Meeting and connecting with people on social media is the new norm. Instagram by far, is my
Read on to learn more about his mission to support artists and other creative entrepreneurs.
1. Growing up, did you always have an interest in the arts/supporting the arts? In addition to this, did you always have an entrepreneur mindset?
Yes. When I was a child in Africa we didn’t have paper, nor toys for that matter, so the girls would draw a house in to the sand and tell stories. They were like soap operas, and they fascinated me. I remember when I moved to Europe I told my mom about this, and she did the same thing. I’ve never forgotten that moment with her. I think it was the first time I had my mind blown.
I’ve always been collaborative in spirit. In high school, before the age of the internet, I had a clothing line, I was throwing parties at clubs I was too young to be in, and since then I’ve worked on different projects. I’ve never had the mentality to stick with it until I started meeting mentors who taught me success principles and what it means to be part of a championship team.
2. How did you come up with the idea of Creative Unicorns of Toronto?
Unicorns are entrepreneurs who created a multibillion-dollar business that services the community. A creative unicorn is an artist who similarly turns their creation into income and Creative Unicorns of Toronto’s purpose is to align creators with their calling and develop them into becoming unicorns who use their creativity in a way that benefits the community.
3. Did you encounter
any struggles/obstacles when you first started Creative UTO?
I just finished telling a friend that business is hard, even when you’re successful. Whenever people ask me what the hardest part of business is, I say People. Because people want and business is all about aligning with what people want.
So the hardest part of business is people, not just the people I deal with, but myself, my own wants, or my own ego.
4. What is a typical day like for you? Do you have a morning routine?
Morning routine? I stay in my bed, read, listen to podcasts, participate in discussions, answer E-mails. I use the time to reflect and meditate then I make coffee and execute my task list.
5. What do you like the best about your job? Is there anything
you don’t like?
For me it’s the little things. I was once so caught up in my own BS that a friend of mine gave me a hug out of nowhere.
I asked him why he did that and he explained that I looked like I needed a hug. It’s little things like that makes us endearing. Also discovery, the discovery of self that happens because business can be hard even when you’re being successful.
6. Do you have a
favourite style of visual art or favourite artist and why?
I still remember the 1st time I saw Akira and my mind was blown. I had to watch it another 10 times to understand it, but my mind was gone. Every year I’d visit he’d introduce me to new anime. After Akira I saw Ghost in the Shell and then came Street Fighter. Then my cousin introduced me to Dragon Ball (before Z even existed, showing my age) and I’ve been growing up and learning alongside Goku ever since. So Akira Toriyama is an early influence for me, later on came Jim Lee, and Joe Madureira when I got introduced to western comics.
Right now I follow many artists on Instagram but only JunGi Kim is god right now. The fact that he can just draw so freely from his mind is amazing.
7. Thanks to social media platforms like Instagram, artists are now able to showcase their work online and reach a wider audience. Do you feel this is more beneficial or can be a hindrance?
It can be a hindrance if you don’t know how to leverage it. It’s also a hindrance when artists think about getting paid by the hour instead of passive income.
Social Media is like an art gallery with an infinite reach.
8. On the CreativeUTO site, one of your reasons for creating this business incubator
system, is to conduct Research & Development on the relationship between art, homelessness and mental health. For those who aren’t aware, what is the relationship between these three?
The starving artist. A Creative Unicorn is an artist who managed to monetize their creations and made it available to move the community forward. Someone like Mark Zuckerberg is a Creative Unicorn and a Unicorn in the business world. As Unicorns we spend a lot of time in isolation, it contributes to our mental health, and because the world around us is very linear we risk getting eliminated because we think so abstract. The internet has changed this but the world at large needs to catch up.
9. You are gearing up for The Annex Art Party in August – could you describe this event a bit more in detail?
The Annex Art Party started after working business development for Free Geek Toronto. It was part of our business strategy to attend as many events as we could. At some point we realized that there are many social enterprises out there who can’t afford large events and they could benefit from sharing table or space. When my contract at Free Geek ran out, doing #TAAP was a natural progression, except I focused it on artists as opposed to social enterprises. The purpose of The Annex Art Party is to bring together a community and give emerging artists a platform to present and sell their art.
10. What advice would you give to someone who is starting a creative business?
Mentors! People who are in positions of success. Listen to everyone and take the whole thing into consideration but understand someone who makes a dollar can’t teach you how to make 2 dollars. Focus on your strengths because if you work on your weaknesses then you’ll have very good weaknesses. Surround yourself with people you don’t have to command, know the difference between self-employment and business ownership. Two completely different approaches!
Lastly, consistency, regardless of how bad the presentation, is very key.