Artist Business Brainstorm Sessions are FREE 30 minute one-on-one brainstorming opportunities for artist entrepreneurs who are members of AAAC at any level or $35.00 to non-members (which will be applied to an Individual Membership) to meet with professionals in the business field. These sessions provide an artist looking for individual coaching on a specific topic the opportunity to meet with a skilled professional willing to offer suggestions to help grow their business. The AAAC is interested in supporting artists who are serious about strengthening, developing and growing their businesses. We believe Asheville area businesses and artists can support each other through creative collaboration that will ultimately enhance our community.

Brainstorm sessions will be held on specific days at the Asheville Area Arts Council at The Refinery located at 207 Coxe Ave, Asheville, NC 28801.

Call 828.258.0710 or email us at info@ashevillearts.com for more information.

If you have attended an artist business brainstorm session and would like to give feedback on your experience, or suggest a topic for a future session, please complete this survey.

PLEASE NOTE:  If you sign up for a session and skip it, you will not be permitted to sign up for other future sessions.

Interested in coaching an Artist Business Brainstorm?

If you’d like to host/lead an Artist Business Brainstorm or recommend a topic, please contact Stefanie Gerber Darr at stefanie@ashevillarts.com. Please send a brief summary of what you’d like to brainstorm at least two months in advance.

Upcoming Brainstorm Sessions:


Thursday, April 13, 2017 | 3:00 – 5:00 pm

Artist Business Brainstorm: How to Grow and Thrive Your Small Creative Business

Have questions on how to start your own creative business? Or how to grow and make your current business thrive? Then come ask the expert! Victor Palomino, program associate with the Western Women’s Business Center, a program of Carolina Small Business Development Fund, is partnering with the AAAC to offer his small business expertise to our members. This is your chance to ask any and all questions on how to work smart and not harder as a creative entrepreneur.

Victor serves as WWBC’s Program Associate. In this position, he creates and promotes classes, workshops, and events for the WWBC and Carolina Small Business Development Fund’s Latino Program. He also researches new programs and events that will help small businesses grow and thrive in Western North Carolina. Prior to Carolina Small Business, Victor worked with Mountain BizWorks as an entrepreneurship coordinator. He also owns his own art business. Victor holds a bachelor’s degree in filming and photography.

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Thursday, May 11, 2017 | 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Artist Business Brainstorm: How to Grow and Thrive Your Small Creative Business 

Have questions on how to start your own creative business? Or how to grow and make your current business thrive? Then come ask the expert! Victor Palomino, program associate with the Western Women’s Business Center, a program of Carolina Small Business Development Fund, is partnering with the AAAC to offer his small business expertise to our members. This is your chance to ask any and all questions on how to work smart and not harder as a creative entrepreneur.

Victor serves as WWBC’s Program Associate. In this position, he creates and promotes classes, workshops, and events for the WWBC and Carolina Small Business Development Fund’s Latino Program. He also researches new programs and events that will help small businesses grow and thrive in Western North Carolina. Prior to Carolina Small Business, Victor worked with Mountain BizWorks as an entrepreneurship coordinator. He also owns his own art business. Victor holds a bachelor’s degree in filming and photography.

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Thursday, June 8, 2017 | 4:00 – 6:00 pm

Artist Business Brainstorm: How to Grow and Thrive Your Small Creative Business 

Have questions on how to start your own creative business? Or how to grow and make your current business thrive? Then come ask the expert! Victor Palomino, program associate with the Western Women’s Business Center, a program of Carolina Small Business Development Fund, is partnering with the AAAC to offer his small business expertise to our members. This is your chance to ask any and all questions on how to work smart and not harder as a creative entrepreneur.

Victor serves as WWBC’s Program Associate. In this position, he creates and promotes classes, workshops, and events for the WWBC and Carolina Small Business Development Fund’s Latino Program. He also researches new programs and events that will help small businesses grow and thrive in Western North Carolina. Prior to Carolina Small Business, Victor worked with Mountain BizWorks as an entrepreneurship coordinator. He also owns his own art business. Victor holds a bachelor’s degree in filming and photography.

Sign up now

Past Artist Business Brainstorms:


Professional Practices for the Artist and Craftsperson

Join the AAAC’s Executive Director, Stefanie Gerber Darr, to learn about best practices for the artist or craftsperson. Bring your list of questions, ideas, musings, and/or materials to dive deep into easy steps you can take to enhance your professionalism!


Familiarize Yourself with the AAAC’s Grant Opportunities

Join Janelle Wienke, AAAC’s Grants Manager, for this rare one-on-one conversation to familiarize yourself with the funding opportunities we offer to area artists!


