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To provide educational resources to help aspiring artists gain the entrepreneurial knowledge and skills needed to establish and maintain a career as an independent artist.



Annual SEA Conference - The event is held the end of February. The annual conference brings together successful self-employed artists in the visual, performing, literary, and media arts with college students, serious high school students, and community artists.  Through interactive workshops, artist led sessions, panel discussions, keynote presentations, mock auditions, and one-on-one mentoring sessions attendees learn about a variety of business issues facing independent artists.  Topics vary each year but often include pricing, marketing, bookkeeping, copyrights, licensing, publishing, exhibiting, auditioning, and much  more.  Additional activities include a juried college art exhibit, a create room sponsored by Blick Art Materials, gallery reception, an improved Creative Pitch Competition with over $3,000 in prizes and more. Due to Covid-19, there will be no in-person conference February 2021.


Regional Events:

Regional events are held throughout the country and are usually one or two day  events with similar activities to that of the annual conference.  Locations have included:

  • CEO Global Conference - SEA Track: The CEO Conference is held the end of October / early November. Visit their website for dates and location of the next event.



The website contains a vast amount of free resources including articles and links to useful sites in addition to information about the various SEA events and conferences.

Additional Programming:

Throughout the year, SEA partners with other organizations and campuses to provide additional programming such as panel discussions - "Making it in the Arts" and "I'm graduating with an arts degree - now what?" as well as Artist Business Talks. For a list of available Artist Business Talk presenters, click HERE. For special 2020-21 virtual programming, please lick HERE.


History of SEA:

SEA started as a way to fill the need of art students who had been trained how to create but not what to do with that creation.  In 1998, SEA founder Dr. Gary Ernst developed a series of videos called The Entrepreneurial Artist.  These videos captured a variety of artists and focused on the business issues that they faced.  Response to these videos was so overwhelming that the next step was to actually bring these artists together face to face with college students.  In 2000, the first SEA Conference was held at Columbia College in Chicago with about 100 attendees from 5 different schools.  Twenty years later, we have reached thousands of creatives from more than 100 schools. On average we have over 350 attendees from more than 40 different schools at our annual conference.



SEA is housed at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois.  Primary funding is provided by The Coleman Foundation of Chicago.  Additional sponsors include the John E. and Jeanne T. Hughes Charitable Foundation, Blick Art Materials, Millikin University, Beloit College, Guident Business Solutions, DePaul University, Band for Today, Illinois State University's George R. and Martha Means Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Ace Metal, and private donors.


SEA is also supported in part by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.


Participating Schools (Annual Conference attendees):

Schools that have participated in the past include:

Alverno College (WI), American Academy of Art (IL), Anderson University (IN), Beloit College (WI), Bradley University (IL), California State University Fresno (CA), Canisius College (NY), Cogswell College, College of DuPage (IL), College of Lake County (IL), Colorado Mesa University (CO), Columbia College Chicago (IL), Concordia University (IL), DePaul University (IL), Dickison State University (SD), Drury University (MO), Eastern Michigan University (MI), Elgin Community College (IL), East Central College, Eastman School, Elmhurst College, Finlandia University (MI), Grand Valley State University (MI), Harold Washington College (IL), Harper College (IL), Illinois Institute of Technology (IL), Illinois State University (IL), Joliet Junior College (IL), Juniata College, Kansas City Art Institute (KS), Kennedy King College (IL), Lawrence Technological University (MI), Lawrence University (WI), Lindenwood University, Millikin University (IL), Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (WI), Morningside College (IA), Northern Illinois University (IL), Northern State University (SD), North Central College (IL), North Park University (IL), Oakton Community College (IL), Olivet Nazarene University (IL), Patrick entry College, Quincy University (IL), Saint Louis University (MO), Trinity Christian (IL), University of Chicago (IL), University of Illinois Chicago (IL), University of Michigan (MI), University of St. Francis (IL), University of Wisconsin - Whitewater (WI), University of Wisconsin - Milwuakee (WI), University of Wisconsin - Madison (WI), Upper Iowa University (IA), Valparaiso University (IN), Waubonsee Community College (IL), Wayne State University (MI), Webster University (MO), Western Illinois University (IL), Western Kentucky University (KY), and Wichita State University (KS).



If you would like to use our logo please contact our offices and we will be happy to e-mail you a logo in the appropriate format .  Additionally, we have a variety of images including headshots of presenters as well as photos of past conference activities that may be used in conjunction with a story.  



SEA Conference
Director, Amy Rogers
C/o North Central College
30 N. Brainard St. Box 365
Naperville, IL 60540
P:  630/637-5468