Many years ago, a career in art and a career in the business world were considered to be on the two ends of the career spectrum. Artists who exhibited remarkable talent for their craft would oftentimes live a humble and meager life, unable to translate their talents into business growth. Businessmen, on the other hand, pursued their ambitions in the open markets, spending their time dealing with issues of finance, strategy and profit margins, oftentimes expressing their appreciation for art only from a distance. In recent years the business world and the art world have begun to merge, either through newly developed products that combine business with art, or through people of one profession, rolling up their sleeves and delving in to the other.
Today, some of the leading revenue-generating products are those that combine art with practical function. In response to this, there is a developing awareness and appreciation for the importance of integrating art and creativity into the business world. One of the main drivers for this new trend appears to be a shift towards a belief that it is ultimately innovation that will differentiate us from our competitors. Steve Jobs, the legendary founder of Apple, supported this idea when he said, Technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with the liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing. Technology has certainly changed the way in which we experience our world, and this change has created new perspectives from which business can be approached. Reaching success ultimately requires both the ‘right brain thinking’ of the artist to have the vision and creativity required to innovate, and the logical ‘left brain thinking’ of the technologist to understand and translate this innovation into a practical manifestation. Possibly the best example of where art and technology or art and business meet is in the advertising industry. If once there was a team of copywriter and art director, the dyad has today become a triad that also includes a creative technologist.
This partnership between creativity and practical disciplines is also being expressed within the individual. Concurrently, businessmen whose first love is in fact art in one form or other are finding a way to combine their artistic talents with business for personal and professional benefit. In many cases the businessman and artist are one and the same – either a businessman who dabbles in art in one form or other, or an artist who seeks to establish a prosperous career from selling his or her works. There are businessmen’s art clubs, some with a number of branches in various cities across the US. Together these clubs claim membership of hundreds of professionals – bankers, salesmen, manufacturers and lawyers – who would rather spend their spare time painting than playing golf.
The late Johannes Christensen was one example of a businessman and artist, who, after his retirement, held a number of exhibitions in London and Denmark. Christensen worked for the Great Northern Telegraph Company, which is a multinational corporation operating out of Denmark. He played a significant part in laying a telecommunications cable from Copenhagen to Leningrad, through the Baltic Sea, and from there to Japan, through Siberia. Although he studied for a short time at the Slade School of Art, Christensen was, for the most part, a self-taught artist with a darkly expressionist style.
Another example of a businessman returning to his first love – photography – is financier Scott Mead. Mead’s love of photography started at the age of 13, when he received an old camera from his grandfather. Before embarking on his banking career, Mead seriously considered a career in photography and studied under the renowned American photographers Gown, White and Eggleston. Ultimately his career in banking took precedence, and only recently Mead returned to devoting more time to photography. Recently, Scott Mead held a successful exhibition in 2010 at London’s Hamilton Gallery, and two photographs from this exhibition – “Untitled” and “Evening Light” – were selected for the Royal Academy’s 2011 summer exhibition. Scott is working towards a second solo exhibition – “Looking Forward” – planned for 2013.
Victor “Corky” Goldman was a businessman for more than forty years. Now, having retired, he is returning to his first love – art, and over the last few years has exhibited his watercolor paintings at local and regional shows in the Mobile, Alabama area. Goldman graduated from Auburn University with a BA in fine arts, and had hopes of becoming a commercial artist. Fate intervened in the form of family commitment when his father-in-law became ill with cancer and Goldman was required to move to Mobile to help with the family business. When Goldman’s father-in law passed away, Goldman took over the business and put his dreams on the back burner as he worked in the business and raised three children. In 2010 Goldman sold the business and since then has devoted himself full time to his passion – art.
With time, art and business are becoming more and more intertwined. It seems that the two very different disciplines are actually quite complimentary to one another, creating a balance not only in the products that we consume, but also in the lives that we lead.
Amanda Lisin is a veteran writer focusing on fields of finance and business.
Her background as an in-house writer for top newspaper publications in the past lead her to become a freelance writer and commentator as well a regular guest on television as an expert analyst in the field.