Everything But The Art – 2021

This weekly live course welcomes new students to join upcoming classes. Class recordings from previous weeks are made available to new enrollments.

From portfolio development to grant writing and everything in between, this course helps creatives unpack the nuts and bolts of navigating a career as a working artist. Everything But The Art: The Business of Creativity is a five-week course which covers everything you need to build a foundation for your future. Each class features a different expert in the fields of arts administration, funding, and creative development. By the end of this course, you will build a comprehensive framework to present your work, promote your digital presence, fund your projects, and sustain your practice.

Course Logistics

Dates: Tuesdays, Feb 23 – March 23, 2021
Times: 12pm – 1:30pm PST
Cost: $300 for a five week course – We also offer Diversity Scholarships, find out more here.
Experience Level: This course welcomes emerging artists to mid-career looking to develop their professional development.
• Computer with an internet connection
• All course materials will be provided for students.

Course Outline

2/23 – Portfolio Development: Taught by Mirabelle Jones
3/02 – How to Write Effective Grants and Residency Applications: Taught By Ram Devineni and Niki Selken
3/09 – Digital Presence for Creatives: Taught by Niki Selken and Sarah Vickers-Webb
3/16 – The Business Of You: Taught by Ruby Lerner
3/23 – Group Panel Q&A

Course Access

Unlimited access to the full class recording is available to all enrolled students. Whether you couldn't make it to class or want to refresh on some of the concepts, Gray Area will provide all enrolled students with a direct link.

Portfolio Development

Week 1 – Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Instructor: Mirabelle Jones
This class will cover the basics of developing a quality professional portfolio, including writing a CV, bio, artist statement, and press release along with exploring funding, residencies and exhibition options and best practices. Along the way, we'll hear rare insights from working artists, curators, and gallerists around the world about how artists can achieve their goals and strengthen their presence in the arts. This class is taught by Mirabelle Jones, a creative technologist who was most recently Senior Designer/Developer at Meow Wolf.

Show Me the Money! How to Write Effective Grants and Residency Applications

Week 2 – Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Instructor: Ram Devineni and Niki Selken
Writing proposals to grants and residencies to fund your art practice may feel daunting, but it can be a crucial step to support your creative practice. We demystify the process and go over some best practices of this necessary skill to help you gain confidence in your fundraising and proposal writing abilities. Learn how to incorporate fundraising and proposal writing into your artistic practice, gain first insight to what reviewers look for in applications, and how to find grant, residency, and fellowship opportunities.
This class is taught by Ram Devineni, Producer of Priya’s Shakti and Rattapallax Films, and Niki Selken, Creative Development Director at Gray Area.

Digital Presence for Creatives: SEO to Social Media

Week 3 – Tuesday, March 9, 2021
Instructor: Niki Selken and Sarah Vickers-Webb
With the ubiquity of digital platforms, it's easier than ever to build an audience with tools from social media to an online portfolio. But if you’re looking to get ahead of the curve, it’s time to find new marketing strategies to support your practice online. Whether you want to sell artwork, emerge as a creative thought leader, or simply bump up the search ranking for your creative content, SEO optimization and holistic digital marketing strategies can help support your work. Digital Marketing Strategist Sarah Vickers-Webb, who specializes in non-profit and technology sectors, and Gray Area‘s Creative Development Director Niki Selken will teach this class.

The Business Of You: Time, Treasure, Throng, Trajectory

Week 4 – Tuesday, March 16, 2021
Instructor: Ruby Lerner
In this final class, you will learn how to build a foundation to financially prepare yourself as a working artist. This session covers the benefits of taking control of your time, your financial resources (your treasure), your own audience (your throng), and your career (your trajectory). By understanding your financial health, defining your professional goals, and developing a plan to sustain your practice, you’ll be well on your way towards a more fulfilling, creative future. This class is taught by Ruby Lerner, Founding Executive Director of Creative Capital, an innovative arts foundation that adapts venture capital concepts to support individual artists.

Group Panel Q&A

Week 5 – Tuesday, March 23, 2021
The last session in this series will be a Q and A with the five instructors. Student will have a chance to get feedback and insights on their work and career questions.

Scholarships For Creatives

To help creators of all backgrounds reach their goals, we are proud to offer scholarships to sustain and advance an inclusive community at Gray Area and beyond. This scholarship is for outstanding students from diverse backgrounds that are underrepresented in higher education and the fields of art, design, and technology. Recipients will receive a full or partial scholarship for the course.

