why attend an SEA event?...

SEA events are a whirlwind of information providing you with connections, resources, and knowledge to help you succeed as a self-employed artist. While you won't leave an expert, you will leave with a better grasp of business concepts, ideas for "next steps," and a lot of inspiration.


Each conference is unique but all provide you an opportunity to learn and engage with practicing artists, educators, community leaders, and emerging artists. Activities may include artist led sessions, panel disucssions, keynote speakers, round table discussions, mentoring opportunities, performances, and plenty of networking.


Watch the video on the right to hear why fashion designer Ping Wu attended the SEA Conference many years ago and why she believes it is an excellent opportunity not to be missed!


Looking for feedback from the Annual SEA Conference? Click HERE.

In 2017, SEA partnered with Eyes on Your Mission to not only provide a hands-on workshop at the annual conference but also the opportunity for real internship experience. The result? A 5 Part Video Series featuring creatives that have been involved with SEA as well as a series of Why SEA? video snip-its. For more information about Eyes on Your Mission, click HERE.


Leanna Johnson, freelance journalist and cause marketer (Lost Lass)

PRODUCED BY: Nicole Garza (Concordia University Chicago) LOCATION: (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Shifra Whiteman, textile and fashion designer (Shifra Whiteman)
PRODUCED BY: Eric Phillips (Theatre School at Depaul University)
LOCATION: (Second Shift Chicago)

Mike Veny, nationally-acclaimed mental health speaker (Transforming Stigma)
PRODUCED BY: Emily Tilma (Northern State University)
LOCATION: (Future Founders)

Sunny Shah, Duchossois Scholar, emcee, speaker, comedian

(Illinois Inst. of Technology)
PRODUCED BY: Brandon Barnes (North Central College)
LOCATION: (Illinois Inst. of Technology)

Catherine Borzym, branding designer (Kiwi Avenue)
PRODUCED BY: Thomas Johnson (Concordia University Chicago)
LOCATION: (ConVerge-Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at North Central College)



For STUDENTS:  SEA events are a great opportunity to learn from successful artist practicioners as well as network with students from other schools.  Programming is ideal for college students as well as serious high school students.


Here are what some past student attendees have to say about the event they attended:


"This was my first SEA Conference event and it was by far one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had.  I think it's fair to say the SEA Conference is among one of the few singular networking events for the arts in the Midwest."

Nick S. Beloit College, WI


"The conference had an immeasurable effect on my life.  The conference gave me a firm grounding as an artist and business woman.  As a result of the SEA Conference, I was able to land an internship with one of the most respected theaters in Chicago.  Also, I was given support to branch out on my own artistic business."

Lauren Connor, Southern Illinois University


"I believe that every freshman should have to attend the Self-Employment in the Arts Conferences and then again senior year.  I learned a lot of information I only knew a little about, like self-promotion, change and collaboration."

Sarah M., Alverno College, WI




For EDUCATORS:  There are a variety of takeaways for educators.  Many of the faculty enjoy attending the sessions with their students so that they can hear and then discuss the information with them on the drive back to campus or in a class afterwards.  In addition, the conference provides educators the opportunity to network with others who are passionate about arts entrepreneurship education as well as provide ideas to develop curriculum.  Depending on the event, there may also be best practices sessions geared specifically for educators. 


Here are what some educators have to say about the event they attended:


"The SEA conference exposes my students to information they, despite my best efforts, will NEVER get in the classroom.  Real-life experiences from more professionals than could ever come to campus.  This conference is a fledgling artists dream come true."

Paul Frasz, Northern Illinois University


"What an incredible experience!  The workshops were informative and motivating.  The presenters were enthusiastic and obviously knowledgeable.  There are multiple concepts I plan to bring back to the classroom.  I especially value the copyright information and will cover this in-depth with students.  The connections I made with other teachers and businesses will become excellent resources in the future."

Jacquelin Settipani, Schaumburg High School


"I was truly impressed with the SEA Conference.  The ogranization of the event was well thought out and the caliber of the keynote speakers was outstanding.  The topics for the break-out sessions was excellent."

Sally Field Mullan, College of DuPage


"I love being at the SEA Conference.  I speak in a lot of different environments, but the combination of eager young talent and deeply engaged faculty that I rub shoulders with at SEA is both invigorating and encouraging.  Ever since my first time at the event I have told anyone who will listen that every college senior who is launching into a career in the arts should be at this event."

John J. Thompson, EMI CMG Publishing - Nashville, TN


"The previous "Making It In the Arts" conferences have provided St. Olaf students with valuable information and experiences to help them think both concretely and imaginatively about a life in the arts".

Dan Dressen, Associate Dean for the Fine Arts, St. Olaf College




For COMMUNITY ARTISTS:If If you are an artist looking to start an artistic business or take your career to the next level, then an SEA event is a perfect fit.  Even our presenters have commented how much they enjoy attending the other sessions as there are always areas that they can improve upon. 


Here are what some of the artists and presenters have to say about the event they attended:


"The attendees were a delightful group of "sponges".  I have always enjoyed the mentoring process - from both sides.  I learned from the weekend as well.  You certainly gathered a knowledgeable group of presenters!"

Eileen Braun, Ceramic Artist - Atlanta, GA


"SEA is a conference that involves, inspires and informs how art and business come together—definitely a worthwhile experience."

Jennifer McCord, Washington


"I just wanted to thank you for asking me to be a speaker at this year's Self-Employment in the Arts Conference. This is one of the most wonderful experiences I'd had as a documentarian and self-employed artist. This conference was amazing, and I am so honored that I got to be a part of it."

Laura Zinger - Chicago, IL