Tammy Kleinman is one of the few people with a college-level fine arts background at Britto Central.
When she began with the company after graduating from the UF College of the Arts, she was one of only four employees. Of the company’s now 80 employees, Kleinman says about 30 percent have a background within the arts.
“Having a fine arts background has been pivotal and crucial for my longevity at the company,” Kleinman said.
Romero Britto, the artist behind Britto Central is more than just an artist, she said. He has become a brand. His art is featured on placemats, mugs and T-shirts, in addition to physical galleries and exhibitions.
“To be an artist is one thing, but if you want to do your artwork and make a living from it, it becomes a business, for a lack of a better word,” she said. “You have to have a knowledge of the business world and not only how to create, but also how to put it out there for people to see it.”
To have talent and a college education isn’t enough. Most people in the arts love to create, but do not have the hunger to make it a profession.
“I was reading an article the other day about the Mark Wahlbergs and the Justin Biebers, one in a million situations where you come from nothing,” Kleinman said. “I put Romero Britto in that same category. This is somebody who did not know anybody coming to this world. This is someone who has the ‘American dream.’ He works very hard even today, but he didn’t get to where he is because of somebody he knew. He literally dug it out for himself by surrounding himself with talent.”
Kleinman says her advice for students is to use their artistic ability to contribute to the arts through different avenues that they typically wouldn’t think of. Companies and organizations are looking for people to work with them in a creative manner and they do not realize that it is creative nature they are looking for.
Britto Central has a staff of attorneys, accountants, graphic designers, web developers and marketers that all work together for the beautification and betterment of art. Although these are corporate jobs, they have art at their forefront.
“I knew I wanted to be a part of that world,” Kleinman said. “I think that’s what a lot of the art students have in their mind. They love to create and they’re not certain whether that talent is enough to really be a success or make a living at it, but they want to be a part of that world.”
Kleinman earned her BA in Art History and a certificate in Museum Studies from UF.
“Museum Studies is a much broader program today than it was then,” she said. “But even then, it was very beneficial to really bring me through the physical gallery or museum process of setting up shows and to put me in the direction of this is something we are showcasing to the public.”
She also took some business classes, which helped her with her work at Britto Central when she graduated. There were times when she had to file taxes, select prices and do payroll. She was happy to have an understanding of accounting and economics.
When Kleinman joined Britto straight after graduation, it was a small company. She was able to watch and help it grow and choose what parts she wanted to be involved in. Working for Britto has taken her all across the world.
Kleinman is an art consultant for the company. In the past, she’s done everything from administrative work, fine art publications, wholesale and producing sculptures. Working with the public on special projects, like exhibitions, public art and music festivals, is her favorite responsibility, she said.
Recently, her son began studying business and music at UF, which she feels is important to succeed in the music industry.
She recently researched the College of the Arts for her son and is impressed as to how much the College of the Arts has grown and become a pillar of education.
To learn more from Tammy about how she helped build the Britto brand, join us for her presentation on October 20 at 5 p.m. in the University Gallery.