How to Grow and Thrive Your Small Creative Business with Victor Palomino

Have questions on how to start your own creative business? Or how to grow and make your current business thrive? Then come ask the expert! Victor Palomino, program associate with the Western Women’s Business Center: A program of Carolina Small Business Development Fund, is partnering with the AAAC to offer his small business expertise to our members. This is your chance to ask any and all questions on how to work smarter and not harder as a creative entrepreneur.

Victor serves as WWBC’s Program Associate. In this position, he creates and promotes classes, workshops and events or the WWBC and Carolina Small Business Development Fund’s Latino Program. He also researches new programs and events that will help small businesses grow and thrive in western NC. Prior to Carolina Small Business, Victor worked with Mountain BizWorks as an entrepreneurship coordinator. He also owns his own art business. Victor holds a bachelor’s degree in filming and photography.


Wholesale vs. Retail with Darren Green

Are you an artist that’s wondered what it takes to add a wholesale component to your art business? Have you considered what challenges you might face when adding wholesale to your business profile? Fellow RAD artist and business owner Darren Green will give you insight into what it takes. Topics include finding the wholesale client, order fulfillment best practices, and how to be competitive in today’s market.


Shifting Your Perspectives for Personal and Professional Success with Phil Okrend

Is there an area in your life or work as an artist/creative entrepreneur where you feel frustrated and are not getting the results that you want? This interactive presentation will help you identify limiting perspectives that can block your success and move you towards new perspectives that can literally change your life.

Certified life and business coach, Phil Okrend,  CPCC, JD  transitioned from being an attorney, to the life of a creative entrepreneur, writer, speaker and musician. Phil developed and built the nationally recognized greeting card company, MixedBlessing Inc. specializing in interfaith and multicultural holiday cards and products.  As a coach,  Phil offers over 20 years of personal and professional development experience. He has worked with hundreds of clients to achieve extraordinary results in their lives and businesses.


Jen Aly for “Money Mindset”

Are you putting yourself out there, but not getting the return you want? Do you want to step in to the next level and get your work out there & thrive? Want to move more from a hobby to a business? Jen Aly, M.S. learned business skills from million-dollar training company, Thrive Academy in California, and worked as a coach for their clients. She has been a Martha Beck Certified coach since 2003 and has coached clients in the areas of business, marketing, organization, productivity, and relationship. At the age of 23, she began teaching university level English, and her 7 years of teaching spanned from Honduras to Hawai’i. As an Asheville based jewelry designer, she created a full-time business in less than one year. She is a founding member and board member of the Asheville Chapter of Femfessionals, a thriving professional women’s organization. She offers private coaching and group programs.


Boomer Sassmann for “Time Management Tools for Busy Entrepreneurs”

Boomer Sassmann cautions us that “In today’s fast paced world we often forget to create clear boundaries for ourselves. Fortunately, technology and the internet can be used to help streamline our tasks.” This seminar will demonstrate ways to take back your most valuable asset – time. Those in attendance will examine a digital tool box of utilities and services to help paint a picture of proper productivity in today’s fast paced world. Attendees will also explore tools like Zapier and, “If This, Than That”, (IFTTT) to learn how to automate the tedious tasks that one must deal with on a daily basis.


Sharon Oxendine for “How to Build your Business”

Sharon Oxendine has over twenty five years of non-profit and eleven years of CDFI community development funding experience. Her education and experience includes business, financial and human services management. Sharon has worked in the Western North Carolina area for over eleven years offering business training, lending and support. She has a unique understanding of the needs of the underserved entrepreneurial community. She served an estimated 1,800 entrepreneurs and helped start over 900 businesses in the WNC area from 2002-2013. Sharon managed the SBA WBC in WNC from 2002-2010. Sharon believes that support, networking and knowledge are the keys to success in building a business in WNC.


Jenny Greer Fares of Sound Mind Creative for “What’s Your Brand?”

Brand consultant and self-proclaimed design glitteriti, Jenny Greer Fares of Sound Mind Creative will explain how marketing doesn’t have to be an unscrupulous, irritating way for a company to manipulate consumers, but that it can be quite honorable, artistic work. It all starts with a feeling, a story and a poetic brand vision statement. Get to know your business and marketing plan better by adding a brand vision statement you can live by.


Jensen Gelfond of Asheville Digital Lifestyle for “Asheville Digital Lifestyle”

Have questions about your Mac, PC, smartphone or tablet? Having trouble keeping everything in sync? Feeling overloaded with all of the information and email in your life? Tech expert Jensen Gelfond of Asheville Digital Lifestyle is here to help! Jensen can help you break through barriers and use your technology more effectively.


