Creative Entrepreneurship

The stereotype of the starving artist, one who endures a life of poverty for a labor of love, is a common cultural conception. Indeed, many creative individuals ultimately choose to forgo any professional pursuit of their creative endeavors because of a perceived uphill battle of “making a living” in the arts.

However, today a growing “do-it-yourself” mindset is allowing artists, designers, engineers, architects, and other creators to invent jobs for themselves that didn’t exist a decade ago.  More now than ever, business- and technology-savvy individuals are branding, marketing and networking their way into successful creative careers.


Brian De Herrera-Schnering is the founder of Colorado-based video production company, Pinto Pictures.  Prior to moving to Colorado in 2007, he was employed full-time as a video editor at a company that produced healthcare education films, but was unable to find similar full-time work upon relocating to Colorado.  Nevertheless, upon establishing his own business he found Denver housed a robust, collaborative community of film, animation, and video design professionals, and his business has thrived ever since.  His company now specializes in a wide range of film-based projects and has worked with a number of local companies and nonprofits in Colorado, as well as national major entertainment brands like Discovery Channel, TLC, Root Sports, and Dish Network.

Another success story is LA-based entrepreneur KamranV, who has mashed technology, marketing and music to build a diverse creative industries company called CyKiK.  CyKiK has successfully undertaken a wide range of creative business endeavors, including developing Interscope Records’ mobile business; designing POP-AUT, a payment system for music, games art and other creative projects; producing DVD-Audio projects for artists like Beck and Nine Inch Nails, and taking over the production of Moogfest.  KamranV is also one of the founders of Bedrock.LA, a converted manufacturing building that houses music rehearsal and showcase rooms, recording studios, and an equipment rental and repair shop.

As these two examples show, there are many opportunities to thrive as a creative entrepreneur, whether pursuing film, music or technology and a mash-up of multiple mediums.


The emergence of the “creative entrepreneurship” movement has been fueled by several factors.  By far the biggest is the emergence of technologies that unbundled creators from the traditional hold of studios, book publishers, concert promoters, record companies and museums.   Artists today have the ability to distribute and make money from their works in ways that were never available to prior generations.

New, web-based technologies have also generated innovative ways of project collaboration.  One clear example of this is crowdfunding.  Sites like KickStarter and IndieGogo have made the process of raising capital significantly easier for artists and startups.

Finally, the national economic slump that began in 2009 led to a lack of good-paying employment opportunities for millions of young people and recent college grads, and also resulted in layoffs for other workers who had been working their way up the traditional career ladder.  A number of these individuals realized they could no longer rely on an employer or a large established company to train and mentor them towards their dream career.  


Today, designers, artists and creators mix artistic expression with business skills in order to thrive and sustain their endeavors. These individuals recognize they can utilize new resources and platforms to form their own businesses that contribute to media, arts and culture.  However, there are many legal pitfalls that could take a fledgling creative-industries business owner by surprise. 

One of these is the unfortunate receipt of a Cease and Desist Letter for either trademark or copyright infringement.  When forming a new business, people may spend a lot of time and energy coming up with a great brand name, designing a great new logo, and planning an interactive website, only to learn, after a large investment has already been made, that the name is being used by another company.  This happened to Judith Mendez, an entertainer who went by the name Dita de Leon.  Ms. Mendez decided to expand her business by offering jewelry, clothing and leather goods featuring her stage name “Dita”, but was sued for trademark infringement by luxury sunglasses brand, Dita, Inc.

Another pitfall for new businesses is improper business planning or the incorrect reporting or calculation of taxes.  This topic certainly isn’t very exciting or sexy, but extremely important.  For example, running a business a certain way, especially if there are two or more owners, or misunderstanding the filing and deposit requirements from having employees can have huge financial repercussions.  Even if you acknowledge your mistake to the taxing authorities and try to work something out to resolve it, the impacts of not knowing the intricacies or administrative rules of the tax system can be devastating and shutter an emerging business altogether.Do you need help starting a new creative business or dealing with a tax problem under your current enterprise?  Contact us today to schedule a consultation with an attorney.

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