Monday, 17 September 2012
Who am I as an entrepreneur. Am I an entrepreneur at all? If so what type of entrepreneur am I aiming to be, and what am I hoping to achieve by being an entrepreneur. To explore these questions the exploration of the word itself is necessary. What does it mean to be an entrepreneur, and how can skills in this quite ambiguously defined field help me in my own creative practise?
Creative practise is to me the process in which we all go through in an effort to make a career out of being a creatively-minded individual. It is about learning ways to grow and develop, and understanding in which direction you are growing and why. Finding ways to mesh your own creative practise with that of others, and learning to effectively communicate ideas through chosen medium, whatever it may be. It is ever changing, it is ever adapting and it is ever evolving as we change adapt and evolve.
Entrepreneurship runs on a similar set of principles. To me the most important aspects of entrepreneurship is having the ability to identify an idea, and to see it through, to act on it.
Geoff Ross is the founder of 42Below vodka, a premium vodka brand created in New Zealand to harness our ‘pure image’ and apply it to the spirits market (Pacific, 2011). Both Geoff Ross and the highly publicised rise of 42Below brand name were detailed extensively in his book ‘Every Bastard Says No.’ (Ross & Troy, 2011) It tells the story of how one man with an idea to create something extraordinary can produce a multi million dollar name.
It would be difficult to deny that Geoff Ross fits the bill as an ‘entrepreneur’. By establishing the connection between the vodka product and NZ’s clean green image, 42Below was able to take it’s production from a still in Geoff’s basement to shelves behind the most exclusive bars and nightclubs across Europe and America. Eventually the brand name was sold to Bacardi for NZ $138 million (Ward, 2006).
What interests me the most about this story however is the idea of exposure and brand marketing. 42Below quickly established itself as a premium product, and can be regarded as one of the first products to utilize viral marketing when it was in its infancy. Through pushing the product in as many peoples faces as possible as quickly as possible, and by insisting that the product was the cleanest purest of its kind, Geoff essentially made it so.
‘Exposure’ and ‘Branding’ are tools which I am only recently coming to realize is vital not only in marketing and advertising tool-sets, but in that of the ‘Creative’. My brand is my name, my product is the body of work that i produce. It is important to not only think about this when developing a creative practise, but it is important to act on it, to develop exactly what kind of image you want to portray as a creative individual, who your work is speaking to and how. It is important to analyze how people will find your work, how you can push your work into the public sphere so as to attract more attention, and to take feedback from the people who you are appealing to.
It is in this analysis that the foundations of a more structured form of entrepreneurship is formed. As with the story of Geoff Ross and the development of the 42Below brand, identifying opportunities through making clear what you are trying to achieve and working along with the market to accurately and effectively communicate the ideas present in your work is the key to entrepreneurial success. It can also be reflected that this communication between producer, product, and consumer is what makes social entrepreneurship possible; by effectively coercing people to a cause, or building connections between that which has previously been unconnected through communication of ideas.
Perhaps more specific to my own personal development is Hydro74. Also known as Joshua M. Smith, Hydro74 is an Orlando based designer who has successfully established himself as an illustration powerhouse. He has contracted for such household names as Nike, Adidas, Hasbro, Toyota and Lucasfilm, as well as producing regular commission based illustrations for bands, sports teams, and game and film media on an international scale.
His distinct and immediately recognisable stylistic quality is his frequent use of bold contrasting two-tone imagery anchored in contemporary visualisation and underground often vicious focal points reminiscent of tattoo culture.
For me, Joshua M. Smith demonstrates an effectively implemented entrepreneurial spirit by demonstrating a productive and malleable approach to work as a creative practitioner. His core talent lies in his distinct style and his visual sensibility, which is a marketable trade on its own. However, his exploration of varied application of illustrative talent allows him to evolve his name into a brand. He no longer relies on traditional canvas print or expose or showcase work as his main facet of work, as is the case with more conforming artists. Instead he demonstrates a keen eye for spotting opportunities by branching out into apparel, product, and installation as methods to sell and expose his work to a wider audience (Smith).
“The soul purpose of my career is to push the boundaries in doing what I feel is relevant to the market as well as extract various elements and trends to be able to offer them up in my own personal work.” (Smith, 2012)
This approach essentially wraps up my reasons for pursuing the Creative Technologies course. If one were to think of their personal skill-set or creative practise as a bookshelf, then it is possible to observe that to create an appealing and interesting catalogue, exploration of genres is necessary. Likewise, with personal development of creative practise it is necessary to explore the realms of what is possible through experimentation and variety. To explore the notion that an entrepreneur is not someone who simply sees things that others don’t, or is successful in accruing financial gain in ways most people miss, but instead is someone who is able to connect the previously unconnected. By seeing an opportunity to do something different and by following through with the conviction to see it happen, is to me the most important and common trait of an entrepreneur. One that I intend to implement into my own creative practise, in an attempt to become an entrepreneur.
Foreman, M. (2006, 05). Geoff ross: Liquor legend. istart technology in business, Retrieved from http://www.istart.co.nz/index/HM20/AL29454/AR28496
High Speed Productions. (2012, 03 29). Hydro74. Retrieved from http://www.juxtapoz.com/Illustration/hydro74
Mediaweb. (2010, 09). The last word: Geoff ross. Retrieved from http://www.management.co.nz/executiveupdate.asp?eID=44
Pacific, B. (2011). 42below. Retrieved from http://www.42below.com/
Rattleyadags. (2010). Geoff ross - go with what you believe [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeQpjMwoj-c&feature=relmfu
Ross, G., & Troy, J. (2011). Every bastard says no. Auckland: Random House NZ Ltd.
Smith, J. M. (2012, 09 06). Hydro74 / mcmlxxiv. Retrieved from http://www.hydro74.com/about/
Smith, J. M. (n.d.). Purveyor of sin mcmlxxiv hydro74 storefront. Retrieved from https://www.merchline.com/hydro74/
Ward, S. (2006, 09 28). Bacardi, 42 below in $138m cocktail. The New Zealand Herald, Retrieved from http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10403312