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Art and Design alumni continue to contribute to economic development throughout the country by establishing businesses both large and small. These entrepreneurs create commerce that includes a graphic design agency, an interior design firm, an independent film production company, a furniture maker/distributor, a ceramic studio/gallery and a large printing corporation to name a few. Our graduates, who are featured below, are risk-taking-problem-solvers, who are determined to identify new opportunities and find a successful niche in a competitive marketplace. We would like to present other stories of entrepreneurial alumni.

Please contact Michael Cinelli at 906-227-2194 or mcinelli@nmu.edu.



Business name, location and year founded:
Beth Millner Silversmith and Jewelry Artist, Marquette, Michigan, 2007

Alumni owner(s):
Beth Millner

Studio area, degree, and year graduated:
Metalsmithing, BFA 2008

Nature of business:
Making handcrafted jewelry available at art shows, gallery gift shops and online. Teaching Silversmithing classes and workshops.

Business highlights:
I have run my business from home for 5 years and in May of 2012, I opened my own storefront at 521 W Washington St. Marquette, Michigan.

Thoughts on entrepreneurship:
A considerable portion of my business comes from online customers. It has been really amazing to have customers from around the world via the Internet. My jewelry has been shipped to Greece, Australia, Israel, France, New Zealand, Canada and to many places all over in the United States. Marketing my work online has been a great way to gain exposure. Working hard and paying close attention the business aspects of making a living selling art is a very important key to success.

Website:www.bethmillner.com




Business name, location and year founded:
Mad Spider Studio, Marquette, Michigan, 2005

Alumni owner(s):
Kelly Carter

Studio area, degree, and year graduated:
Illustration, BS 2001

Nature of business:
Creating digital illustration for print and web use.

Business highlights:
AKC Gazette- Editorial Illustrations, Tot Talk Inc.-Educational product design and illustration, No-Mark Cards -Greeting Cards for all occasions, Numerous book cover and complete children's book illustration.

Thoughts on entrepreneurship:
I started out working in illustration during a rather exciting time, when new markets were being opened up through the opportunities provided by the internet. Much of my work involves new and growing businesses taking advantage of that marketplace. This particular niche appeals to me on many levels because not only do I get up every morning and have the opportunity to draw for a living, but I am also helping other people turn their dreams of business or authorship into a reality. Being self employed is not for everyone though. There is a lot more to it then just creating artwork. Marketing, correspondences, paperwork, accounting, juggling multiple deadlines, maintaining strong work relationships are a huge part of the job. Clients tend to think you are available 24/7 since you work at home which is is an unfortunate side effect. But it is a great life though and I would not trade it for anything else. The freedom of it has allowed me to work while traveling abroad for months at a time and I am always having ideas for new directions to pursue next.

Website:www.madspiderstudio.com




Business name, location and year founded:
Revisions Design Studio, Store: online, Studio: Gwinn, Michigan, Founded: May 2008

Alumni owner(s):
Michele Dugree, owner/Torrey Dupras, co-owner

Studio area, degree, and year graduated:
Michele: Ceramics, BFA 2006/Torrey: Math and Physics, BS 2008

Nature of business:
Multimedia product design and production. Each of Revisions’ products are designed and handmade on site in our 2,000 square ft. studio.

Business highlights:
We have been very fortunate in our successes since starting our venture in 2008. Our first major publicity came in October 2008 when our products were published in Bust Magazine. Revisions was commissioned to produce a large-scale porcelain chandelier for Bay de Noc Community College’s Besse Fine Art Center. May 2009 Revisions was invited to participate in the Design Boom exhibition at the ICFF in NYC. August 2009 Target picks up our porcelain candles to be sold online and in select stores. We purchase a duplex to house our growing business and Revisions has a new 2,000 square ft studio. November/December 2009 Country Living Magazine features our product in their Holiday Gift Guide. Uncommon Goods begins carrying our products. MoMA confirms our products will be sold in their spring catalog.

Thoughts on entrepreneurship:
Going into business for yourself is not a job, it’s a lifestyle. It takes countless hours of dedication and your job is never over at five o’clock. I have found that creating a business from what I love to do really doesn’t feel like “work” at all. It has been the most challenging and rewarding thing I have done to date. If you want to create a career from your art, remember that it IS still a business. You can’t just make things and expect people to flock to you. Having a strong background in math, finances, marketing and such will help you immensely! I highly recommend the book “The E Myth” by Micheal E. Gerber. It really helped me define the line between the three people in one you need to be when starting a business: The Entrepreneur, The Manager, The Technician.

