ENTREPRENEURSHIP: ASAP (After-School Art-Program)
This article was originally published at The Clubhou.se
From adding his style to classmates’ clothing to designing logos, Arthur Abdon has honed his creative skills for decades. Following his military service, Art has gone full-time as a creative in the Augusta area. He’s now launching a new program this fall: ASAP.
What is the business?
My business is Art the Artist Studios. Within my company is a new art enrichment program, I call ASAP, or After-School Arts Program. I am teaching children how to draw using traditional techniques and digital technology. Our tagline is “We are giving our children the creative vision for their future.” If children can visualize what they want to be when they grow up, and be able to have fun doing it now, then they can focus on the direction they need to go for their future.
When and where did you found it?
After retiring from the military I founded my company Art The Artist Studios in Augusta, Ga in 2017 as a creative, an artist, and a painter.
Where is the business now?
ASAP is in the startup phase and will launch this fall. I will have programs in middle schools of the CSRA, teaching young people how to draw and develop comic books. I call this course “I am a Superhero, Too!” I want to show children that with the creative abilities they have (art, dance, music, drama) they can consider them “Superpowers”. We want to keep a positive perspective on creativity.
What were you like in school?
My passions were in art, graphics, and technical drafting. I was well known as an artist in middle school and high school, so I made some money painting customized art on classmates’ clothing. This was back when it was popular to paint graffiti-style lettering and cartoon characters on jean jackets and jeans.
Any extra-curricular activities?
I was in track for one year and then got into JROTC and drill team competitions. I designed the back of our drill team jacket and spent a lot of time in my parents’ basement painting on clothing for my customers. This was kind of my “Lemonade Stand”.
Any significant experiences/skills that influenced your business?
All the things I want to teach children about drawing, and art in general, have to do with my childhood experiences and my military career. Through teaching children the basics of drawing and creating a comic book to tell a story, they also learn how to talk to their fellow classmates and present their ideas, concepts, and finished projects. The military taught me how to talk about conflict resolutions, suicide prevention, and improved decision making. I want to take what I have learned of talking in front of people and my experiences in the military to show the children applicable life skills.
Any previous entrepreneurial experience? Lessons learned?
Selling my artwork on clothes while in high school was my first entrepreneurial experience. More recently, I travelled to Atlanta for an Artist Entrepreneurship Program presented by the Art is King Organization. This enabled me to explore different avenues of being a successful artist. I learned that finding opportunities sometimes starts with volunteering in the community. Those connections from networking can help you sell your artwork.
What appealed to you about entrepreneurship?
My drive as an entrepreneur (artrepreneur) is to use my talents to always help others in the community and to create new jobs for myself and other artists. I also love the flexible time schedule so I can balance my family life and work.
How did you get the idea?
In the spirit of reciprocity, I was looking back to middle school and asked myself what I would teach to a younger me. My answer is to not only learn from other artists how to draw, but to also talk more and communicate your thoughts to others. So that was where some of the ideas came from. I want to get children to draw and organize their thoughts to tell a story in comic book form. Storytelling encourages personal development skills and coping mechanisms. Ultimately, ASAP’s mission is to foster a love for the arts with children that want to create and tell their story.
How has your idea progressed over time?
By the end of last year 2017, I just had the concept and thought it would take a lot longer to start. I have now seen my idea progress to the point where the ASAP program will begin in time for the 2018 school year. By spring 2019, we will be able to have iPads and technology devices for the students to use.
How did you find your co-founders?
I am the sole owner of my company but I am open to partnering with other creative instructors. I am starting with the visual arts this year, though in the future, I hope to expand by partnering with other instructors of dance, music, and drama. I desire to see children be creative in all these areas.
How did you fund the business?
I am funding ASAP by selling my paintings online and at live art events. I am also designing logos for other companies. It is helpful I am also a retired military veteran with pay. I am also thankful for being accepted into the StartUp Life Entrepreneur Program at theClubhou.se. This program helps me cut out a lot of other expenses that comes with starting a business.
