Lean Artist Chicago

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The world's first startup accelerator for artists is coming to Chicago.
Embark on a mission to disrupt Chicago culture with help from art-world and startup heroes.


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About Lean Artist

Founded by Famous New Media Artist Jeremy Bailey in 2016, Lean Artist is the world's first startup accelerator designed exclusively for artists. Participants receive funding and expert mentorship in startup methods to help conceive of real startups that earn actual revenue but also act as subversive, critical artworks.

For Lean Artist Chicago a cohort of four Chicago-based artists will be selected, their work will culminate in an exhibition and demo day performance at the MCA Chicago alongside Famous New Media Artist Jeremy Bailey in June 2018.

Note: selected artists should be available Nov 12, 13 and Dec 10, 11 (Additional workshop dates TBA)

Meet Your Mentors

Every great startup accelerator has a world class mentorship team. Lean Artist brings together some of the world's most innovative professionals dedicated to empowering your success.

Lean Artist Alumni

Frequently Asked Questions

The MCA has made $3000 available at launch for the whole project. We are applying for, but have not yet received confirmation of funds from the Canada Council for the Arts to help with additional production costs. The status of this grant will be unknown before March 2018.

The accelerator is structured as a series of workshops. Though the purpose is to create companies as critical artworks you will actually learn the fundamentals necessary to generate a successful business. You will learn how to identify a customer and their pain point, ideate and prototype a solution, validate potential pricing, build a successful brand and bring a product to market.

We are looking for applicants that first and foremost have a problem worth solving, ideally a local problem that is socially meaningful to the city of Chicago. Applicants should have 2 to 3 years of experience as a practicing artist and at least some digital production skills. We are seeking non-conformists who see potential outside normal ways of making, who might call themselves activists and who are ready to apply their enthusiasm and energy to something completely new.

The MCA has made their beautiful new education space available for us to use for workshops Sundays and Mondays. Once a month you will attend workshops of up to 8 hours at the MCA. Workshop attendance is a requirement for all participants in the accelerator. You may also be required to complete assignments outside of these specified times but this work will not likely exceed 16 hours a month including workshop commitments.

I'm a new media performance artist and a creative director at FreshBooks, a successful startup in Toronto. I have witnessed first hand how startup culture has prospered to become mainstream culture, even as the arts have been progressively defunded and marginilized. As an artist I have always engaged this culture critically in works spanning over a decade – I am interested in helping others express themselves critically within this emerging cultural context. Our parents had free love, we have free shipping...

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