Soon to be Grads Blend Business with Creative Entrepreneurship

“I am a lot of things,” said Cory Clarke. “I’m a musician, vocal artist, and I do a lot of things on the side of production such as media and digital arts. I would call myself an independent artist-entrepreneur, which is what I think you have to be now if you want to work in the creative industry.” Cory is set to graduate in May with a minor in arts leadership and administration.

While his energy and talent are all his own, Cory credits his studies with LEAP for some of the skills needed to combine his creative side with a good business sense. “At the very least,” he said, “you have to be self-managing,” regarding that balance. Cory appreciates that LEAP offers skills to enable that. “Businesses are looking more to creatives to do the work they need. The future of business,” he said, “is a combination of the arts and business, of free and structured thinking to find new solutions.” According to Cory, he has really tried to maximize that experience and make it his own.

Born in Golden, Colorado, Cory came to Colorado State University to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Organizations and Innovations Management. He enrolled in the LEAP minor because he discovered it would reinforce some of his business classes. “The business/art collaborative effort is beneficial for me with what I want to do as a self-employed, independent artist,” he said. “I also wanted to meet more creatives, which led me over to the University Center for the Arts,” where many LEAP classes are held. “It’s so cool being a business student that gets to go to the UCA—to the creative side of the university, like the art galleries,” he added.

Cory found his internship experience with LEAP particularly valuable. He worked under the mentorship of his business partner at his own company, Kind Dub, to learn a new range of skills. “My company landed a bid to do video work for Whiskey Blanket at Red Rocks Ampitheatre, which is going to be really huge for us,” he said. His internship involved “more of the IT side of the company and web design.” Cory has additionally been working on a snowboard line for his company as part of his internship. “LEAP was accommodating to help me work it out so I can have an internship that fit in my current work and interests,” Cory said.

Regarding his course work, Cory says that he particularly liked being involved in hands-on projects like the Mini Maker Faire at Rocky Mountain Innosphere. “It was cool being involved in that,” he said. “It catered to the things I’m interested in, like marketing.” Cory was tasked with making a video about the event that was used to promote it. “I got to do a lot of marketing in town for this project, which I think shows that I was able to use my business experience in a different way and expand on the topics we were learning in our curriculum.”

After graduation, Cory plans to “travel and keep pursuing, art, music, business, design, and production.” After that, he hopes to open up an art and recording studio. “I’m going to keep growing Kind Dub with my business partners and create jobs, not to just find a job. I want to make positive change through art." Cory finds it a big challenge, “to try and create my own work and ideas.” But, he says he loves the challenge and “everything it brings.”

Cory believes that his minor in LEAP will help him meet that challenge. “It made me look at things in a different way,” he said, including how he embraces his creative work within the community. “It made me look at my approach and my execution of projects and creative ventures differently,” said Cory. “It was awesome to take a step back and see other people’s perspectives from so many different art disciplines.”