Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in arts but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ben Cuevas, owner of Ben Cuevas Creative, located in Los Angeles, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I'm an artist, art director, and graphic designer. I make art pieces and exhibit them in galleries and museums, and I sell my work to collectors. I'm especially known for being a master knitter—for one of my sculptural installation pieces. I knit a complete human skeleton, which went viral on the internet several times over. I do talks and workshops as well for universities and cultural institutions. I also consult with business owners to provide artistic direction for their marketing and brand identity. I design branded systems that create unique visual identities so that companies can reach their desired audiences. I'm a very versatile designer and an Adobe Creative Cloud expert, skilled in designing for 360-degree marketing that encompasses web, social, print, and interactive media.
Tell us about yourself
I first started my business after I received my BA in studio art and photography from Hampshire College. I did an art residency after graduating from The Wassaic Project, which let me go right from being in school to being a working artist. I needed a structure to support my creative work, so I formed Ben Cuevas Creative as my solo agency to give myself a business platform on which I've been able to build my artistic practice.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment was being invited to speak about my art at Brown University. To have an Ivy League institution host me as an honored guest is an experience I will never forget.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
It's really hard being a creative person in this world—especially in terms of economics. Our society is not set up to support artists financially. Every day it's a constant hustle to try to figure out how to do life as a creative professional. You have to be a little delusional to make it work. You have to be your own biggest cheerleader because nobody else will be. It's really about showing up for yourself and believing in yourself beyond what anybody would deem you capable of.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Think about what problems you are solving for people. If you're an artist who makes art for art's sake, as I do on one side of my creative practice, this might be a little abstract—you're solving the problem of helping people find meaning in the world. If you're doing commercial art, like on the other side of my creative practice, the problems you solve are a little more concrete—like, how do brands connect with their audience, and how do you tell the story of a brand so that it resonates with the problems they are solving for their customers.
- Find yourself a good tax person—always maximize deductions as much as possible. A good tax professional will help you figure out how to do that for your business. Being a business owner gives you tons of opportunities to save on taxes if you do things right.
- Never underestimate the power of community. Business is all about building relationships, and good relationships are what make businesses and communities thrive. The bonds we form with other people are what give us strength as humans and entrepreneurs.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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