Art can be a job

Art Job

***Originally published in KaLeo Newspaper****

Bobby Bergonio, Staff Writer

Designers and artists entering the job market face a daunting task, but the Iwilei Creative Program strives to be the big break that these students need. This free three-month program is a creative incubator for designers to meet and build relations with professionals in the business.

Graphic designers Matt Heim, Scott Kawamura and University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa alumnus James Charisma have collaborated on this project to help artists gain experience and knowledge of the industry. Sumner LLC, in association with HonBlue and Electric Pencil, will allot a portion of their Nimitz facility to house the incubator and allow students a conference room, individual workspaces and a creative bullpen.

“We wanted design students to hone their own skills and meet local industry contacts, which can be potential clients and potential employers,” Charisma said.


The Iwilei Creative Program will accept four to eight students to participate in weekly workshops and collaborate with designers, writers and photographers in order to develop their talents in marketable ways. Not only will they utilize their artistic skills, but the students will also learn many business concepts – from budgets to cost projections – to be mindful of the costs and profits of the creative industry.

“A lot of time, people have experience in Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Suite, but they don’t necessarily have experience working with a budget or working on a timeline and turning the creative process into a marketable business,” Charisma explained.

Graduates of the program will not only gain valuable work experience and certification, but also a network of professional contacts – experts who may be able to provide direction and employment.


Designers will also help launch “Abstract,” a local arts and culture magazine aimed toward 18-35-year-old college students and post-graduates. According to Charisma, “Abstract” will mainly focus on the “ever-changing contemporary urban landscape of Hawai‘i.”

Students of the program will be in charge of its production from start to finish, creating content, developing layouts, choosing fonts and adjusting colors. They will experience the trials and triumphs that designers, writers or photographers face as they bring the magazine to publication.

A launch party for “Abstract” will be held in March and give students a chance to network with potential clients, associates and future employers while gaining sponsorship for the publication to self-sustain in the future.

“The magazine really is just a pride that comes out of it,” Charisma said. “The main thing is to create an incubator to help educate the next new generations of design students.”

For more information on the program, contact Charisma at



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