How did you market your business?
When I am out painting at a live art event, I share with folks about ASAP and how it teaches children how to draw using the comic book format. I also visit nonprofit organizations, attend workshops, and network to spread the word. Word of mouth also helps.
How did you choose who to hire?
I constantly network with local artists that want to teach children how to draw. I am asking for part-time art instructors (1099 capacity) to subcontract to help teach the art classes and expand this business.
Who are your main competitors?
They are organizations which offer after-school programs, (ie. Boys and Girls Club, KROC Center, and Gertrude Herbert Institution of the Arts) though I have found there are differences that set ASAP apart. ASAP is teaching children three main objectives: how to draw within traditional art, how to tell a short story in comic book format, and how to use technology to create a professional comic book as a product.
What have you learned from your competitors?
I have learned how I can work with my competition. These organizations taught me different ways to structure my business model to accommodate parents and children with a variety of time lengths and course durations. For instance, I can give an art workshop that covers basic art skills in one evening or a weekend. For more involved lessons and projects, a summer art camp for one week or the main after-school art course, covering the whole school year, is more app=ropriate. I have reached out to the competition and met about ways we can collaborate. I also learned that it is possible to hold my classes at there establishments. This is a good way for ASAP to gain more positive exposure.
What does a typical day involve for you? How has this changed over time?
This time last year I was painting during the day and creating logos during the evening. It has changed tremendously over the last couple of months. I am now writing curriculum for art instructions and talking to educators about ways to promote ASAP and working with the schools to help the program work for everyone in the community.
My favorite book is the Bible. Otherwise, I use reference materials like “WORDS for Pictures” by Brian Michael Bendis, “Michelangelo paintings sculpture architecture”, and “Anatomy for the Artist”.
My favorite movies are all the Star Wars series, and recently Black Panther from the MCU.
My favorite entrepreneurs at this point in my life are Chris Do (Graphic Designer of thefutur.com) and Rob (Mr Hub) from Art for Kids Hub. I folow both and watch on youTube regularly.
Best piece of advice?
My advice is to pray and put in the work; take a risk and don’t be afraid of failure; be yourself, be positive, and be thankful; and give back as soon as possible. Giving back can be through teaching others or volunteering your time. Making mistakes and failing are a part of the process. Learning from those mistakes and failures is the most important part of the journey.
Common misconceptions about your business/entrepreneurship in general?
Entrepreneurs and artists are very similar. People often mistake “being an artist” for doing art as a hobby and an entrepreneur as a person in-between jobs. Creatives and entrepreneurs both are obsessed with what they love to do. We both usually start from scratch and build our own brand. We do our own marketing, promotion, and logo designs at first; all to save on costs. The major misconception is that people think that a business can be started overnight, though it usually takes longer than expected, so enjoy the ride.
What is next for your business?
ASAP launches in September 2018 and will focus on teaching middle-school age children with a desire to draw and tell their story. Parents can go to the website www.ArtTheArtist.biz/ASAP for more information and the locations of the courses. Once ASAP is situated in a handful of area schools, we plan to reach out to the homeschool community and churches.
What’s next for you?
I will continue to challenge myself to meet other artists and entrepreneurs that want to make a positive difference for our community. I am starting a meetup group with other up-and-coming artists. I am inspired to mentor them and learn from their experiences. I hope to grow a community of artists that have a centralized vision of helping each other and future artists. Follow me on all social media outlets and offer me feedback: @ArtTheArtist on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.
How has working out of theClubhou.se benefitted your company?
Working at theClubhou.se has been a real game changer for me. I am very grateful to be one of the first participants for the StartUp Life Program. The knowledge from the instructors and the other participants is priceless. We had the opportunity to pitch our business website ideas to the last Code Boot Camp class for them to pick two of our StartUp businesses to help build or expand our website as their project. Three of the students took time to enable my website to receive registration and payments. I am grateful for their hard work and that cut down on my expenses. I have gained new friends that I now consider family because of this StartUp program and the other events held by theClubhou.se.
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