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8 Successful Art-ternative Entrepreneurs

8 Successful Art-ternative Entrepreneurs

Emily Badger | Good

Name: Jim Coudal Project: Coudal Partners Years at it: Fifteen



“Someone once accused us of doing nothing but following our whims to their every logical and illogical conclusion,” Jim Coudal says. That is, more or less, exactly right. His Chicago-based studio, Coudal Partners, is behind creations as random as the online ad network the Deck, the classic memo books called Field Notes, and the Museum of Online Museums.

Coudal makes physical products, internet tools, and other oddities, any number of which will suck up an entire afternoon if you stumble upon coudal.com. That is perhaps the best way to describe the 50-year-old: He’s a master of the type of ephemera you would probably be playing with if you didn’t have to do your own job. Some of his ideas produce business, others only laughs. Some move from one category to the next. The studio once did traditional client work, designing brands and marketing for restaurants, sports teams, and financial firms. When Coudal Partners started to execute its own ideas, the firm became its own favorite client. “The way we describe what we are now,” Coudal says, “is we are a creative-design and advertising firm with no clients.

“We’re of the school that if you have an idea that you think might work, the answer is not to talk about it for four weeks. The answer is to try it and see what happens,” he says. “If it goes down in flames, that’s fun too.”

Art by Mark Todd.

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