July 30, 2014 Repository 148: Top 7 Ways Businesses Should be Like Artists Posted In: art practice, bon mots, community, perspective, philosophy, social critique

Still from "What about Bob", released in 1991

Still from “What about Bob”, released in 1991

In the past 10-15 years there has been increasing pressure on artists to operate like a business – Rhode Island School of Design ensures their graduates will know how to open an Etsy store, and many grants and foundations such as Creative Capital require artists to have a marketing strategy, budget outline and revenue streams. More artists than lawyers are currently graduating in this climate, and the result is a heavily saturated bad/non-art market.The mediocre, which have perhaps amazing marketing or social media skills, are being heralded as important by the equally large number of uninspired theorists/critics.

While I haven’t been forced exactly to be an artist or business person, my life has brought me to art and business and back again: I am just curious enough to get myself into trouble, and just smart enough to know when to stop. While I believe in the mastery of things, and releasing oneself to your passion I have not yet been able to nail down which direction suits me best (business or art). Let’s just say that my passion and reason for existing is creative thinking and making, though when I try to visualize myself as an Artist with a capital “A”, the story board looks more like me on a mast “sailing” like Bob in the movie “What about Bob – “I’m an artist now! I make art!!”.

Since I gladly live on a teeter totter, and in light of artists being forced to think like a business person, a museum shop and a brand, here is a list of ways that a business could think as an artist. Creativity is a very hot topic in corporate literature these days, and without naming names let’s just say the right brain has nothing to do with being an artist necessarily. Simply put the more curious you are, and the more comfortable you can jump around in your mind the more you innovate. So businesses here is how to think like a true artist (not new artist, there’s a difference):

1. The more restrictions you have the more creative you will be;
2. You don’t need a 4,000 square foot sail to make a boat go – know how to edit;
3. Self reflect on what you are doing often – realize if you are not being true to your soul (mission) the results will not be sustainable;
4. If you can not explain what you are doing to anyone at a bus stop, start over;
5. Be mindful of your impact – be aware of your audience, the space you have your dialog in and the archival or destructive nature of the materials you use;
6. You will only make an impact financially by peer reviewed analysis and a community of people supporting your work. If you are not on your peer group’s radar you are not in the game. A true artist is never an island;
7. Comfort is the enemy of the artist.


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