Winning or Losing?
Poised for the end
Eve of glory?
There is the possibility of being one of three winning companies to get an audience with students at the university’s business school—students who form teams to figure out the means to take my press-making venture to the next level. Six months ago I launched my final year in this venture, knowing that I could not—and should not—continue manning it as a proprietor.
The first six months were given to exploring the range of possibilities—from the making of a Print Maker Faire to working one-on-one with individual printmaking enthusiasts both locally and far away. I introduced a new, less costly model of the Halfwood Press, also trying the Plasteel concept. I found help in a graphic artist, and bought into print advertising in the Journal of the Print World, plus I reserved a booth at an upcoming printmaking conference.
Yesterday, I applied for consideration by the Business Impact Group (BIG), a program in which teams of business majors work with faculty and consultants to solve problems faced by small businesses. If my business is selected, then I will get to meet with the team and they will work on finding and giving advice. I am hopeful, but not over confident, that Emeralda Works will be accepted for their teamwork.
It could be the eve of the year’s Big Break.
Eve of Doom?
As I filled out the form, several things nagged at me. I have written business plans for over 15 years, annually trying to shape my vision into a viable business. Yet, it never works out. I am especially bothered by a sense there is no desire on the part of very many people for what I offer—any more than there was when I had my position at the university.
I believe I was suited for the position of a professor in a major research university because I did real research in my field—fine art printmaking. I learned the history and application of the techniques, and then I looked toward the future as to what was likely to be the nature of printmaking ten, twenty and thirty years into the future.
Today, my forecasts have come true. What it might have meant to students in the 1980s was lost, however, as the administration and faculty refused to consider my vision to be valid and they made it clear they wanted nothing to do with a multimedia curriculum based on printmaking. I had to resign to be true to myself and true to those who believed in me enough to support me.
For almost thirty years I have kept my dream—and my faculties—alive with the vision of a “perfect studio.” However, like an artist working alone, it has been a lonely process. I have had support from co-workers in many phases of developing my quest for the Perfect Studio—other artists, museum people, gallery owners, engineers, and crafts people. Also I have had customers for the products of my experiments, discoveries and designs. In a few instances, I have had support for the most creative of my ideas—distance learning for printmaking using serious games as part of the medium of conveyance.
Not in the business plan
In all the years I wrote my business plans, it was with this ultimate goal in mind: A company where teaching, research, production and service were continuous, seamless and concurrent. Sustainability is the key to this business plan. However, the research behind the plan is the kind of substance that makes university-level thinking what it is and what gives a university a reputation as a major research institution.
My business plan is no less than the transformation of the printmaking curriculum I promoted in 1984! Therefore, when I put forward my business plan to the business school, it is dummied-down so that one product is presented as the core of the business, not the entire package.
For example, the etching press has a flash memory drive built in, and this is symbolic of putting my whole self into my invention. For distance learning, and to give printmaking the reach it can have worldwide, the PressGhost, so called, unleashes the power of the press and gives users a threshold unknown to the brick-and-mortar institutions.
I compare my business concept to the Teaching Company. However, to read the business plan I am prepared to submit, this is lost—or at least, hidden from view. Yet it is there, in my mind, every day, and always will be whether the BIG program sees it or not.