Venture Studio 2017-2018

The Venture Studio, with support from the University of Chicago's Chicago Innovation Exchange and Kickstarter, examines contemporary art and design entrepreneurship. The first of its kind at SAIC, the year-long course will provide instruction and resources for student project teams to research and develop artworks, objects, environments, systems, and services for Kickstarter funding campaigns. Some works might become new businesses! Class work culminates in candidate projects being reviewed for business incubation at the Chicago Innovation Exchange and some go on to receive funding from SAIC's MakeWork Venture Fund to grow their own businesses. 

The course is co-taught by Pablo Garcia, Assistant Professor in Contemporary Practices, and Sharon Burdett, Lecturer in AIADO. Both Garcia and Burdett are veterans of successful Kickstarter campaigns and bring that expertise to this innovative course. Garcia’s NeoLucida is a modern reinterpretation of the camera lucida, a 19th century optical drawing aid. The fundraising campaign was a runaway success, raising over $400,000 to produce 15,000 devices. Burdett, co-founder of Strand Design in Chicago, created the Fourneau Oven, a cast iron bread maker designed for perfect bread in your home oven. Crowdfunding was a success and new Fourneau Ovens will be shipped out this fall to campaign supporters.

Fournau by Sharon Burdett. Photo by Strand Design

The Venture Studio takes advantage of SAIC’s diverse, multidisciplinary structure: students from all over the school will participate, regardless of media or practice. The course takes as a foundational premise that all creative practices benefit from self-directed entrepreneurship. Painters, performers, designers, writers all must learn how to address an audience to grow. Kickstarter campaigns require clear statements of purpose, believable goals, and a “pitch” to get people on board. The Venture Studio gives students their first taste of self-reliance by building actual campaigns for a mass audience.