Website:www.revisionsdesignstudio.com




Business name, location and year founded:
Flying Anvil Designs, Fort Collins, Colorado, 1998

Alumni owner(s):
Julie Jerman-Melka

Studio area, degree, and year graduated:
Metalsmithing/Jewelry/BFA/1980

Nature of business:
Designing, creating, and marketing of three distinct jewelry lines. I also provide custom work for long-term clients.

Business highlights:
Published in 500 Earrings, by Lark Books, May 2007 -Merit Award Winner at the 2006 Summer Buyer’s Market of American Craft Show in Philadelphia -Niche Finalist for Jewelry/Fashion category, 2007 Winter Buyer’s Market of American Craft -Invitational shows in Hida Takayama, Japan in 1998, and Barcelona, Spain in 2005 -Numerous invitational exhibitions throughout the United States-Establishing long-term relationships with galleries that sell and promote my work.

Thoughts on entrepreneurship:
I’ve never chosen the easy path, but nine years into owning my own business, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am fortunate that my husband handles the business aspects of Flying Anvil Designs, which gives me more creative time, and time in my studio than I ever thought possible. All decisions are ours and ours alone. The challenges and deadlines can be overwhelming at times, but the rewards that come with established gallery relationships, and new establishments wanting to sell my work, well, priceless.

Website:www.flyinganvildesigns.com




Business name, location and year founded:
Risak Pottery, Marquette, Michigan, 1980

Alumni owner(s):
Ed and Julie Risak

Studio area, degree, and year graduated:
Ed Ceramics/M.A./1980 Julie Drawing/M.A./1983

Nature of business:
The business is comprised of designing, creating, and marketing handmade pottery.

Business highlights:
-Permanent Collections: Dow Chemical Corporation, Midland, MI Mazda Corporation, Okyo, Japan Smithsonian, Renwick Gallery, Washington, DC White House, Washington, DC -Awards: Art on the Rocks, Marquette, MI Boca Raton Festival of the Arts, Boca Raton, FL Coconut Grove Arts Festival, Miami, FL Festival of the Masters, Orlando, FL Winter Park Art Festival, Winter Park, FL -Publications: American Craft Magazine Ceramics Monthly Magazine The Raku Book

Thoughts on entrepreneurship:
We have been entrepreneurs for more than 25 years. The Focus of our business is the production of one of a kind ceramic artworks. We market our work via our local gallery sales, wholesale accounts, exhibits and art shows. We control all aspects of production from ideation to creation. We choose our marketing strategies as well as handling sales, which allows us flexibility and adaptability. While this is allot of responsibility, it also allows us to insure production of unique and aesthetic artworks.

Website:www.risakpottery.com/




Business name, location and year founded:
Blanc & Reed, New Haven, Connecticut, 2004

Alumni owner(s):
Andrew Reed

Studio area, degree, and year graduated:
Furniture Design/BFA /2002

Nature of business:
Blanc & Reed is a full service product design firm noted for its offbeat approach to household accessories. With a wide-ranging portfolio, the duo of Andrew Reed and Ben Blanc’s collection of work is distinguished by its merging of function, appeal and a sense of the unexpected. As the designers explain, they “answer the question ‘Why?’” by creating products that respond “Why not?” The company remains dedicated to creating lasting design in an ever-changing world. Blanc & Reed’s limited and mass-produced work can be found in design shops in the US and abroad.

Business highlights:
-Exhibited work in Milan, Italy for the International Furniture Fair 2005
-Exhibited at Martha Stewart’s Headquarters in New York, NY at a juried exhibition during the International Contemporary Furniture Fair 2006.
-Appeared and featured in 28 National and International Magazines including Dwell, Metropolitian Home, Clear, and the New York Times.
-Featured on HGTV’s “I Want That! Tech Toys” as well as Martha Stewart’s daytime show, “MARTHA”

Thoughts on entrepreneurship:
The path of running a company is an involved commitment. Your role many times can be less about designer or artist and more of accountant, salesperson, public relations, etc. It is a demanding venture with a constant balance of time and energy. Mistakes are a given, the goal is to just make more correct choices than bad ones. However, with all the risk and commitment required as an entrepreneur come the benefits of independence and limitless possibilities.

Website:www.cucumberlab.com




Business name, location and year founded:
the Ben GRAHAM GROUP, Inc.,Lansing, Michigan, 1986

Alumni owner(s):
Ben Graham

Studio area, degree, and year graduated:
Graphic Design/BFA/1974

Nature of business:
I have operated this business, the Ben GRAHAM GROUP, Inc. for the past twenty years of my thirty-two year career as a graphic designer, art director and creative director.  As a full service, freelance, graphic design studio in Lansing, Michigan our focus is creative direction and production for the print media.  We are also called upon for strategic planning, creative direction for video production, web site design and integrated marketing strategy and planning. Before this venture I held positions as a graphic designer in advertising, printing and publishing businesses and organizations, all right here, in Michigan. The Ben GRAHAM GROUP, Inc. is an alternative industry solution to the visual communication needs of the mid Michigan marketplace.  Our goal is to solve communication challenges by translating and interpreting ideas to useful, cost effective, visual solutions.  Performing distinctive, well crafted communications, for the corporate, health care, retail, educational and non-profit communities as an efficient alternative to the ad agency experience.    

