
Kerry Jackson
Igor Korsunskiy
Beth Lilly
Katy Malone
Corrina Mensoff
Mia Merlin
Barbara Nesin
Stacie Rose
Cat Rogers
Maria Sarmiento
Nathan Sharratt
Catherine Shiel
Amber Singleton
Deborah Sosower
Karley Sullivan
Gina Thompson
Diana Toma
Lisa Tuttle

Featured Artist: Corey Bradberry

I had the opportunity to interview Corey Bradberry, the executive director of The Collective Project.   The Collective Project, Inc. is a theatre and performance group that creates original work for Atlanta, by Atlanta.  Read on to learn more about Corey and his exciting projects…

Katie Owerbach: Are you an Atlanta Native?

Corey Bradberry: I was born in Dallas, Texas, but I’ve lived in the metro area since I was in elementary school, so I consider myself a native as much as the next fellow.

KO: Describe your artwork?

CB:I work in the theatre as an actor, director, writer, singer, musician, producer, and more. I co-founded the Collective Project, a resident performance company at the Goat Farm in midtown. We produce exclusively original work that features Atlanta artists, be they writers, performers, or designers. I’ve been mostly involved with smaller black-box productions… I love the intimate feel smaller spaces lend to an audience.

KO: What are your current projects?

CB: I am currently performing with the Alliance Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol,” but I am also producing and directing some pieces for the Collective Project’s December show, “The Theory of Everything.” It features 19 original short pieces and each night, the audience votes on what pieces they will see and the show order is determined by number of votes. It’s a raucous ride and the result is a show custom-built for each audience, as the pieces range all across the theatrical gamut. It runs December 8-22 and we can’t wait to hear audience feedback!




KO: How can people learn more about your work?

CB: has all the information about the comings and goings of the Collective Project. We also have a Facebook and Twitter page.

KO: How do you see “the arts” helping Atlanta?

CB: Atlanta is in desperate need of having its voice heard. The arts have been truly blossoming the last few years and I hope that trend will continue. The arts allow an opportunity for the community to come together and share an experience. Effective art leaves people with a new perspective in mind and the more artists creating work in Atlanta, the further that conversation will go.

KO: Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?

CB:I hope to build upon the foundation we’ve established with the Collective Project in whatever form it takes. I am currently exploring more of the film and tv arena that Atlanta has recently discovered.

KO: Have you participated in any Ignite workshops? What did you enjoy most from these workshops?

CB: Yes, I participated in Ignite over the summer of 2012. It was a great opportunity to hear about what other arts entrepreneurs were working on and to have a continual sounding board for new ideas. I can’t recommend it highly enough!

Production photo from Theory of Everything


Thank you Corey!


Ignite Scholarships for 2013 – Due Dec 17th

Apply for Ignite Scholarships for 2013 – Due Dec 17th

Ignite Your Creative Career

Through donations from individuals and funding by the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs, C4 Atlanta is able to offer 20 artist FULL scholarships from January 2013 – June 2013 for Ignite. Scholarship recipients must be City of Atlanta residents or be affiliated with an arts business within the city of Atlanta.

Please complete the following application. Applicants will be selected by merit in addition to need. Incomplete applications will not be accepted. Applications are due December 17, 2012.

Information about class schedule, requirements, etc. can be found on the application.

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Featured Artist: Diana Toma

I had the privilege of interviewing Diana Toma, a local artist originally from Romania.  She recently received the honor of working on the US Open 2013 Theme Art Project.  Diana has participated in C4 Atlanta’s Ignite  workshops and has some exciting projects coming up.  Continue reading to learn more about the talented Diana Toma…

Congratulations on your recent accomplishment working with the US Open.  How do you think this accomplishment will shape your artwork in the future?

