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Meet Matthew Swanlund of Aesthetic Legal in Playa Vista and Playa del Rey

Today we’d like to introduce you to Matthew Swanlund.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Matthew. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
After working for major, traditional law firms for 15 years, I felt it was time to venture out on my own. I wanted to pursue my own entrepreneurial interests by building a law firm that was focused on protecting and promoting creative businesses, artists, entertainers, designers and other creative professionals. I wanted to be able to select my own clients and represent them on my own terms. My foundational belief is that creativity, in all of its forms, shapes and improves our society, our culture, and our world. Creativity must be protected and promoted if our society and culture are to continue.

So, in 2015, I founded Aesthetic Legal, a unique and non-traditional law firm focused entirely upon serving the creative industries, with an intentionally non-traditional law firm name. I wanted my clients to view me as a partner in their creative endeavors and not as an obstruction to their progress, so I selected a name that embodied that creative partner spirit. I selected Silicon Beach as my office location because it is an epicenter of creativity, and the location of many of my clients.

My clients now include everything from Fortune 100 public companies to private individuals; renowned artists, performers, writers, celebrities, musicians and sports figures; and creative businesses of all types. My clients and my practice are intentionally diverse and broad, and I revel in expanding my knowledge and experience with each client. I also serve as general counsel to some of my clients, which allows me to truly become a partner in the development and growth of their creative businesses.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
When I started my firm a trusted advisor explained to me that starting a business is like flying an airplane. It takes an incredible amount of energy to take off, but once it’s in the air, it only requires minor adjustments to keep it airborne. I took great comfort in that anecdote and believed that once I got my firm established, I could enjoy the fruits of my labor and just make minor tweaks along the way.

That anecdote has proven to be wrong on many levels. My experience has been more like flying a fighter jet through enemy territory. Starting a business means constantly reacting to challenges, making course adjustments, dodging potential fatal mistakes, all the while maintaining focus on the mission at hand, which is to provide my clients with the greatest care possible.

That is all part of being an entrepreneur, and that experience has provided me with a new perspective that I am able to bring to the services I provide to my clients. Because I understand their challenges and their plight, I am able to communicate critical insight to my clients on terms they understand, not just from a legal perspective, but also from a practical operations perspective.

Please tell us about Aesthetic Legal.
I am a creative at heart and I love other artists. I am a painter, writer, photographer and designer. I am also an attorney. What sets me apart is that I have the ability to see the creative process, and the creative industries as a whole, from two perspectives – internally as a creative and externally as an attorney. This perspective provides me with the ability to translate complex legal concepts to creative individuals and creative companies in a language they understand. This helps my clients embrace me as a creative partner in their business ventures, and it allows me to immerse myself completely in my clients’ businesses.

I am a leader in providing legal services to all creative industries, including arts and entertainment, new media talent and producers, start-up and established businesses, advertisers and brands, retail and restaurants, sports figures and endorsement brands, and art galleries and museums. I provide critical legal services in the areas of copyright, trademark, cannabis, business and corporations, new media, art, entertainment, commercial products, real estate, contracts, and internet.

One area in which I am especially well-known as a leader is in Art Law. I represent numerous artists (both local as well as international), art galleries, museums and arts related businesses in all aspects. I am involved in many local arts related community groups and organizations to promote public art in our community. I am also an adjunct professor at UC Irvine School of Law where I teach Art Law.

As I have a particular affinity for protecting artists, who have routinely been taken advantage of and have little bargaining power, I recently launched a subscription legal service directly for artists, art galleries and arts related businesses called Artside Counsel. It is specifically designed to address the changing needs of art-related clients. And provides limited scope legal services at an affordable monthly subscription rate to cover most of the customary needs of an art business. Specialized legal service outside of the general scope are offered at a flat rate.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I am normally not one to relive the past, especially any mistakes I may have made in this journey. I really try to learn from every mistake, from every failure, and recognize it as a blessing in disguise because it has made my business that much more valuable and my entrepreneurial journey that much more rewarding. No mistake or failure has yet proven to be fatal, so I will continue to take those lessons and use them to strengthen my business journey. It took me some time to get to that point of acceptance, so the only thing I would have done differently would be to accept failure as a blessing earlier.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Izida Lukmanova (In N Out Photo only)

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