At first glance, street artist "Alec Monopoly" might not look like a conventional entrepreneur, but he uses the same core entrepreneurial values and strategy to grow his brand that every successful company uses -- the only difference is that he does it with a mask covering his face.
The unidentified artist who uses the alias “Alec Monopoly” grew up in New York City, learning to draw at the same time he was learning to write, due to his mother’s influence as an artist herself. After selling his first painting at the age of 12 for $500 and then being commissioned for 10 paintings by New York real estate developer Todd Cohen, his entrepreneurial path began. Alec Monopoly has collaborated with some of the largest names and brands, including The W Hotel, Vitamin Water, Madonna and Justin Bieber and most recently participated in a complete takeover of the SLS Hotel during Miami’s Art Basel.
The great thing about entrepreneurship is that there are very little limitations when you are equipped with the right mindset. Here are five points that Monopoly’s success emphasizes.
1. Do what you love.
Turning something you absolutely love into a thriving brand is every entrepreneurs' dream. You have undoubtedly heard it a million times -- chase your passion and the money will follow. When first starting out, Monopoly simply pursued what he loved and the success followed. He turned his love of art and talent into a thriving brand and now he gets to paint every day.
Entrepreneurs looking to turn his or her passion into a business need to surround themselves with a strong group of people.
“Building a solid team that you can trust is vital to any business or brand,” Monopoly says.
2. Consumers reward quality.
A quality product or service (or in Monopoly’s case, art) is the root of your success. Why do people like Monopoly’s art so much? It simply makes them happy. When your product or service makes people happy they are not only more likely to purchase from you but they will also introduce your brand to their friends.
Can every fan of Alec Monopoly’s art afford it? No, but that doesn’t stop them from engaging with his social media and helping to promote the brand -- priceless marketing that can rarely be duplicated at any price. Would they do this if they didn’t respect the art and feel it was authentic? Doubtful.
We have worked hard to establish Alec's art as a luxury brand. For many of our clients, Alec is their first large art purchase and we go to great lengths to retain and nurture relationships with every one who acquires paintings from us. That authentic engagement is invaluable to any sales-driven business and art is no exception. - Avery Andon, Alec Monopoly's manager
3. You must establish a USP.
Every service, product and brand needs a unique selling point. It is what makes you stand out from the competition and what attracts new customers. Monopoly accomplishes this by combining amazing art, iconic characters and a mysterious persona.
What makes Monopoly’s art so unique?
“I think the simplicity and satire of a lot of my art resonates with people from all backgrounds," he says. "There are so many talented artists today that I'm constantly trying to evolve and experiment with new styles and directions while still maintaining the core look and feel of my art.”
4. Success doesn’t sleep.
Behind every successful product, service and brand is someone that is always working. The hard work and effort doesn’t magically go away or slow down once a certain level of success is achieved. When I first started my business I was always working. That hasn’t changed and I don’t foresee that changing anytime soon.
Monopoly understands this and hasn’t let success slow his focus or growth.
“I am painting constantly and working nonstop," he says. "There is always another deadline and another painting that needs to be finished. I always say, ‘Never trust an artist who doesn't have any paint on his hands at all times.’"
5. Social media is the ultimate branding tool.
Social media gives you an opportunity to market to a huge audience around the clock. Sure, you can purchase ads on Facebook or a sponsored tweet on Twitter, but there is nothing more powerful than organic and authentic social-media marketing. As consumers become more immune to traditional marketing it makes social branding even more important.
Monopoly’s Instagram page is nearing 200,000 followers and every post receives a lot of engagement. His posts aren’t promotional and he isn’t trying to sell anything. By providing content that his audience is interested in, which includes pictures of his art and a glimpse into his life, he is constantly building his social following organically.
No “selling” is needed. Provide solid content and those that are interested in what you are offering will seek it out. Leverage social media to deliver your message and your loyal brand ambassadors will promote you -- for free. If you look at every Instagram post that Alec makes there are people tagging friends, telling them to check it out and “follow this guy.” This is priceless organic growth that doesn’t cost a dime.