Collage of images by Diana Toma
Courtesy of Diana Toma

Thank you! I’ve connected right away with this project as soon as I got invited to create a proposal: I feel it fits like a snug glove. Working with the United States Tennis Association has been an enriching experience, I am ecstatic that they are interested in bringing the fine arts back into their art theme, after a long history of illustration type of themes. There’re six of us in the final run – if my artwork will be chosen to represent the US Open 2013 it will bring about terrific exposure: I read about 1 million people attend the tournament! It will be a dream come true for my work to reach such large community.

Furthermore, this experience challenged the way I create my compositions and brought about a new way of constructing the artwork. I get to draw and paint with traditional methods then scan them and manipulate them as layers in Photoshop. This is very exciting, I will definitely continue exploring this technique even after the US OPEN 2013 Theme Art project will come to an end.

2. Where can one learn more about the artwork you do?

You can see my current work at and my past work at I have also recently created a facebook page where you can get in a direct dialogue with me. I aim to post daily, wherever it’s my art, my thoughts, or artwork and articles that inspire me. Thou I am new at it, I am falling in love with this venue of communication that allows me to connect directly with the one who are moved by my art. Check me out at If you may, please like and share the page.

You have participated in Ignite workshops in the past.  How has this workshop enhanced your art career? What did you take away from the workshop?

It offered a great deal of info on running my art as a business, and offered quite a few samples of creative pathways to take. It basically widened my view on what is available out there and in the process left me with new ideas on how to expand myself. Being in a new conversation, reading material that I usually don’t, connecting with a diverse group of people – all these have got the internal wheels turning faster.

How do you feel your art work fits in to the Atlanta art scene?

I’ve been creating in different cities on different continents, in both Europe and in North America. Wherever place I chose to stay a while, it leaves an impression on my art, and living in Atlanta left its own unique mark. With that said, my art is all about moving and touching the viewer at an emotional level. In that way my art is of universal nature. I would say it fits wherever someone pays it attention, locally or not.

How do you see “the arts” helping Atlanta?

I think that wherever artists show up, the community changes, improve and develops. Likewise, part of my mission is to transform my environment through creating art. Can’t imagine a better life then beautifying and adorning my community and my surroundings.

What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?

I only went as far as considering what I will do this summer! I have just started the creative thinking around touring Europe by car for a month, starting in my home country Romania. Keep checking my facebook for more info, I intend to make this tour be a social art project.

As a rule of thumb I don’t spend much time futuring (or pasting for that matter). I prefer to dwell in the only time that I know to ever exist: right now. I could say this thou: I always see myself doing something that I love, whatever that would be.

To browse and buy prints by Diana look here



Arts Spotlight: Stuart Shapiro

Art runs in the Family…

I got the chance to interview Stuart Shapiro, the sales/social media manager for BINDERS, the oldest family owned art business in Atlanta.  BINDERS offers many valuable resources for artist in the community.  On December 5, Stuart will conduct a TechsmART workshop focusing around social media and twitter engagement for artists.  The workshop will take place on December 5, 2012 at 11am at C4 Atlanta Arts Entrepreneurship Center, 115 Martin Luther King Jr Dr, Atlanta, GA 30303.  For more information about the workshop visit Below are some thoughts from Stuart about BINDERS, social media, and the arts community in Atlanta.

1)      Tell me a little about BINDERS.  What’s the purpose of the company? What does Binders art supplies have to offer local artists?

Stuart is third generation family to be working in the business; he grew up working and interacting with BINDERS company.  Currently, he serves as the sales/social media manager for the company.  BINDERS got its start in the 1950s when brothers Moe and Joe Krinsky, known for the successful beer joint in the Highlands, bought the little BINDERS gift store. Now, BINDERS is the oldest family owned art business in Atlanta. The mission of the company is to promote creative connections throughout the community.

  1. You will be conducting a TextsmART workshop, how can social media and technology help artists?

Social media is a great way to start a conversation, promote a brand, and exude an image. It’s a great way to connect with potential clients and build important relationships.  You can connect with people you have something in common with, which helps promote your business. The workshop will focus on how to use social media to benefit the artist’s image and mission statement.

