Catherine Watson and Sabra Morman are the team behind "The Dissertation." It's difficult to define what exactly the Dissertation is – even when it was explained to you by one of the founders. But here goes.
The Dissertation is a blog
. It is an arts portfolio. It is an online store
. It is an art project
that can be found this year at ArtPrize
in Grand Rapids (Sept. 18-Oct. 6). It was even going to be a brick and mortar teashop, but Watson and Morman ultimately decided against it.
"We wanted to have a physical space to connect with like-minded others and we started studying holistic lifestyles and tea," says Watson. "But we're holding off on that because we're not really sure how financially stable it would be."
Ultimately the Dissertation is potentially a DIY arts career in the making. "Initially we just wanted a creative expression outlet to figure out what we want to do," says Watson, who previously worked at an ad agency. "It morphed together and we pursued everything. We use it as a teaching tool for ourselves…and to figure out different ways to bring in different streams of revenue. We really want to make a living doing this."
To clarify, "this" is art and the Dissertation is an artists' portfolio. "We started off by creating a portfolio of artwork. We wanted to use that to shed light and highlight the struggles of our generation. The goal was to use the blog as motivation, a tool for positive growth capturing the entrepreneurial spirit of the city."
At ArtPrize, the Dissertation has a mixed-media installation piece on display. (You can vote for the Dissertation here
starting Sept. 18.) After ArtPrize, their focus is on how to turn their portfolio into a profitable business. They are already working with fashion designers to put their designs on T-shirts to sell in stores, in addition to selling art prints through their Etsy site
Both Watson and Morman still work part time jobs as they continue to define and grow the Dissertation, but their DIY efforts at transforming a hobby and personal passion into a portfolio and profitable business by starting on a micro level, as opposed to rushing into a big brick-and-mortar investment, is an interesting cultural experiment if nothing else. Can it work? It's probably too soon to tell, but if it's going to work anywhere, it will be in Detroit.
Source: Catherine Watson, co-founder of the Dissertation
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg
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