Business highlights:
The Ben GRAHAM GROUP, Inc. has been consistently recognized by the industry.  Among the distinctions earned are the Top 60 Award of Excellence from the Mead Paper Company, the Graphex Excellence Award from the Art Directors Club of Tulsa, the Award of Vision from the Howard Paper Mills, the NICHE 2006 Top Retail Newsletter Award and the National Wildlife Federation's Education Publication of the Year Award.  Additional recognition has come in the form of numerous Gallery of Superb Printing Awards and local as well as regional Addy Awards from the National Advertising Federation.

Thoughts on entrepreneurship:
Entrepreneurship is a challenging, ever changing experience.  Success is based on ideas and concepts, matching challenges with solutions and how this collision of forces is accomplished, in a commercial and competitive environment.  Creativity, quality and an instinct to, not only, survive but to flourish within your particular effort is key to entrepreneurial longevity. It is a guts and glory, risk and reward odyssey that, if successful, propagates itself and in this "life of its' own" reality, is were there is a sense of accomplishment. Each success is in the past and your next challenge is a calendar page away -- exhilarating!

Website: outstandinginhisfield.com




Business name, location and year founded:
Stumptown Media.com, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2003

Alumni owner:
Dusan Harminc

Studio area, degree, and year graduated:
Electronic Imaging/BFA/2003

Nature of business:
Web, Graphic and Interaction Design; Video Production and Post-Production; Photography.

Business highlights:
Our clients include: Entertainment Industry professionals, artists and agencies in Los Angeles; a national Public Relations firm based here in Portland; The Hispanic Communications Network- which provides nationwide radio programming and newspaper publishing based in Washington, DC. etc. The full client list is available on our website.

Thoughts on entrepreneurship:
There are advantages and disadvantages to self-employment. The minuses are long hours, working nights and weekends and being responsible for your own health insurance. But the positives by far outweigh the negatives. Building your own business allows you to create your own hours and work from home. Another major plus is not having a boss to answer to. It allows you the freedom to conduct business your way and once your business is in demand the ability to choose the projects that interest you. The great thing about NMU's Electronic Imaging program is that it doesn't force you into a niche. You can learn a wealth of knowledge in a number of disciplines and this not only makes finding work easier, but also makes your job more fun. A company will usually hire you- because of your niche- to do your niche- 9-5- all the time- and this more than anything else can burn a person out. So three years into our business- I would highly recommend starting out on your own as soon as you can.

Website:www.StumptownMedia.com




Business name, location and year founded:
Cerulean Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2006

Alumni owner(s):
Michael Kowbuz

Studio area, degree, and year graduated:
Painting/ M.A. /1992

Nature of business:
Art Gallery/Art Instruction

Business highlights:
Cerulean Arts is a Philadelphia-based partnership dedicated to the importance of art within the community. From their backgrounds in teaching and practicing art, retail, art history and architecture, proprietors Michael Kowbuz and Tina Rocha have identified a need for a common place which brings together people interested in the various aspects of art.

Thoughts on entrepreneurship:
The existing Art Industry tends to be compartmentalized with art establishments limiting their focus. Whether one is a connoisseur, someone just stopping in to buy a unique gift or an aspiring artist seeking instruction, Cerulean Arts strives to connect all these artistic needs. Michael Kowbuz is also Director of Continuing Education at Penn Academy of Arts.

Website:www.ceruleanarts.com/index.htm




Business name, location and year founded:
Wendy Woods Photography, Stillwater, Minnesota, 2002

Alumni owner(s):
Nick Gorski: co owner, photographer and media director

Studio area, degree, and year graduated:
Film / BFA / 1976

Nature of business:
Primary: Wedding Photography & Portraits -- secondary: commercial, architectural, editorial images

Business highlights:
Nick Gorski - ASMP New York Chapter Image 06, Judge's Choice Award, Photography for winning entry by Sala Architects to the AIA Minnesota 2006 RAVE Awards (Residential Architects Vision & Excellence)

Thoughts on entrepreneurship:
It is all too easy to be swallowed whole by the work and client commitments - you MUST draw lines and let the chips fall where they may. And don't be a bottom feeder - if you don't charge professional fees, act and deliver accordingly, you will never be considered a professional.

Website:www.wendywoods.com