Reflections on art and leadership

I use my art to reflect an artist and a senior manager in the financial services industry. I notice that the deeper I understand myself the more I succeed to impact others; in both art and work.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

art is not design

It is interesting to look at what the purpose is of art, and what does it mean when you are a ' succesful' artist. Recently I observed some discussions through LinkedIn artist group discussions, and it was surprising how diverse the opinions were, and also how passionately artists disagreed.
Le pinceau voyageur 2
Recent art work - Subconscious Power concept
decided to use silk and cut shapes away
I still do not have the answer to this, although I have been trying to understand more and more about it over the last years. There are however a few insights I learnt, and during a long evening/night conversation with friend Arjan I realised it might be good to capture some of these thoughts.

Art is not design, and design is not art.
You can make nice things, paint lovely images, express your feelings etc. In the end there is a difference between art and design:
The purpose of design is to make other people like it, where the purpose of art is to 'scratch the soul of the artist'. An artists primarily focus should not be to make what other people like. The artist should build his/her skills and insights, try to explore oneself. And in the end, when the artist truly touches himself, the art work is more likely to touch others.
Basically, painting without any purpose is like a journey without directions, repetition of skills without deeper learning.

Why would an artist then expose his/her art ?
It sounds contradictory that the purpose of art is not to make it beautiful for others...and then artists go through so much trouble to find a gallery, and to show their work and even sell their work to others. Others that quite often just buy art works because it 'looks nice'.
The first time I was asked to participate in an exhibition I thought a long time about it; my art works are so personal, they represent an important journey, reflections, struggle and internalisation of new insights. In the end there were and still are a few reasons to exhibit and even share thoughts and insights through a blog:
> art is a great way of sharing deeper reflections; I have noticed when I meet people and talk about the reflections that are part of my art work or concepts, people open up more quickly. Where normally the first discussions are about the weather, work etc now it is possible to talk about dysfunctional behaviour, dark sides, frustrations, etc.
> describing your ideas makes them also clearer to yourself; often ideas and art works are made in silence, they start in the head of the artist and end up as a series of 'images'. When explaining your concepts to others, and being faced with questions and remarks it forces you to make the concepts more clear; find more simple ways to explain what the paintings are really about.
> communication helps to explore, find other words for the same insights and collectivise learning
> extend the personal purpose to a larger audience; often the artists build new insights for him- or herself, digging deeper and deeper into oneself. The surface of what we see of our self is still very much linked to our social context; it shows the values of our direct culture, it is linked to the behaviour that is considered normal in our context. The deeper an artist touches and challenges himself, the more the artist finds insights that are reflecting on his or her context. An ambition of the artist can be to share his insights with the world and create inspiration and true reflection with other people around the same concepts.
> test and enrich your concepts - an artist can stay in his or her cave during and after the creation process, and enjoy the process of making and the richness of the result. At the same time an artist should not be guided with fear for what others find of the work. Feedback of others can help improve the work, find ways to enhance the skills and deepen the concept.

Branding art
""the giant that has been overpowered"
Subconscious Power concept
Now for sale at
I read an interesting book The $12 million stuffed shark: The curious economics of contemporary art by Don Thompson. It describes many things about art and branding, too much to all mention here. Key elements is the role of branding the art works; nowadays a large aspect of becoming a renowned artist involves branding; how do I market my art...etc. Although I would say that branding my art is not my key objective, it made me realise that I should spend some time thinking about these topics. Some elements I have taken into consideration:
- take time to describe your concepts and ideas, and make it easy to find for others
- decide what type of gallery you would like to work with;
- look at how others promote themselves and see how this could apply
- decide what I do and do not do; I want to promote my art, but not at the cost of my art
- go much further in thinking about a concept, not wanting to make concessions to the initial idea because 'this is good enough' or 'the next step is too difficult' etc.
I can recommend to other artists taking some time; there are plenty of books about how to market your art, and at a minimum it improves the way you promote what you do today.

Selling art through the Internet
Some of these reflections also crossed my mind when deciding whether or not to post my art works at for sale. I will participate to their exhibition in Barcelona this year, but at the same time I wonder what the sale through internet will bring. The site is quite good for people to get an idea of the art works and even can see it hanging over a couch - just to get an impression of how it would look in the room.
I also like that people can send the art works back when they are dissatisfied.
In the end I decided to participate, and see what it will bring. One reason to do this is also the enormous value I found in creating this blog and how people have reacted, bringing lots of ideas and inspiration as well as new insights.
So, I have now uploaded 4 art works and preparing for the exhibition in just waiting what will happen. Fortunately plenty of work to be done so will not have a problem filling my time with useful and distracting things to do, such as making new art works :)

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