The Arts in the New Age of Entrepreneurship

Faced with such challenges, however, they often rely on several techniques to achieve their goals. Interviewing an artist-entrepreneur I know, and gathering stories and suggestions from across the artistic community, I have come to find that the use of any of these three techniques can have valuable benefits for a young artist-entrepreneur in our modern age.

 1. Hunting

The hardest part of any hunt – as many might tell you – is facing one failure and not allowing it to convince you that the arts are not your area of expertise, that your parents were right and that you should have become a law doctor of business like they had always told you. While a bit of business knowledge may come in handy, all you need most of the time is determination and self-reflection. Determination is necessary for a person to know that giving up will only make things worse, and that if the world is not ready for the music of ectoplasm-cleaning Roombas, then perhaps it just needs to be pitched to another part of the world. However, after a certain amount of time, when your music has received no attention for months, everyone needs to step back and evaluate their work.

It is imperative for an artist to be able to reflect on what they are doing and self-criticise. Often, an artist – especially an entrepreneur-artist – will have nobody readily available to edit, comment or critique their work all the time. An artist must take it on themselves to critique, and by doing so, improve their work. Perhaps ectoplasm just does not connect with a modern audience, and by dropping it and adding full-sized vacuums, the Vacuum Concierto Movement will find some interest where Away, Floorboard Phantoms! could not – assuming your two band monikers were as such.

The point of this absurd example is that the hunt is a humbling process. Few artists are found right away; the vast majority are still looking for recognition alone in a massive field. For a moment, consider dropping the “alone” part. I do not mean bringing someone else in to do the same thing as you – although that can be helpful for criticism – but rather getting another person to assist you from the side, or encourage you, or to bounce ideas off. All artists require a network – as we shall discuss soon. But even in the preliminary stages, it can be extraordinarily helpful to have some encouragement.

Creative work can make a person very vulnerable. An artist is sharing a part of him or herself with other people and then waiting for their criticism. Once you surmount the necessary first step of taking action, an artist-entrepreneur has to expose his or her work with poise and confidence, resisting the urge to quit or back down despite difficulty or failure. Anne Bogart, the author of A Director Prepares and the propagator of numerous valuable acting methods, once discussed “resistance” in her book A Director Prepares. In this work, she argues that the “action of pushing against resistance is a daily act and … a necessary ingredient in the creative process.”

Consider that fact during your hunt, and even as you find success: an artist’s work is as indebted to its resistances as it is hindered. Without resistance, avant-garde work would not be as profound; expressions of great frustration would not be as authentic. Most of all, a person cannot simply wait for the resistance to pass, but rather grasp it and use it as a springboard. The first step in doing so, according to Bogart, lies in recognizing the presence of resistances and their use in the creative endeavour: “Resistance demands thought, provokes curiosity and mindful alertness, and, when overcome and utilized, eventuates in elation.

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