What image springs to mind when you picture a ‘business person’? Be honest with yourself. What do you see? Who do you see? Now play the same game with the word ‘artist’. Don’t over think it. Just make a mental picture. Put the artist and business person side by side.
My guess is that you have a suited and booted briefcase clad individual standing next to an eccentric maverick wearing a berrii and a white overall.
Don’t feel bad. When put on the spot I’d say those stereotypes would be fairly common.
Of course we’re being incredibly literal here to prove a point (about semantics and connotations), nonetheless it’s not uncommon for us to disassociate the term artist from the term business person. Which, in the humble opinion of myself and the team here at Rebelhead Entrepreneurs, is cataclysmically incorrect.
We do not need to be defined.
If I had started this article by presenting the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of the word ‘business’ and aligned it with the general perception of what it is to be an artist, I would expose society’s need for conclusive definition. To understand something, we often feel it needs to be labelled. It needs to be put in a box.
As we navigate our way through daily life we scan and we observe. We fliter and we judge. We apply a set of predetermined connotations, and compartmentalise people, places, and objects into our own mental filing cabinet of labels, categories and departments.
It’s perfectly normal. Nothing more than our lizard brain’s inability to shake off the ‘safety in numbers’ survival instinct that would have saved our lives eighteen gazillion years ago. That, combined with a lifetime of preconditioning, is a powerful cocktail-combination to be reckoned with.
Let go of limitations.
Having preconceived ideas of what a business person or artist should look like doesn’t make us bad people, but it doesn’t mean we are right to continue with this perspective. What we should do, is work on our ability to break down the deep routed limits we put on understanding and interpreting life. Real life. Modern life. The world we live in today.
Alan Sugar. He’s an artist. Elon Musk. An artist. Donald Trump. Yep, he’s an artist too (he’s also a complete c**t but that’s irrelevant to point in hand. Salvidor Dali wasn’t the most lovely of gentlemen but that doesn’t negate the fact his artwork is incredible).
Banksy. He’s an incredible business person. Casey Neistat, a world class entrepreneur.
To be a great business person you need to CREATE. You need to make something out of nothing. You need to turn a vision into reality.
We are ALL creators.
Some of the greatest business minds in the world may not be filled with what we would typically define as artistic flair, but they know how to assemble and assimilate. They know to build and how to construct. They delegate. They recruit. They direct. They identify their own limits and flaws and will hire, recruit and onboard that which they lack in ability, or that with which time restricts solo execution. They build teams of individuals, and collections of tools, to turn their vision into reality.
Similarly, a great painter recruits the materials required to turn their vision into reality. Human hands, no matter how supple or talented, cannot create a beautiful oil on canvas without the recruitment of brushes and materials
A great business person is not the product. A great painter is not the paint. A great business person directs the component parts required to bring something to life; as does the painter.
If you create something, anything, you are an artist. If you want to make a career out of your art, you need to know how to make money from it. You need to know how to sell it, market it, build a brand, identify your key audience, establish commercial relationships and design sustainable engines of growth.
To be an entrepreneur, is to be an artist. (Incidentally, to be an artist you don’t necessarily have to be an entrepreneur if you never want to turn it into your livelihood).
The living proof:
A good friend of mine, Steve Pell, used to be Business Manager for global music artists such as Calvin Harris and DeadMau5. He recently told me that out of all the successful musicians he has ever worked with, the one common trait he identified in each, far beyond musical talent, was indeed entrepreneurial flair.
Give the Oxford English Dictionary a cause to be updated.
We live in an incredible time for artists and creators. The lines between ‘artist’ and ‘business professional’ are being truly redefined. Creativity is now considered the most important skills for a CEO to have
‘When CEOs were asked, “What is the skill you most value in your people?”, they said creativity, the ability to solve problems, come up with new solutions, and use brainpower to figure things out.’ – ‘Creativity Will Drive The US Economy’, Richard Florida
In tandem to this, entrepreneurial flair is one of the most important traits for professional creatives to have. Perspectives are merging, and future lays in the hands of those who create art – in the hands of the entrepreneur.