Tag Archives: tog loft

Tracy Graziani Arts Entrepreneur

Careers in the Arts: Entrepreneurs

by Tracy Graziani

I used to read this design magazine (remember those?) called ReadyMade. It was a quirky diversion from typical magazines because it focused on things we don’t tend to associate with the design industry such as sustainability and DIY projects that discourage consumerism in favor of reuse and repurposing of castaway items. As a lifelong lover of making things with old junk (ask my poor mother about raising me) it was probably my favorite magazine of all time.

They had a regular column titled “How did you get that f@#$%^& awesome job?” I read it religiously. It featured creative people doing sometimes remarkable, and occasionally off the wall things. Who knew someone could make a living with a skeleton shop? And yes, that is a real thing. While I was fascinated by these people I hadn’t yet considered that I could be one of them.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Aside from a period in third grade when I planned to be a princess/cheerleader, as far back as I can remember I planned to be an artist. I didn’t really know exactly what that would look like, and nobody really questioned the idea until I didn’t outgrow the crazy notion. Eventually my parents pushed me to explore some “real jobs.”

I wasn’t super keen on the idea, but it made everyone else feel better about my aspirations when I chose to major in art education in undergraduate school. Turns out I loved teaching, but long story short, I hated working for a school district. I worked on a masters degree, this time in psychology, and I studied creativity theory. I got the offer of a lifetime and at a very young age became an executive in one of the largest museums in the country. There wasn’t a day that I worked at the Detroit Institute of Arts that I didn’t feel honored just to be there.

Life happened though, as it is want to do, and I ended up having to leave the museum due to a divorce-related comedy of errors that is another story unto itself. I found myself in Ohio again, trying to find work in museums or art centers, and working a string of unrewarding jobs along the way. I met my husband, moved to Mansfield, had one last stint in an arts organization, and when that fell apart so did I.

How did I get this f@#$%^& awesome job?

Up to this point I held this limiting belief that the only way I’d make a living as an artist would be to work for some arts institution. With only one employer in my field in Mansfield, now a former employer, my future looked pretty bleak.

Sometimes adversity is opportunity if you choose to see it that way. You’ll never hear me say, “Everything happens for a reason,” because I simply don’t believe that. Life is messy, horrible things happen, and it’s perfectly acceptable to experience the low times for exactly what they are–miserable. BUT–we can’t dwell there.

“Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together.”

Elizabeth Taylor

I took Elizabeth Taylor’s advice and continued to show up at meetings and events, and volunteered more for the causes I cared about.

A friend messaged me and planted a very important seed. She said, “Maybe now is the time to start something of your own.” This began an interesting journey to find my footing and really flesh out an idea that had legs.

Somewhere in the universe you can find this perfect overlap of what you know, what you’re good at, who you are, what you’re passionate about, and what people will pay for. It takes time, reflection, openness, confidence, risk taking, and a bunch of other things that don’t cost a penny, but will tax your soul.

In time I launched Tog Loft. We’re a unique organization that helps photographers of all types to grow in the way that works best for them. Whether you want to take better snapshots of your kids, or plan to transition to becoming a full-time photographer, we help you achieve those goals. It’s incredibly fulfilling work and I’m very proud of our members and what we do in our community.

I also had this side hustle doing public relations, freelance writing, and marketing. I’d never taken it particularly seriously, but at some point I realized that I had a “real business” and maybe I should treat it as such. We took our formerly part-time business full-time and Graziani Multimedia became an agency. We help businesses to grow, and that is such a wonderful privilege.

Yes, you can make a living in the arts

None of it happened overnight, and looking back it’s interesting to see how my career has evolved, and no doubt will continue to do so. As a kid I never would have dreamed that I’d own a digital marketing agency, in part because the internet didn’t really exist then, but also because I lacked exposure to the vast array of cool careers that exist. And I certainly didn’t think about creating something that didn’t exist, like Tog Loft.

As it turns out a combination of education in the arts and psychology is the perfect blend of art and science that makes my mind wired wonderfully for marketing, especially in a digital age. The most important lesson I’ve learned along the way is that sometimes the perfect job will never be posted on a job board. Occasionally it is up to us to make our own luck, and that has made all the difference for me.

All jobs are real jobs

I’d also like to point out that there are many paths that artists take, and sometimes a person’s day job is a means to support their work, but not their creative work. Many a gifted artist have worked non-arts jobs in the post office, as did William Faulkner, as theater managers like Bram Stoker, or even as a stockbroker, like Paul Gauguin. Sometimes art as a job takes the joy out of the work and another job is a better service to the artist.

Whenever I hear someone snark that a foolish college kid is going to end up working in a coffee shop or bartending forever because they chose to pursue the arts I cringe. Many great artists have done just that, and were all the happier for it. I know I am.

Ideas for Empty Nesters Renaissance

Empty Nesting? Three Activities to Occupy Your Free Time

by Colleen Cook

Last week, our President and CEO Mike Miller took his youngest daughter to move into college for the first time. As a mother of tiny people (my kids are under 4 years old), that moment seems very far off, and yet I’m alarmed at how quickly it comes. When I started at the Renaissance, Mike’s daughter Jessica was a middle school student, so it hardly seems possible enough time has passed for her to move into her college dorm.

Perhaps you’re in the same boat as the Millers, empty nesting for the first time with a remarkably open calendar for the first time in two decades. No longer are you tied to the local school sports and music calendar – the band concerts, the soccer games, and carting your people to countless practices and events is all in the rearview mirror. While that’s undoubtedly met with mixed emotions (I can only imagine the wreck I will be as we pull away from our kiddos for the first time, good heavens), it can be invigorating to do what you want to do in your free time for the first time since you brought these people into the world.

Here are our suggestions on three new things to put into your calendar that you probably weren’t doing during the high school years:

1. Get more involved in the community.

How many fun, purposeful, social, philanthropic, and community-oriented events have you said no to in the past decade because you needed to keep your evenings open (or they were already booked up by family things)? Now’s the time to go to the Business After Hours, the Coffee Talks, the Book Readings, the lectures, the local meet-ups. These first years of being a parent of college students is the perfect opportunity to make some new friends, volunteer, and rediscover your interests and your purpose. Join a book club or an affinity group (like our new Symphony Chug, symphonic music meet-up), volunteer at a local non-profit, or be a part of a committee working to make an impact on the community – now’s your moment!

2. Go on dates.

Whether you’re happily married or happily single, you’re free again to go out and enjoy the nightlife in your town. Whether you’re coming to a show or a concert at the Renaissance, or taking advantage of the Wine and Ale Trail, or simply just spending an evening downtown, your time is yours again and you’re free to stay out late with no worries about getting everyone up and out the door in the morning.

3. Take up a new hobby.

Become a master gardener, learn to knit, take an art class, or learn to use that DSLR you bought and still shoot on automatic mode. Refining your skills not only expands your world, it’s a great way to make some new friends (that aren’t only parents of your children’s friends) and explore parts of yourself that have been lying dormant for years.