Courage to Pursue Anything

Elizabeth Grazioli '09 (right) founded ArtSee, a specialty marketing and events service for artists. Above, she poses with former intern Aleksa D'Orsi '15.

Elizabeth Grazioli '09 (right) founded ArtSee, a specialty marketing and events service for artists. Above, she poses with former intern Aleksa D'Orsi '15.

Elizabeth Grazioli '09 didn't find the perfect job. She created it. 

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

It takes courage, vision and hard work to found a business. But to do so as a new college graduate—in a field as notoriously competitive as the arts, and at the height of the global economic downturn—is a true act of will.

Elizabeth Grazioli ’09 has all that and more. Within two years of graduating from Dickinson, Grazioli founded ArtSee, a specialty communications firm that provides public relations, marketing and event planning for artists in the Washington, D.C., region. 

‘Captivated’

Grazioli traces her love of the arts to her childhood in Italy, where her family lived for a few years after her father, an international banker, was transferred to Milan. “My parents dragged me around from museums to churches to museums, so I saw a lot of Renaissance art, although I don’t think I appreciated it at the time,” she says with a laugh. 

Years later at Dickinson, she selected a major in international business & management and signed up for an art-history course to fulfill an arts requirement. She was surprised by her own response to the coursework. “That class captivated me, because I was finally able to understand the works of art I’d seen growing up,” she says. “In the end I changed my major to art & art history, and I never looked back. I completely changed my idea of what my Dickinson experience was going to be.”

After gaining some post-graduation experience in marketing, Grazioli began to search for a career opportunity that called on her communications skills while meeting her desire to work with people and her passion for the arts. She didn’t find that ideal job, so in July, 2011, she created it. 

Two years later, Grazioli reports that her client base at ArtSee has been steadily building in the two years since, and this month, ArtSee is the media sponsor for the (e)merge art fair, the largest such fair in D.C. "It's really getting busy," she says, noting that she typically meets with two or three clients, potential clients or community partners each day.

Giving back

Even so, Grazioli still makes time to give back. She has served on the Alumni Council for six years, is a class agent and Networking Day volunteer, helps organize the Volunteer Leadership Summit and serves as co-chair of the Dickinson Club in Washington, D.C. “It gets a little hectic, but there was never any question that I would volunteer," Grazioli says. " To me, Dickinson is my home, and my friends and mentors at Dickinson are like family."

As part of her ongoing support for the Career Center's efforts to increase connections between students in the arts and professional alumni in those fields, Grazioli also has provided internships to five Dickinson art & art-history majors, and plans to continue to offer internships this summer. “Elizabeth instilled a great deal of trust in me,” says former ArtSee intern Julia Heydemann '12, who now works as an assistant in a Manhattan interior-design showroom. “She was a wonderful boss.”

Grazioli admits that it took some time to get used to that role, having so recently filled her interns' shoes. But while she hesitates to call herself a mentor, she is committed to doing all she can to help her fellow Dickinsonians, just as her mentors—Will Scott ’72, head of adult programs at the National Gallery of art; Phil Earenfight, director of The Trout Gallery; and Karen Faryniak, chief of staff and secretary of the college—have helped her. 

“They were and are my support system, and I owe so much to them,” Grazioli says. “Their support gives me the confidence to pursue ArtSee—and to pursue pretty much anything.”

Read more about **student-alumni internships**. 

 Grazioli's work with ArtSee is just one example of the ways in which Dickinson alumni in the arts work together. Recently, Susan Leidy '73, curator of the Chrysler Museum of Art, **loaned 10 major artworks** to the North Carolina Museum of Art through curator David Steel '75. Dickinson alumni interested in mentoring a student who plans to enter an arts or arts-related field should contact Phil Jones, dean of career development and assistant vice president for student development, at jonesph@dickinson.edu.

Published Oct. 4, 2013