17 comments to Deep Thought Thursday: Business vs. career
Why the vs?
I’ve always been accused of not being able to draw the line between “life” and “work.” Business is a tainted word in the realm of art, but I think we’re finally figuring it out. Career= business. It’s not distinguishable.
The way I read the question it could be interpreted as highlighting the difference between being self-employed and being employed You can have a career as an artist, as many people do, without running your own business. It’s possible to leave the business to other people if employed as an artist. Similarly, you can run an art business (ie one related to art) without having a career as an artist. However no artist who ignores the business end of of ‘being an artist’ will ever have a long term career as a self-employed artist! The question isn’t about always about doing the business yourself, you just have to make sure somebody is covering the business end of ‘being an artist’. I’ve known many couples where the artist stays in the studio and the spouse handles the business end of things. It seems to work for them! Some galleries contract with artists, deal with all their sales and business obligations and pay the artist a regular stipend – it’s just another way of handling business. Not one that’s on offer to very many people though!
Neither. What I do is an intrinsic part of what I am; it is part of my own authenticity. Whether working as a coach or as an artist, I believe I bring the same to the work, and gain the same from it. Money is only a small part of that gain, though I admit, it’s useful!
I guess I don’t see them as mutually exclusive. When I’m referring to the nuts and bolts, it’s my Business. When I’m talking about the creative aspect, it’s my Career. The power of words!
Artists when they are doing their best work are following a different call than that of being a business person. They are listening to something deeper. Of course artists have to have a relationship with the business side of the artworld is they are going to be able stay at it as working artists. Taking steps to build an audience is just part of that. But at the end of the day, I believe being an artist is about having an authentic romance with one’s vision. They don’t teach that in business school.
I think Katherine has a good handle on it. “Career” sounds slightly more high-flown & noble, while “business” sounds more earthy and mercenary … but, in truth, they are the same thing. When I was a kid in University, I discovered my main medium. I told the professor, “This is it!” and asked how to go about making a living at it … she couldn’t answer me! So I set off to discover it on my own. My realization, many years later, was this: If you want to make a living doing art, if you want to be a professional artist instead of an amateur who does it on the side, you have two choices: 1) Work for somebody else doing THEIR art (commercial work, employee, apprentice, helper, etc.) ..–OR–.. 2) You go into BUSINESS for yourself. There is no such thing as JUST being an artist ….. even if you work totally alone, ALL the functions of a viable business have to be done, or you will ultimately flounder. You can learn to do them all yourself or hire them done by others, but ultimately, business functions must be mastered to succeed on your own. The real key comes in how your business entity is oriented – are you a business that is geared towards supporting the artists’ vision, or are you an artist that produces what the business needs & wants? The former is the more true to the goals of art.
Art career vs. Business? For me, it’s both. My art career spans nearly everything I’ve done in the visual arts: working at the mom-n-pop print shop, prespress at a big printer, graphic design, creative direction, photography, interactive design. My art business is how I stopped working for others (as David said about), took control of my future, and worked to translate all of my art career into a livelihood. My art business involves selling my prints, marketing to hotels and businesses, my ketubah business, and so on.
Wait. They’re not the same thing? *scratching head*
I would have to say I fall in both (Business and Career), by dividing some months as employment of creating the arts and some months of heavily promoting and selling the arts of my own as well other artist’s artworks. I think in my opinion there is very much a big different between the two as in stress vs. passion, depending on the person (artist or businesswoman/man), as some artist/businesswoman/man prefer to do both and some just one of the two choices.
I would add: Art Business vs. Art Career vs. Art LIFE
Tina: Only you can decide if the “vs.” is necessary. Liza: I think if you’re really good at what you do and you are passionate about it, there’s nothing wrong with life=work–especially for artists whose inspiration must come from within. Katherine: Can you have a career without making money at it? (Which is what I associate with business.) Marion: So you never use “art career” when talking about what you do? Tracy: Right to the point. Philip: Has the traditional businessperson tainted our perception of the word? As I said above, I think the most successful businesspeople–those who change the world–are also listening to something deeper and doing something different than what has always been done. Heck, all you have to do is look at people building electric cars right now (passion) vs. the Big 3 car honchos (no passion or vision). David: Yes! Again, the successful business will be the authentic one. Daniel: Good distinction. Kesha: LOL. I am not sure they are different at all. But I wanted to know how others think about them. Leslye: I think it’s interesting that you distinguish the creation part as the career and the marketing part as the business. Would you have a career without the marketing? Sheree: We want to hear more about your art LIFE.
This is too much like which came first the chicken or the egg? LOL!!!
Here are my own beliefs on the matter, for they are worth: I don’t think that ‘business’ and ‘career’ should be perceived as separate any more than ‘marketing’ and ‘sales’ should be perceived as separate. Dividing either is ‘old school’ thinking that definitely can have a negative impact on one’s business and one’s social marketing. You are your business and your business is your career. To divide them might be as bad as saying “I’m a part-time artist. My REAL job is…!” Don’t divide it, rather, OWN it.
Career a definition: A chosen pursuit; a profession or occupation. The general course or progression of one’s working life or one’s professional achievements: an officer with a distinguished career; a teacher in the midst of a long career. A path or course, as of the sun through the heavens. I especially like the above last sentence
It’s been an evolution. In the past: I was a paralegal and my art was a hobby. In the present: In my real life, I’m an artist. I continue to work as a paralegal which pays some bills. But my life’s work is creative expression. In the future: My definition will continue to evolve. I’d like to include helping others pursue creative expression but have yet to define a path for this.
What a fascinating discussion! For me, it’s all bound up together as “life”. When the creative juices are really flowing I can feel myself going deeper and deeper into the process. I make 3D Pop Art, so the process of layering can be completely absorbing, leaving little room for what some folks consider the distractions of business. But when I am out and about showing the work and meeting the folks who are buying it, I can feel similarly alive because the positive feedback is so encouraging. And it’s that feedback which keeps us all going, no? Indeed, I think that if you asked this of any artist who actually makes a living by making art, you’d find that the happiest ones are those who have a wholistic approach, whose instinct is to reject the premise of “vs.” Thanks for the conversation. Of course, it really helps if th