Kathleen Lewis of SewLink for “Successful Business Tips for the Creative Entrepreneur”

Kathleen Lewis owns and operates SewLink/Southern Decor, a professional sewing contracting company here in Asheville for over 25 years. She is also a clothing designer and fiber artist who has showcased her work in various Art Shows in WNC, as well as galleries such as WoolWorth Walk Gallery and Gallery of the Mountains at the Historic Grove Park Inn. During the artist brainstorm session, Kathleen will be offering business tips for the creative entrepreneur.


Darren Green of Old Wood Co. for “Wholesale vs. Retail.

Are you an artist that’s wondered what it takes to add a wholesale component to your art business? Have you considered what challenges you might face when adding wholesale to your business profile? Fellow RAD artist and business owner Darren Green will give you insight into what it takes. Topics include finding the wholesale client, order fulfillment best practices, and how to be competitive in today’s market.


Jessica Tomasin from Echo Mountain Recording Studio for “The Business of Music!”

If you’re a musician looking to move your recording, touring or booking to the next level, you don’t want to miss this Brainstorm session with Jessica of Echo Mountain Recording Studio. She invites you to bring all your questions! Her knowledge of the biz is vast. In the past 7 years, Jessica has run a studio, a record label, and has worked as an artist manager, a publicist, and within the festival world. Questions you might ask Jessica: What is the process of actually making an album from start to finish? How do I get my new song out on the web? What are the resources for booking? How do copyright laws and royalties work? How do I know when I need to hire a manager or publicist for my band?


Heather Shirin, mixed media portrait artist, for “Digital Imagery”

The most important thing you can do for your art career is have the best high resolution images of your 2D or 3D work available. Now that you have them…. now what? Learn basic tools in Abobe Photoshop CS5 to crop, rotate and enhance for the best quality for exporting them for both print and web. We’ll go over resolutions, file sizes and naming conventions. We will discuss gallery submissions and how to display these images consistently on your website and how to design and submit within a printed gallery packet. Previous knowledge of photoshop ideal but not required. Software provided onsite.


Lori Theriault, potter at Crazy Green Studios, for “Social Media for Marketing: the Facebook Edition.”

Social Media for Marketing: the Facebook Edition. Using Facebook to market your business can be highly effective and easier than you think. Learn more about creating a Page, networking and cross promotion, growing an audience, and furthering your brand. The focus will be on Facebook, but may also touch on other social media outlets and how to organize and manage them together.


Lauren Patton, illustrator and co-owner of Zapow! Gallery, for “Selling and Making Reproductions of Your Artwork”

You want to make the art you love, reach your audience and pay your mortgage but often the people that are most excited about new and innovative art don’t have thousands of dollars burning holes in their pockets. What is an artist to do? One answer is to make your work more democratically assessable to the public via digital prints and giclees. Learn more about digitizing your work, digital prints vs. Giclees, how to present your reproductions, costs and suggested sales prices. We’ll also touch on local businesses that provide the services needed to take your image from paint to reproduction.


Jensen Gelfond of Asheville Digital Lifestyle for “Tech-Help”

With your one-to-one session, here are some questions that Jensen can answer: How can I make sure my most critical business documents are available whenever and wherever I need them? How can I convert my calendar, to-list, notes and more to be digital? How can I speed up and optimize my computer?


John Erwin for “Personal Financial Coaching For Artist Entrepreneurs”

In these confidential, one-to-one sessions Personal Business Coach John Erwin can help you untangle and take control of your financial challenges. Whatever thread from the knot you’re pulling on–structuring your business for profitability, pricing, dealing with debt, personal financial management, or just plain getting a grip on how to read your financial statements for effective planning and management–John can help you get a clearer picture of where you are and what your next action steps should be.


Anna Parker-Barnett, owner of Gallery Minerva, for “Ask a Gallery Owner!”

Finally! Your chance, artists, to ask a gallery owner anything you’ve ever wanted to ask. Anna is prepared to answer any question you might have, but here are a few topic examples to get your creative juices flowing – Do’s and don’ts when submitting artwork to galleries. How to market your work through the art gallery system? All the many ways to market art in the ever changing art market world.


Jenny Greer Fares, designer and co-owner of Sound Mind Creative, for “A Brand is a Special Way of Feeling.”

A Brand is a Special Way of Feeling – Learn what a brand is, why you need one. Learn how to build yours or make one yours. Brand consultant and self-proclaimed design glitteriti, Jenny Greer Juice Fares will explain how marketing doesn’t have to be an unscrupulous, irritating way for a company to manipulate consumers, but that it can be quite honorable, artistic work. It all starts with a feeling, a story and a poetic brand vision statement. Get to know your business and marketing plan better by adding a brand vision statement you can live by. What kind of company are you anyway?