Editor’s Note: Inside Business reporter Trevor Metcalfe stopped by I|E Series on Granby to see what all the fuss was about. Evidently he was especially humbled by the Entrepreneurship in the Arts panel. Read below for his perspective on the event.
From Inside Business
For Norfolk hip-hop producer Roosevelt “Bink” Harrell III, his first success wasn’t a Grammy award. It wasn’t earning a place in the Library of Congress for his work helping to produce rapper Jay-Z’s seminal record “The Blueprint.” It wasn’t even his first single.
“My first success was just getting noticed,” he said.
Harrell and three other panelists spoke about the long and often arduous journey to entrepreneurial success as artists during a discussion April 5 in Norfolk. The talk was one of several at the new I|E Series on Granby event – a collaborative entrepreneurship initiative between Hampton Roads colleges and universities and startup resource organizations.
Fellow panelist and aerial drone videographer Jimmy Olivero was quite literally able to turn his hobby into a career. Growing up, he flew remote control helicopters around outside his New York home. As he grew older, he said he realized he could attach a small camera to the device and “get some amazing footage.”
The timing was perfect, and Olivero said he was able to leverage the new technology into working with big organizations like Madison Square Garden and National Geographic.
Panelist and visual artist Asa Jackson also started young, selling his first painting in high school. He said his career was successful because he sought out others with a passion for the arts.
“You’re selling something that’s not necessarily needed in a tangible way, but it is needed in other ways,” Jackson said.
Panelist and Roper Performing Arts Center Executive Director Paul Lasakow began as a child actor and said he got pulled back into a theater career several times during his life.
All four panelists stressed the need for networking and partnerships for any budding entrepreneur. Lasakow credited that social process for the longevity of his career in the arts.
“It’s all about maintaining and developing and fostering relationships,” he said.
For Jackson, entrepreneurship was an opportunity for personal growth.
“Having a gallery representing other artists opened my mind to just the strict business side of the arts,” he said.
Through the gallery, Jackson said he was able to help others succeed and develop a business network in the visual arts space. He said it’s now a vital part of his life and career.
Most of the panelists agreed that in entrepreneurship, especially in the arts, success is not guaranteed.
“It’s a marathon,” Jackson said.
Olivero said for several years, he was working several states away from his family because his business demanded it. He said if you’re not willing to bet your home on a project, the life might not be for you.
“You’ve got to be willing to risk it all,” he said.
In the music space, Harrell advocated for fellow artists to retain ownership of their work and stake out their independence from studios and streaming services if possible. “We can all create our own Spotify,” he said.
He also told musical artists to seek out and learn from others in their communities, even if it sometimes means ceding control or asking for help.
“Humble yourself,” he said.
From Inside Business
By Trevor Metcalfe
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