Cool Jobs: ‘Artrepreneur’ Uses Web to Expose World to Artists of Color

Multimedia artist combines passion for artistry with business acumen

Multimedia artist and entrepreneur Najee Dorsey (Photo: Dorsey)

We have good news for you. You can have a cool career and make a good living. No need to choose between loving your job and paying your mortgage. The following profile, part of the BlackEnterprise.com Cool Jobs series, offers a peek into the nuts and bolts, perks and salaries behind enjoyable careers.

WHO: Najee Dorsey

WHAT: Mixed-media Artist, Founder, BlackArtInAmerica.com

ANNUAL SALARY: $100,000

THE GIG: Dorsey, self-proclaimed “artrepreneur,” is a mixed-media artist of paintings and sculptures that have won praise, awards and critical acclaim.  He and his wife, who co-manages his business affairs, make careful decisions about which shows/exhibitions to enter. Often the more prestigious juried shows also come with hefty fees and not to mention costs for travel and lodging. “I’m very particular about what I participate in. You have to be strategic and smart with money decisions,” says Dorsey, who has several pieces of his work featured in the upcoming all-black version of the movie Steel Magnolias.

THE PERKS: Getting paid to pursue a creative passion is a perk in itself, but for Dorsey it also helps to be able to earn a very comfortable living.  He cites a 2008 show as his most memorable because it was his most successful. He sold 13 pieces and considering the fact that much of his work is priced at several thousand dollars, that was a pretty good day.  In 2013, Dorsey has a solo show at the Columbus Museum of Art. Endorsement and praise from a museum is highly coveted by artists.

THE WORKDAY: Dorsey starts each day with a cup of coffee and then goes about his day of business and art. He responds to e-mail and checks in on the site he created two years ago for artists and art lovers BlackArtInAmerica.com. He calls that his baby.  “I don’t have set hours necessarily. My day is like a quilt. I mix in art and business all day,” Dorsey says.

THE ADVICE: “A friend of mine from back home wrote a book about stewardship and there’s a quote in there I repeat to myself all the time: ‘I believe this universe is designed in such a manner that if we put forth the effort, it must yield to us,’ ” Dorsey says. “I believe in that. Work hard and be diligent. Success will come.” He’s learned from business mistakes he made early on and now understands that every artist must have a handle on his or her own business affairs. “Hire professionals as necessary, but understand your own business and know where your money is,” Dorsey says.

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