June 2018

By Tony Sobota

Toby Sobota is a Nashville-based visual artist whose most recent series reimagines the rapid development of Nashville as works of art. Tony is a 2017 graduate of the Periscope: Artist Entrepreneur Training program and received the Pitch Perfect award at the culminating Pitch event. Find out more about Tony and his work at www.tonysobota.com.

I didn’t start painting so that I could spend my time talking about painting. In fact, I hated talking about my work. But if I wanted both my art and business to grow in the DIY age, I knew I needed more than the right paint and the right brushes—I needed the right words.

Enter the Arts & Business Council’s Periscope: Artist Entrepreneur Training program, an intensive interactive workshop series that provides artists with an overview approach to business. While Periscope isn’t tailored for every artist at every level, I found the experience eye-opening. I felt the biggest impact personally during my preparation for the program’s most visible event: Periscope Pitch Night.

On Pitch Night, a selected group of Periscope artists had five minutes to share their work in front of a panel of judges and 100+ business professionals—with awards (and prize money) on the line. The competitive nature of the event, along with not wanting to look silly, forced me to dig deep and face the words behind my work.

After hours and weeks of preparation (and a lot of help), I finally knew how to tell my story. I made it through my presentation without mumbling too much, and to my surprise I somehow managed to receive top honors! In eight weeks, I moved from hating words to embracing them. Valuing this process has helped me define my work to potential curators, buyers, residencies, grant opportunities, and corporate clients, while giving me the clarity I needed to embark on a new body of work.

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