NCET Biz Tips: Juxtaposing art to improve your business

To many, the intersection between business and art is disjointed. The left brain, right brain paradox we’ve entertained for years as the difference between logic and creativity has created a wedge, one that makes it hard for us to see their similarities. Yet there is so much business can learn from art. Artistic and business visions often closely align, sharing creativity, drive and (at times) discomfort and, because of that, businesses can borrow from art.

Tracey Oliver

Learning How to Start and When to Stop 
An experience most artists can attest to is staring blankly at a canvas, tool in hand, with no sense of direction. Hands become paralyzed, pondering where to start despite juggling every variation of the piece repeatedly. Sitting there for days or even weeks putting the vision on the back burner, while similarly, small business owners experience the same type of self- resistance when taking the leap on business ventures. Billowing with doubt and deliberating every possibility of failure while neglecting thoughts of success. In the same way you have to put the first brush stroke on the canvas, business owners have to convert reservations into bravery. Whether it’s starting the business in general, taking a leap with a new hire, starting a new system or process, or offering a new product, business owners must paint the next steps confidently.
But the second hurdle is understanding when to put the tools down. For the artist and business owner alike, we shield our works from the public until we reach “perfection,” a standard that is simply unfeasible. A fundamental element of artistry 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 piece of art followed precise rules for what was considered pretty or technically accurate, it would defeat the purpose of its essence. Art is created to be experienced by viewers, whether they experience it negatively or positively. Likewise, business owners should also choose to embrace the same freedom in their work. Some of the most notable businesses were criticized in their infancy but remain successful for daring to take risks. Considering your own customer base, what rules can you bend to portray your company's unique services or offerings?

Immersion of Plein 
The sterile walls of an office cubicle, or even an artist’s studio, can limit our creative reach- leaving us feeling uninspired and stagnant. One way artists overcome this is simply moving locations to a natural environment. Multiple studies have found nature has a capacity to enhance creativity and problem solving abilities. Take a walk around Idlewild Park, hike up Monkey Rock, lounge in the greens of an arboretum. Our lack of creativity often has less to do with us than with the environment we’re in, so don’t forget to take time away from the desk to reset.

Losing Sense of Self 
As artists and business owners where the most important asset to our brand is authenticity, it is vital to never lose sight of the human element within us. Constantly juggling requests from customers, fellow artists, brands and more, while still trying to retain 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 dims our sparkle and desire to innovate. We should always try to push the envelope of our ingenuity, but not compromise balance between ourselves.
What brings you back to life? What is a medium you feel the most in tune in? Is it oils, charcoal, paint, ceramics? Are you a singer/songwriter who has abandoned rock n roll for classical composition? Indulge in the craft that brings you back to center.
Perhaps it’s cliché, but a picture is worth a thousand words, and integrating art into your business model can not only make your business more memorable, but help inspire thoughts and ideas that might surprise you.
If you are looking to become inspired and immerse yourself in the works of local artists, join the Sierra Arts Foundation in celebrating the Sierra Arts Festival at Wingfield Park on Friday, June 25 and Saturday, June 26 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. With art from a variety of mediums including sculptures, paintings, ceramics, jewelry, fiber art and more, the afternoon will ignite creativity in patrons and fellow artists alike. Plus, the artists are small business owners themselves and will appreciate the support. Visit for more information.
Tracey Oliver is the Executive Director of Sierra Arts Foundation, a nonprofit that works to advocate for arts and the artists who create it within a 200 mile radius. Learn more at 
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