One of the many implicit teachings of traditional education is that business is Business and art is Art, and never the twain shall meet.
Like red wine not going with fish, or marriage only being between the same species …. sometimes you just have to ask why? Or more forcefully, “Says who”?
Since I’m making the case for business as art, let’s start with what art is.
Art enriches the world
Art is concerned with the creation of things—works— that allow us to appreciate beauty, love, and to contemplate life and what it means to be human.
The generally accepted forms of art are sculpture, painting, music, dance, and theatre — the performing arts.
The output or product of art (to borrow some business terminology) is the artefacts that we hang on our walls and offices, or feature in our living rooms that provide us with a sense of beauty, even dignity.
So can business
Inc. magazine does a two-page spread in every issue that shows a common everyday environment, like a garage, an office space, a TV Newsroom, or at the movies, with a balloon explanation of the company that makes the items found there.
What’s clear is that business produces stuff and experiences that shape our world and give us the experience of our everyday life as being wonderful, ordinary, (if you’re lucky to be living in a place like the United States) or terrible (if you’re living in the Sudan).
Look around you.
Is it art? Of course it is. (Who said all art is good?)
The output of business shapes the tapestry and experience of your world. When you admire the design of a sky-scraper, a pen, the restaurant furniture, the bathroom fixtures, you are appreciating beauty, symmetry, functionality, efficiency; all coming from someone who took the time to care about what they were creating and how it would impact your life. That’s the type of care that artists put into their work(s of art).
The sad fact that many businesspeople don’t see it that way (yet) doesn’t negate the artistic potential of what they do.
Business is not inherently destructive
Yes, there is much about business that is destructive, and that’s besides the point. Some art depicts destruction, ugliness, guilt, loneliness etc. It’s the choice of the artist or in this case the business.
Much of what is destructive in business comes from a narrow minded view of business (focussed primarily on profit) with little regard to the canvas of people and environment that business paints on.
I wonder if business would be as destructive or careless, if businesspeople looked at business as art, if as kids they were taught to look at business not just as a means to earn the money they need to live, but as a way to make the world a better place.
If business was taught as a form of art, we might see a lot more beauty and creativity in the products we buy as well as a lot more care and consideration about how these products fit in with the environment, how well they ‘play’ with other business artefacts and how positively or negatively they impact the environment.
Perhaps businesspeople would come to see business as art, as Andy Warhol did.
Perhaps they would adopt create themselves as Bartists and adopt the Bartist mission:
To demonstrate that business and career can be a full and free expression of who you are and the difference you choose to make in the world. To carry out a mission of business as artistry where the canvas is the marketplace and the tools are passion, fun, powerful structures and massive action; to build extraordinary businesses that enrich the world.