CCAD Tailoring Business & Entrepreneurship Program for Artists & Designers

No matter your major or your interests in college, a little bit of business knowledge is an invaluable tool. And when you’re an artist or designer like the students coming out of CCAD, freelancing or being an entrepreneur is often an option. Marrying those two schools of thought is CCAD’s specially tailored business program.

CCAD started offering more technical business courses about three years ago and through an entrepreneurial process itself of trial, error and tweaking, has hit their stride when it comes to business curriculum.

The department offers four main courses – a finance course called money matters for artists and designers, a legal course that focuses on protecting artists’ legal rights, an entrepreneurship class that addresses starting an art or design business, and a course focusing on marketing tools for artists and designers. ccadlogo

“These classes are all taught by professionals in their fields,” says Business & Entrepreneurship Department Head Elaine Luttrull. As a CPA, Luttrull leads the finance course, a lawyer weighs in for legal matters, “But the challenge with that is making sure the information is relevant to our students who are artists and designers, so what we’ve built here is not the business program you can find at Columbus State or OSU. We’ve built a business program specifically tailored for the needs for artists and designers.”

Luttrull is excited by the integrative nature of the program. Students aren’t coming to CCAD just for the business program, but for their creative discipline, so “Business topics are integrated with the studio curriculum in a way that makes sense,” she says.

Elaine Lutrull
Elaine Lutrull

For example, in her finance class, Luttrull is emailing each student at random throughout the semester pretending to be a client. Students are then evaluated on their pitch, budget and overall professionalism. It’s taking the kinds of issues students already come to her with and integrating them into a classroom setting.

“We’re really making sure the curriculum is reflecting the experiences our students are having,” she says.

A pricing workshop in advance of the annual CCAD Fashion Show is another illustration of the real-world curriculum. Students were asked to price a garment before the workshop began, then after the discussion, re-evaluate their initial estimate. A significant increase in price reflected the students’ deeper sense of value in their work and their ability to justify such prices.

With a lot of already entrepreneurial-minded students, the courses were a tough sell at first, but “I am so thrilled to report that all of those classes are full for this semester,”  Luttrull says.

The robust demand means more sections of the courses in the future, as well as classes focusing on specialized business topics for different majors.

Three factors contributed to the desire to put such programming in place. First was the leadership at CCAD. From the president to the board of directors, each believed in the importance of introducing such knowledge to students.

It’s the city and the students too.

“Because Columbus is such a thriving place to be for young creative individuals in a variety of fields…students are realizing the opportunities they have locally and interested in taking advantage of that, ” Luttrull says. “And, they need some expertise in business and entrepreneurial thinking to make sure they can distinguish themselves.”

Overall, more students are interested in being entrepreneurs and are willing and ready to take advantage of resources that will help them do so. They’re heeding advice when graduates and alumni tell them to pay attention and use those resources they may not have had.

Reaching back out to those students that may have just missed the business programming is another important initiative in the department.

“One of the things that’s really important to me is building a robust curriculum, but also having those co-curricular offerings,” Luttrull says. Those efforts are manifesting through speaker series and programming at the MindMarket.

While it’s hit its stride, Luttrull says the business program will continue to grow and evolve, staying accurate and relevant.

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