For many, the intersection of business and art is disconnected. The left brain and right brain paradox that we have entertained for years as the difference between logic and creativity has created a wedge, which makes it difficult for us to see their similarities. Yet there is so much that business can learn from art. Artistic and corporate visions often align closely, sharing creativity, drive and (sometimes) discomfort and, as a result, companies can borrow from art.
Learn how to start and when to stop
An experience that most artists can testify is staring absently at a canvas, instrument in hand, with no sense of direction. The hands become paralyzed, pondering where to start despite juggling repeatedly with each variation of the piece. Sitting there for days or even weeks, overshadowing the vision, while alike, small business owners experience the same kind of self-resistance when they make the leap into business ventures. Flooding with doubts and deliberating on any possibility of failure, neglecting thoughts of success. In the same way that you have to put the first brushstroke on the canvas, entrepreneurs have to convert reservations into courage. Whether it’s starting a business in general, taking a leap with a new hire, starting a new system or process, or offering a new product, business owners need to paint the next steps with confidence.
But the second hurdle is figuring out when to put the tools down. For both the artist and the entrepreneur, we protect our works from the public until we reach “perfection”, a simply unattainable standard. A fundamental element of art and business is learning to let go and let the work speak for itself.
“There is no ‘must’ in art because art is free”– Wassily Kandinsky
If every work of art followed precise rules for what is considered beautiful or technically accurate, it would defeat the purpose of its essence. Art is created to be experienced by viewers, regardless of whether they experience it negatively or positively. Likewise, entrepreneurs should also choose to embrace the same freedom in their work. Some of the major companies were criticized in their infancy, but they continue to be successful for daring to take risks. Considering your customer base, what rules can you fold to represent your company’s unique services or offerings?
The sterile walls of an office cubicle, or even an artist’s studio, can limit our creative reach, leaving us uninspired and stagnant. One way artists overcome this problem is to simply move places into a natural environment. Numerous studies have found that nature has the ability to enhance creativity and problem-solving skills. Take a walk around Idlewild Park, hike Monkey Rock, relax in the greenery of an arboretum. Our lack of creativity often has less to do with us than with the environment we are in, so don’t forget to take some time away from your desk to reset.
Losing a sense of self
As artists and entrepreneurs whose most important asset to our brand is authenticity, it is imperative that we never lose sight of the human element within us. Constantly juggling requests from clients, fellow artists, brands, and more, while trying to hold back time for our personal lives … all of these things tend to make us compromise what’s truly important to us. Not only does this have a direct reflection on the work we produce, but it softens our spark and our desire to innovate. We should always try to push the envelope of our wits, but not compromise the balance between ourselves.
What brings you back to life? What is the medium you feel most in tune with? Are they oils, charcoal, paint, ceramic? Are you a songwriter who has abandoned rock n roll for classical composition? Indulge in the craft that brings you back to the center.
Maybe it’s a cliché, but a picture is worth a thousand words, and integrating art into your business model can not only make your business more memorable, it can also inspire thoughts and ideas that might surprise you.
If you’re looking to get inspired and immerse yourself in the works of local artists, join the Sierra Arts Foundation to celebrate the Sierra Arts Festival at Wingfield Park on Friday 25 June and Saturday 26 June from 10am to 5pm Featuring art from a variety of mediums including sculptures, paintings, ceramics, jewelry, fiber art and more, the afternoon will ignite creativity in both clients and fellow artists. Additionally, artists are small business owners themselves and will appreciate the support. Visit sierraarts.org for more information.
Tracey Oliver is the executive director of the Sierra Arts Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to defend the arts and artists who create it within a 200-mile radius. Learn more at sierraarts.org.
NCET is a member-supported nonprofit organization that helps people explore business and technology. (www.NCET.org)