  1. How can artists use Twitter to enhance their business?

Twitter is a great way to promote daily interaction and to have general conversations.  Using 140 characters, it is easy to “cut the fat” and provide a clear and concise message.

  1. What sort of educational opportunities does BINDERS have to offer?

Part of the BINDERS mission is to promote art education throughout the community, and this is accomplished through the BINDERS art school.  The school offers a well rounded course offering and encourages collaboration in the art world.  In addition, BINDERS hopes to promote the business aspect of art and help artist understand what their core values are.  With a strong business and value understanding, BINDERS hopes to push artists forward in the arts economy.

  1. How do you see “the arts” helping Atlanta?

The art scene in Atlanta is a unique situation.  There isn’t a central art district; however there are different art communities in every neighborhood.  Each community is unique with different clientele.  This allows artist to cater to different markets and branch out to different audiences.

  1. What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?

Stuart plans to stay in Atlanta and continue to work with the family business.  He hopes to continue to shape the art community here in Atlanta by promoting community outreach.  He hopes Atlanta will have a thriving art economy and people will come to Atlanta to create, inspire, and buy art.  To learn more about BINDERS please visit

Business Classes for Artists: Creating an Effective Learning Environment

A friend and colleague of mine sent me a link to blog post last week about business training for artists. Many of the points I agree with in the blog. The point made by the author that I agree with most is that business classes for the arts need to be structured in a way that speaks to the specific needs of an arts business or individual artist. The arts community is made up of a myriad of DIY individuals. Most don’t have small business loans or VC investors backing them.

Man in Suit sitting at a computer
What you might get if you Google Entrepreneur

The first, and in my opinion, most important part of a business plan is to decide what the heck it is you’re trying to sell. Is it a service? What is the creative offering? This seems simple. But it can be very challenging for artists. One reason is because artists are often Jacks-of-many-trades. Visual artists may flow between painting or mixed media. A performing artist might be both a singer and a dancer…or a puppeteer, circus performer, writer, director, on so forth.

Before one can get to the “what” of his creative offering, he needs to focus on the “why.” If you work in a variety of media or disciplines, then what is that through line that connects them all? What is your brand really about?

We live in an amazing time. Truly. It is possible to launch a marketing campaign with little money* (of course time is an investment). What are the resources and tools available to the DYI arts business?

*Just a side note: I do believe at some point an arts business needs to be able to invest in growth. You can’t operate with no money forever. You have an obligation to spend money as well as bring in revenue to meet budget goals.

There are some great classes and tools out there for small businesses and entrepreneurs. However, at the end of the day, the best learning environment is one where people can learn from one another as well as from a dynamic curriculum. I remember in grad school discussing this point in an educational psychology class. The “whole” is elevated if participants enter into a learning environment from various stages. Artists with less experience learn from those who have been there, done that. The seasoned artist begins to see her career trajectory as something that is nimble–she feels the freedom to explore new directions. This type of environment is hard to recreate with a one-size-fits-all business class. People of the same industry like to work together.

Recent Ignite Alumi talk about learning from one another. Watch!

The arts business class needs to meet artists and arts admins where they are  currently in their careers. It should frame business planning in a context that is relevant to people within the arts community with real world examples. Part of the gap between practicing one’s art and articulating a cohesive business plan often comes down to a lack of meta-cognition. In other words, artists don’t know that they know business skills. They’ve been told again and again that creating and business planning don’t mix. This is why equipping artists with vocabulary is so important. Learning a new idea or concept can change the way a person thinks and acts.  As humans, we accomplish this partly through language. Learning business vocabulary gets the synapses firing!

I enjoy strategic planning. I find the process very rewarding. I also find that the process taps into my creative center. Business is not a dirty word. In fact, the business plan is neutral. In any industry it takes imagination, smarts and moxie to get a business launched.