RISD Career Center Webinar Series Provides Advice for Sustaining Creative Practice

Washington Place, home of the Career Center, on a sunny spring day

Creating a distinctive design language, communicating through drawing, taking a project from concept to finished product—RISD artists and designers do all of that and much more. But what about managing digital marketing plans, filing taxes or achieving work-life balance? Art of Business, an expanded series of virtual workshops offered through RISD’s Career Center, provides working artists and designers with the support they need  to manage successful creative businesses. 
“RISD students and alumni are incredibly entrepreneurial, and the series focuses on the key building blocks of any business,” says Career Center Director Kevin Jankowski 88 IL. “Whether students want to focus on freelancing or expand and scale up to a business or LLC [limited liability company], these workshops offer crucial information.”
The Career Center is presenting six webinars for the 2023–24 academic year, the last of which—a workshop on pricing by Erin Cantwell 08 GD—is scheduled for April 16. While the series has existed for nearly two decades in different forms, Jankowski says that offering hour-long interactive sessions over a longer timeframe responds to the way students and alumni consume information in a post-pandemic, remote-working world. It also helps entrepreneurs pace themselves and master one new skill set at a time. 

webinar leader Alison Croney Moses at work in the
webinar leader Hannah Cole
Above, woodworker Alison Croney Moses offered a talk about navigating residencies, educational opportunities and gallery representation; below, Hannah Cole focused on helping artists understand tax terminology and vocabulary.

Each workshop was hosted by Jankowski or Scott Malloy, senior career advisor and website/social media manager at the Career Center, and featured case studies, guides and resources and the opportunity for attendees to ask questions. Registrations from students and alumni have been strong for each session and high for the overall series, Jankowski says.
The first talk featured woodworker Alison Croney Moses 06 FD, who spoke candidly last October about how she navigated residencies, educational opportunities and gallery representation after RISD while balancing administrative work and family life. “Trust your experience and knowledge. That’s what I got from RISD,” she says. “And recognize that we have the power to change things around us.”
Another fall offering, The Essentials of Digital Marketing, was led by writer, consultant and textile artist Francesca Olsen. In her webinar, she balanced a discussion of broad topics—like the distinction between awareness marketing and sales—with specific tips. She offered advice on photographing work for an online audience and engaged with participants’ larger questions about social media and its impact on society.
During Wintersession 2024, three sessions were offered on freelancing, taxes and writing contracts. Jackie Ferrentino 15 IL is a busy freelance illustrator and cartoonist. She shared freelancing tips relevant to all kinds of makers, from how to choose a focus area and network to how to take care of one’s physical and mental health. “You might think that the first step in freelancing is to create an amazing work of art,” she says. “Actually, the first step is that you have to create a legal business.” Ferrentino walked attendees through her own process of working with clients, from outreach through contract negotiations and eventually invoicing.  

work by freelance illustrator Jackie Ferrentino
Work by freelance illustrator and cartoonist Jackie Ferrentino, who shared tips relevant to all kinds of makers.

“RISD students and alumni are incredibly entrepreneurial, and the series focuses on the key building blocks of any business.”

Career Center Director Kevin Jankowski

The session Taxes for Artists and Creative Freelancers, offered by tax expert Hannah Cole of Sunlight Tax, was a natural extension of Ferrentino’s talk, focused on helping artists understand tax terminology and vocabulary. “In addition to being an artist, Hannah is one of the best authorities on taxes for artists and designers in the country,” says Jankowski.
Greg Kanaan 02 FAV, who was a television producer before he became an attorney, led the session How to Write Awesome Contracts. Kanaan broke down what a contract is, what makes it valid and enforceable, and what rights an artist has when a contract is broken. He encouraged artists to understand how powerful they—and a well-written contract—can be.  

As the Career Center prepares for the final spring webinar, Jankowski is also thinking about how to best meet the demands of the Career Center's audience of students and alumni. “We want them to have information they need to make informed decisions about their creative practices so they can flourish as freelancers, small businesses, or scale to even greater levels of business and success.”

Gillian Kiley/top photo by Jo Sittenfeld MFA 08 PH
March 11, 2024

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