When building a business, the customer comes first. When creating art, the customer comes last. I’ll explain. A business can only sustain itself if it has paying customers. Therefore, the way to build a business is to: (1) identify a significant customer problem
Love this Andy. I've been thinking a lot about the career path of artist vs. entrepreneur (w/ people managing component) or some combination. Once you begin to taste living from creating from divine spontaneity, it really is how you want to spend majority of your time. It's so wondrous and magical. It seems to come alive in artistic things vs. people things for me. Wondering if that's unique to me or just a more practical charecteristic of the different forms of creation. It seems like many founders I know are having similar realizations and running a big company with constant fires is less appealing relative to living in artistic flow. Interesting stuff! Thanks for writing this
Hey Andy - Thank you for sharing this! It rings true for my personal experience, particularly around writing: I've recently realized that my skills in functional, business writing (where the goal is efficacy) made it more difficult for me to produce creative, artistic writing (where the goal is expression). Through many years of honing my skills as a marketer, I learned to anchor everything on the interests and needs of potential customers. But my fixation on identifying a specific audience and and optimizing for them actually stifled my personal creativity. It's still hard for me to answer the question, "What do I want to say?" without immediately reverting to "What do they want to hear?"
The irony I've found is that expressing something that is deeply true or meaningful to you often forges a profound connection with others, even though that's not the intention.
For what it's worth, reading "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron was an eye-opener for me, in figuring this out.
Hey Andy! Love what you do, and I hope you won't take this the wrong way —
I liked what you wrote about balancing the intuitive with the analytical, but as someone who spent most of my life making art and is now a software engineer / founder, I have a bit of a bone to pick with the assumption that all artists create from a void, through intuition, and without an end viewer in mind.
Some might, but if you look throughout art history you will find work with clear goals and a clear audience (e.g. The Sistine Chapel and other religious works, Picasso's Guernica, most of Felix Gonzalez-Torres's work). Both artists and founders do work with goals in mind, often for known viewers (although most artists don't do a market analysis), and with those viewers' feedback (e.g. in critique and showings or in through user interviews and testing).
I would argue that creating art and founding a company are more similar that you might think, just with different goals in mind. Mirroring your ABCs of making a business, for some artists the problem often looks more like:
(1) identify a source of inspiration or subject you want to draw attention to, or get a requested commission (which may come with it's own goals of what the art should convey)
(2) create work that inspires awe, highlights the issue at hand, or satisfies the person who requested the commission
(3) find a way to exhibit the work (galleries, on the street, online, to the person who requested the commission)
(4) make income off of this work either through sale, commissions, donations, etc
Which looks pretty similar to the ABCs of business. In other words, while businesses are customer-first, art is more viewer-first (who might not always be your customers). And while artists may not always be creating to resolve some customer problem, they are often making work for an audience, with the goal of affecting or swaying them in some way.
I agree wholeheartedly. I think art is a spiritual process, the allowing of something to emerge from within. For me and my writing, nothing is planned. I prompt it with a question and wait for the answer to start flooding out from behind it.
The way you juxtapose the differences between business and art is also really interesting timing.
Everywhere I look right now I'm seeing two, essentially contradictory concepts coming together to catalyze and create new, higher orders or states of being. Through our species evolution I see this through what I call the "concurrency" of an awakening spiritual transcendence as well as the technological one; together I think it is only a matter of time before we ascend over all limitation.
Again, I think society is shifting in consciousness, becoming less either-or, black-and-white, to both-and. From that understanding, I think everything you said is spot-on. Thanks for sharing.
I'm so glad you got this written down. It's a super inspiring connection I've already been using!