Over 45 years of experience would recognize Art Fried as a master in the creative art of Ketubah design. It is hard to imagine that a calligraphy pen could shape the history of one person’s life. Such is the life of this artist, designer, and master creator of Ketubahs by Art Fried.
At the age of 14, Art borrowed a calligraphy pen and graph paper from his brother. For an entire week, home sick from school, he practiced the art of calligraphy using the alphabet. Returning to school the following week, he approached the mentor who had provided the calligraphy pen and cheat-paper to his brother. The mentor was very impressed with the perfection of the writing that he challenged Art to become his competition. This laid the foundation for him to become the calligrapher for the Yeshiva community from that point until the age of 20. Through those years, his creativity expanded from calligraphy, invitation designs to monograms. The culmination of his creativity gave him his passion for creating beautifully designed Ketubahs.
Art married at age 19 and opened his own graphic design studio in the Flat Iron district of Manhattan, where he made his living in the corporate world marketing advertising and graphic design. Within two years, he built a multi-million-dollar company. The company was a thriving business over the next 20 years.
Art Fried’s life was set on a career path at a very young age with a calligraphy pen and graph paper and the artful talent of his creations. He returned to his foundation 30 years after lifting that pen. Coincidentally, he designed a Ketubah for his friend’s wedding 38 years prior to him creating a Ketubah for the children of that same friend, as they too were married. This was the time when he made the decision to create his business, Ketubahs by Art Fried. Art was fulfilling the circle of life for the next generation as well as his business.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
I wanted to travel. I was looking for a business that I would be able to do and make money that I could go anywhere in the world that I wanted to be. I wanted the business to be mobile so that I could run the business sitting on the beach, or from Venice. In Jewish tradition, every wedding has a Ketubah. You can buy one where you just plug in the names of the couple. But, that is not what most people choose to have. Considering every Jewish marriage is a potential for them to choose me to create their Ketubahs provides me with huge potential to expand my business nationally. That is the reason why I chose to start Ketubahs by Art Fried.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
The Ketubah business is not my only focus yet. I do real estate. I do marketing for a friend’s auto-leasing company. I am a project manager at one of my brother’s home health company. My goal is to ultimately just focus on Ketubahs by Art Fried, my own real estate, and traveling.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I work with my clients and really listen to what they have to say and how they feel towards one another. The ideas are created from the understanding of my clients’ message. They have a desire for a high-quality customized piece of fine art with their Ketubah. I create art that people can be proud to display in their homes for a lifetime together.
What’s one trend that excites you?
What excites me about my business is the amazing quality that I have been able to find to source material for the final product. After I complete the creative process, I send the work out to a printer. My source provides museum quality printing. Giclee Prints 4000 pigments to a cotton canvas, and it appears to be a museum piece.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I have been doing this for a very long time. It has been off and on for over 45 years of my life. It has been more of a hobby than a business. I am still learning what it takes and what I should be doing to become more productive regarding this business. My website Ketubahsbyartfried.com and perhaps social media is where I will continue to bring in new business besides my referrals.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would say in the past I went beyond my comfort zone. I always pushed myself. I lost a lot of money by pushing too far. I would tell myself to Keep it even. Don’t try to grab the world. A little bit of patience and research will go a long way.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I go with my gut. When people argue with me, I do. I do things my way. I take the gamble, and most of the time I am right. I guess what I am saying is that I just don’t get into any arguments if no one agrees with me. I will just use my own judgment.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Be consistent with everything that you do. Listen carefully to your clients. If someone commissions you to do a creative piece, be detail-oriented every step of the way. Make sure that they will refer you to all of their friends and family.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I am still working on growing and building my business. My strategy is to go with Ketubahsbyartfried.com. I would like to network with wedding planners and event organizers to see if we might be able to arrange a mutually beneficial exchange. Perhaps I can put a link on my website for clients to write a review on my work directly after they receive their Ketubahs. Or send a postcard with the review link with their FedEx packages to review my work. That is when they are in awe of my work. That would be like striking when the iron is hot. It is a work in process.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I haven’t failed at this yet. I can’t fail. This is the one thing I know to be true. With the time and care that I take for my creations, this business cannot fail. It gives me such joy to see my clients faces and to be a small part of such a significant time in their lives.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
If I had a great idea, especially if it is an online business where you can do it anywhere, I would do it myself.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I give a lot to charity, but $100 is not going to make enough of a difference in a family’s lives. I did recently, however, get flowers for a friend that was feeling really down and it made her very happy.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, they are design software tools. They are great tools for a creative mind. It enhances my design.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
HGTV, Real simple, communication arts. It speaks about color and design. That excites me very much to look at home design. I go to the Home Depot paint department every now and then. It gives me fresh new ideas.
What is your favorite quote?
“Do what you’re passionate about; Speak your truth; Listen, learn, and be kind and generous,” that’s my own quote.
• Don’t go too big
• Follow your passion
• Say what you mean
• Be confident in your talents
• Listen to and get to know your customer
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.