SEA Conference in Lisle

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SEA Conference in Lisle

Grady Johns

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Pen, paint, paper–go! If you are you an aspiring painter, writer, graphic design artist, or something in between, and you have plans to be self-employed or freelance on the side, then the Self-Employment in the Arts (SEA) conference is an ideal event for you.

SEA specializes in bringing together college-level artists who are considering being self-employed. As stated in their mission statement, they “provide educational resources to help aspiring artists gain the entrepreneurial knowledge and skills needed to establish and maintain a career as an independent artist.”

        SEA gives those tools by using a variety of workshops to teach skills, such as how to diversify your artistic employment and take care of yourself while creating art at the same time. They also offer workshops tailored to your specific trade, depending on if you’re a writer, painter, graphic designer, etc. The SEA conference also offers other aspects of learning through their competition piece.

Artists who go to the SEA conference and submit artwork also gain the opportunity to sit down one-on-one with a professional artist and get advice about their artwork and career ambitions. This exposure also allows a great deal of networking with other students through avenues like Collaboration rooms, along with the opportunity to meet and listen to college faculty such as Martin Atkins, a Millikin professor, arts-entrepreneur, and author of the book, “Welcome to the Music Business You’re F***ed,” who will be presenting at this year’s conference, sharing his Knowledge and personal experience of what being an arts-entrepreneur is like.

        Sydney Doherty, a senior Graphic Design major, Fellow of the Agile for Entrepreneurship Program, and President of the Art Club, went to the SEA conference last year as a junior and won best-in-show for the painting she submitted.

Sydney offered several insights about going to the SEA conference, one of her main experiences being a change in perspective. “I left with a more developed idea of what it’s like to be a self-employed artist.” Doherty reflected.

Some of her most memorable events were the panels and winning the competition. When asked what she would say to those considering going to the SEA conference, her response was, “Keep an open mind and try to absorb as much as possible from the presenters and fellow attendees. Also–submit artwork to the competition!”

        If going to the SEA conference interests you, then talking to Kate Flemming is your next stop. Kate Flemming is the assistant director of the Center for Entrepreneurship in the Tabor School of Business. Kate is responsible for organizing and getting students to the SEA conference each year. Kate offers logistical information about how Millikin artists make it there. One of the bigger benefits of going as a Millikin student is that part of the cost to go to the SEA conference is covered by the university, and even though the conference increased the prices this year, the Center of Entrepreneurship was able to raise a group scholarship to allow the price to remain one hundred and fifty dollars for students. The reason behind the effort to keep it so affordable, according to Kate, is to “Allow as many Millikin artists the opportunity to go.”

The conference itself is about a day and a half long, with access to a Millikin shuttle for transportation to the conference and back. In the past, this event has been popular with Millikin artists, and Kate has reported that they already half a dozen students signed up, and Millikin is taking more. If the SEA conference sounds like the place to be for you then you can go visit Kate in her office at Scovill 108A.