Publicist. Communicator. Passion promoter.
Their products might be very different, but what about the people behind that brilliant new technology or inspiring work of art? Stephanie Enders has worked with the innovative and creative minds in both the tech and arts worlds, and knows that the old adage “great minds think alike” couldn’t be more true.
“Techs and artists are both focused on creating a product that resonates. They’re driven, smart and make connections the rest of us don’t see,” says Stephanie.
Stephanie started her career promoting and supporting artists as a publicist, but today the Arts and Cultural Management alumna runs in the technology circles, where she handles communications and marketing for Startup Edmonton. She also teaches in the Arts and Cultural Management program at MacEwan, keeping one foot in the arts world and sharing her passion for supporting creatives everywhere.
“ Techs and artists are both focused on creating a product that resonates. They’re driven, smart and make connections the rest of us don’t see.”
“The students I work with are a mix of practicing artists, and then people like me,” she laughs. “I’m not an artist, but I love the arts and want to be of service to artists, the artistic product and the audience. Techs and artists have very similar ambitions. They want to make an impact—and to be able to support them as they work through that process is really a gift.”
When it comes to the creative process, Stephanie says techs and artists share a surprisingly similar approach—one where inspiration often comes from working with those around them.
“Startup Edmonton is at its core a community; a place to learn new skills, build a product and work on your company. Everyone’s in it together, doing their own thing. But then there are a lot of these ‘creative collisions’ where really special moments happen. We get to see cool interactions between people from different companies and areas collaborating on projects and products. And that’s very arts-like, because that cross-collaboration between mediums, or artists at different stages of their careers, is something we see in the fine arts all the time.”
In addition to their shared values in collaboration and community, both sectors require a technical expertise most of us don’t realize or appreciate.
“In both fine art and technology, you need a really strong base in technical proficiency. But sometimes the artist is too shy or humble to talk about the technical skill it takes to create each art piece. On the technology side, it’s sometimes even more difficult for people to understand the skill required to create, because their creations are hidden underneath the stuff we use every day. My role is to showcase and interpret that technical proficiency for the audience to help them appreciate it.”
Stephanie says she also learned something from artists and techs that she is adapting to fit her own career in marketing: their approach to failure.
“At Startup, people are encouraged to ‘fail fast.’ In that context, failure means that you can move on to a new project—that you’ve gone through the process to understand if an idea has value in a particular setting, or for a particular audience. Failure is never a value judgment on the person; it’s just a part of the process. This is something that artists discover really quickly as well—that failure isn’t about self-worth, it’s about the opportunity to explore an idea differently or to try another approach.
“For someone like me in marketing, failure feels like it’s a harder thing to overcome, so to be surrounded by people on both ends of the spectrum, who embrace failure as an opportunity and part of the process, has been pretty awesome-slash-terrifying.”
Stephanie is an alumna of and faculty member in the Arts and Cultural Management program. Find out more at MacEwan.ca/ArtsManagement.