Voliton encourages African Americans working in the creative area to focus more on ideas, concepts, strategy and branding.
BY J.A. JONES, Staff Writer
CLEARWATER– Visual and performing artists, marketing executives and CEOs, creative and artistic directors descended on St. Petersburg College’s EpiCenter Aug. 23 to discuss “The Art of Marketing & Branding – From Advocacy to Impact.”
Pinellas County aims to brand itself as an “Extraordinary Arts and Cultural Destination.” Presented by the Tampa Bay Businesses for Culture and the Arts, Downtown Clearwater-CRA, Creative Pinellas, and the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, the event discussed methods for building new audiences and creating new partnerships.
Keynote speaker Bahia Ramos from New York City’s Wallace Foundation spoke about leading the Foundation’s $150 million initiative to develop arts audiences. Other speakers included Eric Blankenship, vice president of marketing, Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment, Stephanie Gularte, CEO and artistic director for American Stage, Akiko Kotani, 2019 Creative Pinellas Artist Laureate & Professor Emerita of Art and Steve Weinberger, CEO of Clearwater Jazz Holiday Foundation.
Bryan Voliton, creative director of Beach and Main, shared information both as a creator, and entrepreneur who works with other creatives.
“I represent artists and I’m an artist myself. You do have to invest a lot of time into how you’re going to present yourself – everything is marketing. Figuring out your story, and how you’re going to tell that story is the most important part of the process.”
Raised in North Greenwood, Clearwater, Voliton built his career in advertising in Atlanta, Texas and Las Vegas. Holding down a career in advertising for any amount of time is no small feat for African Americans; the representation numbers for blacks are bleak.
Still a predominantly white industry, the 2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers for advertising, public relations and related services showed that out of 629 reported jobs, 85 percent were held by whites, 47.5 percent by women, 10 percent by Latinx, 8.5 percent by Asians — and blacks were dead last, holding a measly 5 percent of positions.
Voliton attested to those abysmal numbers from his own experience.
“The first thing you notice is that there’s not a lot of us,” he shared in a later phone interview. “Especially in prominent positions. It’s a good ol’ boys network still, so there’s a lot to be done because they’re not putting a lot of effort into finding black people to fill certain spots in advertising.”
He also noted that African Americans have work to do in order to create a market for their creativity.
“I think a lot of times we’re not looked at as the creative thinkers because we’re still looked at as the entertainers.” He encouraged African Americans working in the creative area to focus more on ideas, concepts, strategy and branding.
Through Beach And Main, Voliton helps creatives build and grow their businesses — which includes helping them to reach their target market. Beach And Main’s other services include creating “Brand Identity Elements” including logos, print materials, social media marketing, web design and maintenance, and promotional videos.
Voliton also helms the Being Unmanageables collective, which he created when he was fired from his day job for being an “unmanageable” creative. He now thinks of it as “a blessing in disguise.”
Working within the social media economy to spread his gospel of personal storytelling-to-self-actualization, Voliton and partner Robert Rostick host the Raising Unmanageables podcast and streaming show.
Of course, community is still a large part of Voliton’s drive, and along with a handful of other North Greenwood natives, he’s recently formed Greenwood Grove, an organization focusing on economic empowerment and community revitalization in the area.
To learn how you can get involved, visit them on Facebook, or email GreenwoodGroveCLW@gmail.com for more information.
To reach J.A. Jones, email firstname.lastname@example.org.