Erinn Langille (BFA 2003) is the coordinator of NSCAD’s Creative Entrepreneurship Lab. The NSCAD alum sat down with NSCAD Advancement staff member, Lyndsey Darling, to discuss the journey that brought her back to NSCAD and how the Creative Entrepreneurship Lab (CEL) can help fill an important gap for emerging artists.
Tell me about your new role at the Creative Entrepreneurship Lab.
As the Coordinator of the CEL, my role involves designing and implementing the workshops, seminars, educational and mentorship programming that we offer to students, alumni, and the broader arts community to develop the skills and confidence they need to commercialize their talents and thrive in a business economy.
How did you get into this line of work? What was your path from graduation until now?
After I graduated from NSCAD, I did a Master degree in Art History at the University of Essex. My plan was to continue in an academic framework and get my PhD but when I completed my Master degree, I realized I needed a break from school. I moved to Toronto and started working. I did everything from waitressing to farming, but I continued to stay engaged in the arts community. I wrote reviews and articles on art, food, women’s issues, among other topics, that were published in various national papers, journals, and magazines. I loved writing and attended artist residencies in Canada and the U.S., connecting the work I was doing to a wider creative community. Eventually, I converted my experience as a participant into a creative directorial role, starting my own artist residency program with a partner in 2013. Based in an Etruscan castle in Tuscany, Italy, artists and writers came from all over the world. I facilitated their experience so they could focus on their creative practice and share their evenings in conversation with other artists and writers. I did this for five years while also working on an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of New Orleans.
When I finished my MFA, I returned to Nova Scotia. I had always wanted to participate again in NSCAD in some kind of capacity. My experience here was so transformative that I wanted to be a part of that experience for other people. When I saw that the CEL coordinator position was available, I jumped at it.
How did your time at NSCAD contribute to your career path?
I’ve always felt most at home amongst artists and I liked the intimacy that NSCAD provided. It offered a safe space for conversation and ideation. I wanted these conversations to continue after graduation and I think this is why I liked artist residencies so much. In my own residency program, I tried to replicate the intimacy and collaboration I felt at NSCAD, building an environment where participants are encouraged to engage with each other about their artmaking. I think a lot of important learning and opportunities come out of this peer-to-peer experience.
What do you like most about working at the Creative Entrepreneurship Lab?
I like that CEL is rife with possibility. In Canada, there is a significant gap for creatives right out of college, who, like myself, loved their art college experience, but still need to work on their skill-building, networking, and career opportunities, particularly in entrepreneurship. They don’t know what’s available to them, how to market or grow their talents, ideas or products, how to find support beyond the college. There is often a long period of feeling like an imposter, where you think you know where you want to go but don’t know how to get there. I think the programming at CEL aims to address this gap, offering participants comprehensive support to launch their post-graduate careers.
What does being a Creative Entrepreneur mean to you?
I didn’t always think of myself as a creative entrepreneur—that moniker can make a lot of artists uncomfortable—but I am increasingly understanding how those two things co-exist; an interest in the arts and participation in a business economy. I think that my role in CEL is to offer opportunities for participants to also appreciate that relationship.
How do you see the Creative Entrepreneurship Lab complementing other organizations that are supporting working artists in Nova Scotia?
I see CEL as a conduit or gateway to increased knowledge about being a creative worker. We are here to illuminate the existing opportunities, and to fill in the gaps in support of creative financial literacy. There is a lot of opportunity for partnership with other organizations that students may or may not be aware of, programs that already support professional development for creatives like those offered by VANS, Craft Alliance Atlantic, Arts Nova Scotia, the various incubators (VOLTA, Ignite Labs), or other business initiatives that they may not currently feel comfortable participating in.
What activities do you have on the horizon at Creative Entrepreneurship Lab that would be of interest to NSCAD alumni and members of the local arts community?
In the winter semester, there will be an intensive program of workshops and lectures about the creative and cultural economy, and a career Expo for Creative Workers featuring the TD Financial Literacy Program for Creative Entrepreneurs. Stay tuned!
What do you think is next for you?
Continuing the development of the Creative Entrepreneurship Lab. I’d like to grow it into a space not only for entrepreneurial development but for early career development for all NSCAD students.
What piece of advice would you give your younger self on your first day at NSCAD?
Don’t be afraid to have a bumpy, non-linear journey. Just because you don’t think you look good on paper, doesn’t mean your life isn’t full of opportunities.