Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
July 9, 2011 5:39 PM

Study Art

The greatest thinkers and the greatest businesspeople have a passion for some kind of art.

It's easy to get all smug about a comment like that and think to yourself, "it's easy for successful people to have a passion for art, because they're the ones who are rich enough to buy it... and have the time to spend on it." That's a myth. Whether it's art, music, dance, photography, architecture or literature, it's easy to have a passion for any of these art forms on the cheap. No, I'm not talking about making a yearly pilgrimage to a museum or stepping into an art gallery on a busy tourist street as your commitment to the arts. You can watch documentaries about artists, you can read books about them and you can - without question - consume a ton of content about any type of art that interests you online.

Having a passion for art with make you smarter, richer and more creative.

Sadly, many people think that enjoying art (and having a passion for it) is for when you have nothing else to do. Make the study of art a priority in your life... and watch your life change. I'm quirky. The art I enjoy runs the gamut from heavy metal music to comic books and from the stuff I see on Lost At E Minor (hat-tip to Arjun Basu for pointing that gem of a site out to me) to reading books and watching documentaries on artists (everyone from architects to stand-up comedians). You're probably laughing at me, because you think that art can only be associated to names like Degas, Monet or Astaire. Not true. I get more out of listening to a Miles Davis album than I do out of watching a symphony orchestra (though I can appreciate both) and I get more out of reading an issue of Batman from the 1960s than I do looking at an exhibit from Keith Haring (though I can appreciate both). Art is amazing because you can chose your own adventure.

Don't just consume it. Study it.

The real trick of making art interesting is not in the mild consumption of it... it's in studying it. Watch a documentary about DC Comics or the history of Batman, and you'll understand the creative inspiration behind it, the challenges in getting the idea and concept to spread, the business foibles and mis-steps, etc... If you think it's hard to get people to buy your concepts in a meeting, start studying the history and background of some of the world's greatest artists and you'll soon realize how easy the majority of us have it. Where this will hopefully lead you is to two unique places:

  1. You will think more creatively. Learning about what inspires the great artists to create will definitely inspire you to think in a more creative way. And, if the world needs anything at this point in business, it is people who can think more creatively.
  2. You will realize that your work can (and should be) your art. I always felt a little uneasy about saying that my writing for this Blog was the art that I was meant to do or that the ideas that our company, Twist Image, brings to our clients in the Marketing sphere is my art. It made me feel pompous... or full of myself. Reading Seth Godin's book, Linchpin, changed that for me (and if you have not read it yet, you should!).

If you study art, what I hope you will soon realize (beyond developing a deeper level of creativity and passion) is that your work is your art as well. If it's not, it should be.

By Mitch Joel