Apply for this scholarship by Wednesday February 17, 2021.


Mirabelle Jones

Mirabelle Jones (they / them) is a creative technologist and interdisciplinary artist from Oakland currently living in Copenhagen. Recently, they served as a Senior on Meow Wolf‘s interactive technology team with a specialization in immersive storytelling using sensors, computer vision, and responsive lighting and sound. They are the founder of Art Against Assault, a grassroots organization which promotes works by survivors to raise funds for national resources. They speak regularly at arts institutions like The School of the Art Institute in Chicago and Maryland Institute College of the Arts about the intersection of technology, social justice, and the arts. Their works have been acquired by the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, the Center on Contemporary Art, the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, Syracuse University, the University of California Berkeley, as well as many other institutions. They have held residencies at Women’s Studio Workshop, KALA Arts Institute, Hive Gallery, Codame Labs, Arts Everywhere and Unit One. Their works have been exhibited internationally including most recently the Museum Meermanno, The Center for Performance Research and the Finnish National Opera and Ballet. Their performances and visual works have been heralded by the Huffington Post, ArtNet, Bustle, ATTN, Refinery29, Inquisitr, Mic., Sleek Magazine, Feminist Magazine, Google and Yahoo News, Deutsche Welle, and on the cover of the Berliner Zeitung. They possess an MFA in Book Art and Creative Writing from Mills College and a BA in Language Arts from the University of Santa Cruz informing their world building process as a creator.

Niki Selken

Niki Selken 👩🏻‍💻 (she/her) is an artist, technologist and educator. Niki spent over a decade working across game design, physical computing, experimental theatre, interaction design and education. As a designer and technologist, Niki focused on working with nonprofits and small businesses in the inclusion and social impact space (Ms. Foundation, Girls Write Now, LYRIC, Hesperian Health Guides) and as an educator, she taught a range of creative coding courses in both New York and San Francisco. A graduate of Parsons School of Design, Niki has taught at her alma mater, at St. Joseph's College in Brooklyn, at the University of San Francisco, at the Bay Area Video Collective and at Gray Area—where she is the Creative Development Director and manages the artist incubator and creative code education programs. Niki's work has been featured by Yahoo Tech, Buzzfeed, Make Magazine and Adafruit, among others. Niki identifies as Latina and hails from a long line of Mexican artists and craftsmen.

​Ram Devineni

Ram Devineni is creator of the augmented reality social-activist comic books, “Priya’s Shakti,” featuring India’s first female superhero and named “gender equality champion” by UN Women.  

Ruby Lerner

Ruby Lerner is the founding Executive Director of Creative Capital, an innovative arts foundation that adapts venture capital concepts to support individual artists. Under her leadership, Creative Capital committed more than $40 million in financial and advisory support to 511 projects representing 642 artists. This commitment helped those artists leverage nearly $100 million in additional support. She stepped down from the organization in June 2016 to pursue consulting work and independent research. Prior to Creative Capital, Ruby Lerner served as the Executive Director of the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers (AIVF) and as Publisher of the highly regarded Independent Film and Video Monthly. Having worked regionally in both the performing arts and independent media fields, she served as the Executive Director of Alternate ROOTS, a coalition of Southeastern performing artists, and IMAGE Film/Video Center, both based in Atlanta. In the late 1970s, she was the Audience Development Director at the Manhattan Theatre Club, one of New York's foremost nonprofit theaters. In May 2016, Lerner was awarded honorary doctorate degrees from the Maryland Institute College of Art and Maine College of Art. In 2017, Lerner was the inaugural Herberger Institute Senior Policy Advisor at Arizona State University and Innovator-in-Residence at CalArts. For 2018 she is serving as Advisor to the Arts Exchange Program of the Open Society Foundation, assisting in the design of a new Fellowship Program for international artists. She recently joined the Advisory Boards of New INC at the New Museum and Eyebeam, and was appointed to the Board of Directors at the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.


Sarah Vickers-Webb

Sarah Vickers-Webb is a digital marketing strategist based in Santa Cruz, California, with a background in law and cultural criticism. Sarah uses their expertise in SEO, writing marketing copy, and eye for trends to create online and social media content and campaigns to create brand awareness, drive traffic to clients’ websites and improve search engine rankings. They produces, edits, and writes content for Santa Cruz Tech Beat, and is also the content manager and lead writer for Emoji Foundation. Past clients include 1440 Multiversity, Wildflower Financial, and MadJacks Snowsports.

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