Columbia College Chicago

Collaborations

“One of our artists … just got picked to have her product line shown by Free People Clothing and Urban Outfitters.”

Student Artists Gain Real-World Business Experience through ShopColumbia

Since opening in 2008, ShopColumbia has provided invaluable real-world experience in marketing, distributing and licensing art to more than 600 student artists.

Visit ShopColumbia

ShopColumbia is an on-campus store that carries zines, clothing, fine art, photography and more, all created by Columbia students.

“The core of ShopColumbia is to help students learn how to market their work and brand themselves,” says Tracey Drobot, ShopColumbia’s operations coordinator.

Since opening in 2008, ShopColumbia has provided invaluable real-world experience in marketing, distributing and licensing art to more than 600 student artists.

Now In Stores!

Students and recent alumni from any major are eligible to have their work featured in ShopColumbia. To be considered, artists submit an application and samples of their work. A jury of staff and faculty determines whether the work is accepted and, if appropriate, provides applicants with feedback on how to improve the art’s presentation and marketing.

When Interdisciplinary Arts alum Scott Dickens MFA ’14 applied to have his work in the shop, he found the experience rewarding. After he incorporated the jury’s constructive feedback into his stickers and T-shirts, his work was accepted into the store. “It was very easy, very smooth,” he says of the process.

Building a Business with ShopColumbia’s Help

While Dickens was busy working on his MFA, he didn’t have a lot of time to devote to his craft business; ShopColumbia helped do some of that work for him. “My work definitely got a lot of exposure,” he says. “I started up my own little business website and all of that. Having [my work] in ShopColumbia allowed me to reach a new audience every week and every month while still allowing me time to maintain my studies.”

Business and Entrepreneurship alum Peter Gaona ’14 creates bow ties from found materials, and his work found its way into multiple ShopColumbia displays. (After a campus facilities manager noticed that Gaona was using leather in his work, he offered him a bundle of leather scraps, saving Gaona on productions costs.) Thanks to ShopColumbia, Gaona expanded his own Etsy-based business and fine-tuned his artistry.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to get feedback from fashion professionals and other arts professionals on what you’re doing,” he says. “My product has grown so much since getting that initial feedback from the [ShopColumbia] jury.”

The Start of Something Unique

Assistant Director of Department of Exhibition and Performance Spaces Ronda Payne helps students build up their business acumen while their work is sold at ShopColumbia. Some enterprising students, like Dickens, build a business beyond the shop, and a few lucky entrepreneurs end up working with some big names in the retail industry.

“One of our artists just pulled all her work out of the shop because she just got picked up to have her product line shown by Free People Clothing and Urban Outfitters,” says Payne. “We’ve had a lot of really great success stories.”

Formerly located at 623 S. Wabash Ave., ShopColumbia is opening at 619 S. Wabash Ave. in March 2017.


Ready to Apply?

We’re happy you’re thinking of joining our creative community. We work hard to make our application process as simple and fast as possible, but should you run into any concerns, we're here to help at any time.

Looking for an event near you?

If you can’t make it to campus, don’t worry! We have a full schedule of events all across the U.S. and around the world.

×