I was listening to an interview one day with the deeply talented Emily McDowell. She discussed the stellar success of her witty greeting cards and the challenges that went with growing her company. Then she explained why she was backing away.
"I realized that the business side was taking everything," (I paraphrase). "The creative was suffering."
She was losing her creative, my brain heard.
Artists and other creatives are stereotyped as bad business people, and I'm no exception. As a former business strategist, who once coached businesses about growth and market forces and targets and blah blah blah... I'm still a lousy business person when it comes to my own artwork. What gives?
Art and business = oil and water (for me, anyway)
The truth is, the business side of artwork isn't just about using a different part of your brain, or learning different skills, or prioritizing, or scheduling, or freedom, or any of that stuff I've read in books about Art as Business. There's something more fundamental to the way art is made.
When we delve into the silence, or sink into the mystery, or whatever it is we do when we create, our minds change. Colors are brighter; sounds change meaning; shapes shimmer with texture. When we float in that silence, we create something that didn't exist before. Out of nothing, comes creation.
I prefer the oil (who doesn't?), but of course need water
Hovering in that not-space feels like a privilege and an honor, but the state can also be disgustingly coy. Life intrudes, as life does. We vibrate down to normal existence, and the shimmer retreats. We stop creating and re-begin life, right where we left off.
I imagine for some artists, those transitions can be painful, or easy, or delightful, or the whole range of human experience. For me, transitioning back to normal feels disorienting and difficult. I also quiver with a small terror that I'll never again be able to return to the silence. The quiver passes, and I do return again and again, but the memory of fear lingers.
I try to make it Oil and Vinegar, with mixed results (har har)
So I wonder if the hatred/fear/reluctance toward the business side of art is really about losing the creative, and the fear of losing it permanently. What if you can never vibrate and shimmer and create again?
What are your experiences with living in that shimmer? Have you figured out how to balance business and creativity? I want to hear from you in the comments!