*All images in this post are the work of Joshua Granberg and are used here by his permission.
Art and business have been closely linked ever since the avant-garde movement of the early 20th century. Andy Warhol once said, “Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”
Why are art and business so closely connected? Because business is a creative endeavor. The heart of the business person and entrepreneur is the heart of a creative individual.
Business is the same. We take the imagined, the dreams, the “big why” of our future business and pull it from the place of imagination into reality. Then we use the art of business to connect our product or service to the customers we want to impact. The artwork of the business person is the company they build, and creativity is the key to that success.Art is a bridge connecting the temporal with the eternal, the tangible with the imaginary, the seen with the unseen. It spans the distance between two souls — the artist’s and the viewer’s — and hopes to bring their worlds a little closer together.
While good business is the best art, it can also use art. Art in the workplace sparks creativity and creativity increases productivity, transcends boundaries, encourages critical thinking and fosters innovation. Without these elements, businesses will struggle to realize their dreams. Business can, and should, use the bridge that art creates in three ways.
1. Vision and Reality
The first takes place within the heart of the entrepreneur. A successful business cannot exist separate from a focused entrepreneur. Art can focus the vision of who the entrepreneur wants to be and connect it with reality.
The portrait is an avenue for this. A painted portrait is a complex combination of the sitter and the painter, the present and the future, the physical and the spiritual. It differs from portrait photography in that a painting presents the complete and timeless qualities, personality and expression of the individual as opposed to a moment in time.
The finite image on a stretched canvas contains the infinite expression of a complex human being, and places them on a field of immortality. The entrepreneur strives to make a difference in the world. They want to leave a legacy that others can look to and be inspired by.
The summative process of portrait painting combines four main areas of life: family, occupation, recreation and meaning. Combining these elements into a single painting allows the sitter to present to the world a complete rendering of both who they are and who they aspire to be. The legacy they leave behind is sculpted from these four elements of their life and when they understand who they are and where they come from, they can impact the lives of those they work with at a much deeper level. They inspire others to be and do more than they thought possible.
An entrepreneur can raise the possibility of success in their business by first truly understanding where they come from and who they want to be. The vision that comes from the summative process of having a portrait painted can help lead their business to success.
2. Workplace and Employee
The second bridge art can create in a business is between the workplace and the employee.
Businesses like Google, Facebook and Lyft have created workspaces so full of art they can be listed among the great galleries of the world. They commission portraits, installations and sculptures that strengthen and communicate their vision to their employees and to the world at large.
The workspaces themselves have been intentionally designed to spark creativity by blurring the lines between play and work, indoors and nature, solitude and community.
Remember, art in the workplace sparks creativity and creativity increases productivity, transcends boundaries, encourages critical thinking and fosters innovation. These are foundational elements to a successful business in today’s fast-paced, information world.
3. Business and Customer
The final bridge that art forms in a business is the one on display for all to see: the bridge between the business and the customer. When you think of businesses like Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Apple and Microsoft, what is the first thing that comes to mind? It’s not a mission statement or value proposition. It is an image. An image that is quickly followed by an emotion. The language of art speaks at a level far deeper than the spoken or written word. It speaks to the subconscious. When a business uses intentional, consistent, high-quality design to encounter a customer visually throughout the buyer's journey, they are able to speak to them at a level far deeper than the mind — to the level of the soul.
The relationship between art and business may have begun in the early 20th century, but in today’s world of information and entrepreneurial spirit, they have become inseparable. Maria Popova, founder of Brian Pickings, said, “Art can speak so subtly that it forces us to think more deeply, feel more fully, engage more wholeheartedly.”
Good business is the best art, and art is the bridge that connects dreams to reality, workplace to employee and business to customer. How are you, as a business person, using the most powerful communication medium we have to communicate your dreams and legacy?
What would take your business to the next level?
About the Author
Joshua Granberg is a classically trained artist who was born in Kenya, Africa. The raw, natural beauty that surrounded his home whet his appetite for the visual arts from an early age, and he spent much of his childhood drawing those surroundings.
At nine, he moved with his family to Lubbock, TX, where they lived for three years before settling in Portland, OR. As a teenager, Joshua took art lessons at school as well as summer classes from Pacific Northwest College of Art. After graduating high school, he attended Harding University in Searcy, AR, where he earned a BA and BFA before heading to Italy to train at the Florence Academy of Art for four years.
Joshua now lives in Issaquah with his wife, Bethany, and works as a professional artist.
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