She is producing her “Targets” as large-scale paintings on panels. She was invited to participate in a group show at the University of Kansas City this fall. Seven paintings will be on display there and she is thinking about the different possibilities to take advantage of this opportunity.
“The biggest change I am making in my business is to think of my art making process as a more fully realized manufacture and distribution system,” says McFarlane, who also attended AEI in 2008. “I am really thinking about my next series, the Strip Club Signs, not just making the work, but finding a unique space and time to display the work. I now understand the need for a team in order to bring my artwork to market the right way.”
The AEI also came at the right time for Alexis Caputo, helping her to hone her business skills, particularly marketing, in order to take her art to larger platforms. “I want my art to have international appeal, I want to be able to go anywhere in the world to work as an artist and entrepreneur. ... AEI gave me another window on how to attack that,” says Caputo, a multidisciplinary artist, poet, dancer, writer and adjunct professor at New World School of the Arts at Miami Dade College.
Shortly after going through the course, she says she was awarded a grant from the Broward Cultural Division for her Afro Diaries, a multidisciplinary project about women of all walks of life that developed out of her one-women shows. “There are great things unfolding,” she says. “AEI is definitely an investment in yourself and your future.”
Many of these AEI alumni have remained a network. Three artists from the first class — Virginia Fifield, LeeAnna Yater and Jacklyn Laflamme — launched the annual “Doing Business As” art exhibitions to promote the work of fellow AEI alumni South Florida.
“We all met in AEI. We were all pumped up. We wanted to step up to the plate after the class and do something. We thought why don’t we make it about the class, give back a little and inspire everyone,” says Laflamme, an accomplished painter with a colorful, rhythmic style. The first show in 2009 was such a success they have been doing it every year.
“Doing Business As” is a juried show held at the Broward County Main Library in downtown Fort Lauderdale featuring 10 to 12 artists from among the AEI alumni. The six-week-long show, which starts in January, also includes an opening reception, a closing artists’ forum with guest speakers and a catalog featuring the artists.
“In AEI, they teach us not to be afraid to ask for what we want. It is possible to be a full-time artist,” Laflamme says. “Don’t be afraid to take risks,” she advises artists.
Laflamme won grants for a mural product in Wilton Manors in 2009, her “Fairy Tale Project” in 2010 and her “Big Mouth” work in 2011. Her show called “The Voice” is currently part of the group show Serendipity at Studio 18 in Pembroke Pines that closes Sept. 7.
“Follow your heart and follow your dreams,” Laflamme adds. “Take these [business] principles and put them to use. It really works.”
For more entrepreneurship news, follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter, @ndahlberg.