Think like an artist

What happens in business is not much different than the process a serious artist must undertake.

I recently watched an interview with Seth Godin, best selling author, respected marketer and much sought after industry speaker. His marketing blog has been reported to be the most popular in the world written by an individual. His books have been translated into more than 30 languages.

In the interview, among other topics, he called for marketers and business owners to begin thinking like an artist. As art plays a major role in my business interests, this was something that struck home.

Art is not some wild-eyed undisciplined endeavour. The serious artist, whether visual or performing, goes through an intense process of seeing, thinking, doing and redoing in order to come up with a finished product.

Along the way they think about the way colours, sounds or movements work with each other. They think about design, composition, techniques and the integration of ideas so that they will convey a story that will get a reaction.

Famed social scientists Jacob Getzels and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi were searching for the root cause of creativity in the ’60s. Their quest brought them to the Art Institute of Chicago where they watched students preparing to draw a still life by arranging objects on a table.

They observed that one group of artists examined relatively few objects, outlined their idea and moved quickly to do their drawing. On the other hand another group handled more objects, moved them about, turned them one way, then another and needed more time to finish their drawing.

They concluded that the first group was trying to solve the problem by technically producing a good drawing. The second group on the other hand was trying to find out what the problem was and then render the best drawing they could produce.

They called this second group ‘the finders’ and in follow up studies of these same people, done 18 years later, confirmed that these finders were generally the better and more successful artists.

Additional research by them and others further proved that people most disposed to creative breakthroughs in art, science, business or any other endeavour tended to fall within this finder group. They experiment more, search for different combinations, show flexibility in their approach and are willing to change course if the situation calls for it.

Another lesson to be learned from the world of art is that art is targeted. The styles that artists work in will not appeal to everyone and the artist recognizes this fact.

An example Godin used was how Joshua Bell, a star violinist, said he could pack Carnegie Hall at $100 a ticket but outside of that environment he could put on a baseball cap, take the subway and no one would recognize him. It is all about knowing your target audience and what appeals to them.

What happens in business is not much different than the process a serious artist must undertake. You need to know who you are, do research that will point you in the right direction, know what you want to say, who you want to say it to, be willing to experiment and if necessary adapt to a changing environment.

Thinking and acting like an artist can offer some insight on how we can bring our passions and business to life. Artists in the simplest terms are good at finding what gives them satisfaction, and joy, and then work towards finding opportunities and techniques to build on their talents. Building a business is no different.

Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached via email at

Just Posted

No injuries after vehicle knocks boat into house

Alcohol and speed may have been a factor

Preliminary inquiry for Island resident facing numerous charges in Comox Valley shooting

A 27-year-old Saanich resident had his preliminary hearing in Courtenay Wednesday as… Continue reading

VIDEO: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

VIDEO: Leaf Compassion celebrates legalization in Courtenay

Leaf Compassion in Courtenay celebrated the official legalization of marijuana in Courtenay… Continue reading

Man injured in Vancouver Island racetrack accident meets, holds son for first time

Kayden was born the day after Jonathan was crushed by car at speedway

Mellow opening to B.C.’s only legal pot shop

About five people lined up early for the opening of the BC Cannabis Store in Kamloops.

Jagmeet Singh says marijuana pardons are not enough

Trudeau government will streamline pardon process for Canadians convicted of simple possession of marijuana in the past

Caregivers banned from smoking, growing cannabis around children-in-care: MCFD

Ministry has limited cannabis use for caregivers, stating it may “pose a risk to children and youth.”

Cheaper strains sell out within minutes on online BC Cannabis Store

Province says new strains will become available in the coming months

Only 40% of B.C. car dealerships have electric cars available: report

Researchers found buyers frustrated at the lack of options

VIDEO: Millionaire Lottery returns to give back and win big

Since 1996, Millionaire Lottery has raised $52 million for the VGH+UBC Hospital Foundation

Test case challenges a politician’s right to block people from Twitter account

3 people say Watson infringed their constitutional right to freedom of expression by blocking them

‘A little odd’ B.C.’s biggest city celebrates cannabis without a legal store

On the streets of downtown Vancouver, notably the Wild West of illegal marijuana, not a single legal store opened Wednesday, making for a rather anticlimatic kick-off

Most Read