academy of art university

Academy of Art University Can Help Make Art Your Business

Believe it or not, the internet and social media are just as useful to a modern-day artists as a paint brush, pencil, and paper.

How is this possible?

In today’s technology-driven world, platforms like Etsy, Artsy, and Instagram offer artists a place to sell their wares and develop a personal brand. Modern-day artists can become successful, creative entrepreneurs, all by combining their passion, skill, and a whole lot of hustle.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a filmmaker, a painter, a photographer or a designer. The most important step in taking yourself from artist to successful entrepreneur is making sure you have a distinct style or brand and know how to market it to the right audience. The best place to start developing your style? Academy of Art University in San Francisco, where no matter what your major is, you’ll graduate fully equipped with the skills and tools needed to become successful in your chosen career field. The Academy understands the necessity for its students to be armed with entrepreneurial skills and has applied that awareness to majors in every discipline.

Each department at the Academy takes a unique approach to incorporate entrepreneurial skills into the classroom.

Art History & Liberal Arts

In Art History & Liberal Arts, students are exposed to a variety of subjects including the history of art and design, writing, literature, music, philosophy, science, and business practices. The knowledge gained from these subjects enhances aspiring artists’ creative processes as they work to cultivate careers in creative industries.

For students who dream of starting their own creative enterprise, a course called The Small Business Entrepreneur provides students with the practical skills to conceive, plan, organize, manage, and effectively communicate their ideas into a structured business plan. It doesn’t stop there—students can apply the strategies they learn in one of five social media courses to promote their services and jump-start their entrepreneurial career.

Fine Art

The Fine Art department at the Academy of Art University prides itself on equipping students with the right skill set as artists and entrepreneurs. According to Dr. Craig Nelson, Executive Director of the School of Fine Art, “The strength of the fine art department is that it educates its students based on the fundamental of drawing, painting, color, and design and we allow them to find their own voice as they progress through the program.” The school prides itself on the fact that the day after commencement, Academy graduates are truly prepared to start on their creative career paths. Dr. Nelson himself is an example of a working artist/entrepreneur. He is a working artist on the east coast teaching workshops, working on commissions, and showing in galleries.


Because many students who graduate from the School of Illustration work as freelance artists, the school is driven to elevate their entrepreneurial spirits early and often. No one appreciates the value of that better than Mario Delgado (BFA 2012), a School of Illustration graduate and now the owner of his own tattoo studio in San Francisco.

To open Moth and Dagger, his custom tattoo shop in Union Square, Delgado applied the lessons that he learned at the Academy of Art University. “My instructors were amazing. Because they all teach part-time and have their own illustration ventures outside the school, they know what it takes to make it on both levels,” Delgado said.

Motion Picture, Television, Writing

The Executive Director of the School of Entertainment at the Academy of Art doesn’t pretend that the business is easy to break into. “There are jobs,” Jana Sue Memel, who also happens to be an Academy Award-winning producer, said. “If you cast yourself as a product and craft the tools, skills, and knowledge that you learned here, you will get your shot.”

At the School of Motion Pictures and Television at the Academy, students can take classes and earn degrees in directing, cinematography, writing, producing, production design, and editing, where they’ll meet like-minded individuals who can help build an entrepreneurial network later. Students are encouraged to supplement their creative skills with entrepreneurship and business courses that will develop their knowledge of marketing, fundraising, and producing.

Web Design and New Media

With the Academy of Art University’s location in the heart of downtown San Francisco, where the world of technology and design meets every day, graduates of the School of Web Design and New Media discover abundant job opportunities in the industry.

Those who want to take it a step further and strike out on their own need only to look to some of the notable alumni who have become successful worldwide. Archer Chiang, who got his Master of Arts in Web Design and New Media at the Academy of Art University in 2017, is now the CEO of Giftpack, an international gift shopping and delivery app that he founded. Another notable grad is Khai Pham, the founder of Product Lead, a trusted online platform for people to book and share hotel rooms with people in their communities.

The path to becoming an artistic and creative entrepreneur isn’t always easy, but there is an easy path to the Academy of Art University, which will help nurture ideas and help direct you to where to want to go. For more information, go to

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