Arts Advocates: Matt Bailey

  • Matt Bailey

ARTS ENTREPRENEUR

Q&A with Matt Bailey

Trained as a fine art photographer, Matt Bailey blended artistry with entrepreneurship throughout his career — from opening a tattoo shop in Albuquerque to co-founding a software company serving photographers. Bailey went on to earn an M.B.A. from UCI and a master’s in business analytics at NYU. Most recently, he served as director of the collaborative venturing group at UCI Beall Applied Innovation. Bailey joined the Dean’s Arts Board in 2020 as a champion for visual arts and technology..

Q. How do you see artistic and entrepreneurship intersecting?

MB: Business is actually very creative at its core. And at the end of the day, creativity thrives on commerce. As a student at the San Francisco Art Institute, I thought being concerned with selling your work was “selling out,” but the people who do the most interesting things artistically have some kind of financial support. The company I co-founded, liveBooks, was a software company that helped creative people build out their commerce side. And when you grow a company, you have to come up with creative ways of producing your product profitably. The two overlap in so many ways that are underappreciated.

Q.  What are some of the most exciting innovations you see emerging from CTSA?

MB: CTSA’s current thinking around research provides opportunities for inspiring things to happen. When you’re able to take this technical piece, which is so strong at UCI, and integrate it with art, there are so many cool possibilities. The Beall Center for Art + Technology has hosted collections of artists doing work that incorporates technical thinking, and to me that’s always been an extremely interesting area.

Q. Advancing interdisciplinary arts research is a priority for CTSA. Why is it important to you?

MB: In my experience with arts education, interdisciplinarity is often overlooked or underemphasized. I’m interested in helping to create a culture where various skill sets are not siloed. It’s been shown over and over that you come up with better solutions when you have various points of view at the table, rather than a singular viewpoint.  

Q. What do you hope to see come out of your participation on the Dean’s Arts Board?

MB: Growing up in Orange County in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and playing in rock bands most of my life, I’ve always wanted O.C. to do better creatively. We’re just so safe. I want to take every opportunity to encourage O.C. to think in more interesting ways, and I believe artists lead that movement. Think of Austin’s business growth: that started with SXSW promoting arts and music.  I’ve seen OC evolve in the last 15 or 20 years with restaurants and music, but I would like to see us go further with visual arts. With everything going on at UCI today, and the museum coming, I have high hopes.

Q. Do you have any advice for artists or art students who may be interested in business?

MB: There’s something to be said for really honing your craft while you’re in school because it’s hard to have that sort of focused time when you’re out of school. But keep an eye on your heroes, the people you respect in your field, and what they are doing to support their work and their livelihood. Your creativity can’t stop at your craft. Your creativity has to extend into how you’re going to turn that craft into a living.


To learn more about ways to support CTSA, contact Sarah Strozza, Director of Development, at 949-824-0629 or sstrozza@uci.edu.

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CONNECT - Spring 2022

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