Artists Passionate About Their Work Have Many Lessons for Entrepreneurs
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Willingness to fail. Passionate vision. Intense self motivation. Constant networkers. Sound like the traits of an entrepreneur? Yes but interestingly enough fine artists also share these character essentials with entrepreneurs. Below we further explore this unique comparison and point out some additional things entrepreneurs can learn from their artist counterparts.
1. Innovate to stand out.
Disruptive innovation in business means the application of a fresh new idea or augmenting something different than currently used. By targeting a new consumer base these innovations often go unchallenged by competitors; creating a new market altogether.
In art, think of The Renaissance as the perfect conditions disruption. In the 15th century new ideas about art, music, science and the like brought culture out of the stagnant Middle Ages. The word renaissance in Old French literally translates to rebirth. One disruption from this time period was oil paint. Semblances of oil paints were used by ancient Hellenistic and Egyptian societies; but in 1410 Flemish painter Jan van Eyck created a new type of oil paint that produced vibrant colors and light. This solution spurred the development of new painting methods. Van Eyck’s oil paints are still used over 500 years later.
Air BnB is an online (and mobile app) marketplace that connects users wanting to rent out their properties or spare room to users looking for lodging. Air BnB is a model example of disruptive innovation. Originally, users of the app were looking for a low-cost alternative to hotels. They were not the same consumer base that was interested in the perks of a highly rated hotel. As Air BnB became increasingly popular the company improved the quality of its offerings and therefore could satisfy a full range of customer preferences. Currently, Air BnB is valued at $25 billion.
“Creativity and innovation is what is essential in art. It is a key asset for entrepreneurs and business people,” Jason Rubell, co-founder of Rubell Family Collection, told me. “They will be will served to harness this forward thinking and creative energy in business endeavors,” he added.
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2. New age time management.
“[In my] work area you’ll often find dozens of paintings spread around and either facing outwards or pointing towards the wall. If it’s point towards the wall, I call it ‘putting it on ice’ and it means that I will get to it at some point but right now I’m not really responding to it. The paintings that are faced outwards are being rotated in my work mix,” said contemporary fine artist Matthew Ryan Herget. “Frankly, sometimes I get bored and need to work on something else to keep the energy moving. So…I generally work in a rotation that is dictated by my own feeling on how things are going,” added Herget.
The best artists know when to take their time. They conceptualize, brainstorm, sometimes taking time off to do nothing but think. In the business world, this conscious effort to be inactive sounds counterproductive. Artists recognize that actively working on something isn’t the only way to be productive. Occasionally take a break to allow time for the brain to reboot, this enables you to find inspiration naturally. When the mind can relax when it maxes out creativity — this is true for art and business alike.
This is not an excuse to slack off. Productivity experts recommend time management techniques to pace work and break time. “I focus on one task at a time,” award-winning portrait photographer Martin Schoeller said to me in our interview. “I leave my phone at home when hanging out with my kids,” added Schoeller who is currently exhibiting at the historic Fotografiska New York.
Techniques like these are how you work smart by choosing priorities. Critically analyze time usage — don’t just simply work harder. You will reap the benefits that time management has to offer.
Related: Keep Your Day Job but Everyone Needs a Side Project
3. Observe, listen and learn every chance you get.
It’s exciting when someone is so consumed with an idea that they want to build a business around it, but listening to outside input is an invaluable trait for entrepreneurs. Business owners can be emotionally attached to a project, but observing, learning and willing to change based on what has worked for comparables always wins out against blind passion. Fine artists do this well. They know when to take their time and absorb what is happening around them to influence their work.
Renowned abstractionist Jackson Pollock benefited from being incessantly observant. Pollock grew up in the southwest United States and claims that Native American tribal art was one of his main influences as an artist. Later in life, he often frequented Native American art exhibits in museums like the MoMA to continue to observe and be inspired. Pollock’s Number 17A sold for $200 million; hard to find any more validation than that.
As an entrepreneur, take what you have learned from fine artists and turn it into your own creation. Maybe you will end up with your own masterpiece of a business.