Study Art

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The greatest thinkers and the greatest businesspeople have a passion for some kind of art.

It’s easy to get all smug about a comment like that and think to yourself, "it’s easy for successful people to have a passion for art, because they’re the ones who are rich enough to buy it… and have the time to spend on it." That’s a myth. Whether it’s art, music, dance, photography, architecture or literature, it’s easy to have a passion for any of these art forms on the cheap. No, I’m not talking about making a yearly pilgrimage to a museum or stepping into an art gallery on a busy tourist street as your commitment to the arts. You can watch documentaries about artists, you can read books about them and you can – without question – consume a ton of content about any type of art that interests you online.

Having a passion for art with make you smarter, richer and more creative.

Sadly, many people think that enjoying art (and having a passion for it) is for when you have nothing else to do. Make the study of art a priority in your life… and watch your life change. I’m quirky. The art I enjoy runs the gamut from heavy metal music to comic books and from the stuff I see on Lost At E Minor (hat-tip to Arjun Basu for pointing that gem of a site out to me) to reading books and watching documentaries on artists (everyone from architects to stand-up comedians). You’re probably laughing at me, because you think that art can only be associated to names like Degas, Monet or Astaire. Not true. I get more out of listening to a Miles Davis album than I do out of watching a symphony orchestra (though I can appreciate both) and I get more out of reading an issue of Batman from the 1960s than I do looking at an exhibit from Keith Haring (though I can appreciate both). Art is amazing because you can chose your own adventure.

Don’t just consume it. Study it.

The real trick of making art interesting is not in the mild consumption of it… it’s in studying it. Watch a documentary about DC Comics or the history of Batman, and you’ll understand the creative inspiration behind it, the challenges in getting the idea and concept to spread, the business foibles and mis-steps, etc… If you think it’s hard to get people to buy your concepts in a meeting, start studying the history and background of some of the world’s greatest artists and you’ll soon realize how easy the majority of us have it. Where this will hopefully lead you is to two unique places:

  1. You will think more creatively. Learning about what inspires the great artists to create will definitely inspire you to think in a more creative way. And, if the world needs anything at this point in business, it is people who can think more creatively.
  2. You will realize that your work can (and should be) your art. I always felt a little uneasy about saying that my writing for this Blog was the art that I was meant to do or that the ideas that our company, Twist Image, brings to our clients in the Marketing sphere is my art. It made me feel pompous… or full of myself. Reading Seth Godin‘s book, Linchpin, changed that for me (and if you have not read it yet, you should!).

If you study art, what I hope you will soon realize (beyond developing a deeper level of creativity and passion) is that your work is your art as well. If it’s not, it should be.


  1. Love this post.
    Art is like travelling. It opens up your world to new perspectives.
    But, like travelling, there are those that place value on the number of places they can say they’ve been to (if it’s Tuesday, it must be Rome) and those that prioritize experiencing the places they visit.
    Thanks for this Sunday morning mind breakfast.

  2. This is one of the reasons I read your blog, because you don’t write what’s trending. Great point of view, and I completely agree. My first thought after reading this was that i can also apply this theory to history. History is all about storytelling, and by reading up on history you can open your mind to art of storytelling.

  3. Great advice Mitch! I agree with Alec too; a study of history simply makes you a more interesting person. My particular passion now is history of the 60s – and that doesn’t just mean rock music. There are more and more excellent books out lately covering those turbulent times, well worth the read. Google Timothy Leary, for example.

  4. Through my paintbrushes I have learned to see the world in an entirely different way and found how easy it is to persuade others when my heart is in my art.
    And speaking of amazing art, I had the pleasure of listening and watching Miles Davis live and marveled how the man took the audience places and enchanted them, while he played (for most of the performance) with his back to to us.
    Thanks Mitch – thoughtful piece!

  5. Great post Mitch. And as someone who grew up during one of the greatest artistic explosions into the marketplace of the last 30 years (hip hop during the 80’s) I can definitely appreciate your center of gravity on this.
    Additionally Jean Michele Basquiat (protoge of Andy Warhol) is a great artist to check out. Awesome creative mind to become familiar with and an interesting lens to look through for “artistic” driven thinkers –

  6. Mitch,
    Thanks for sharing this with the readers. We all need constant inspiration to create new things and this post is absolutely what I needed.
    Much appreciated!

  7. I would suggest we take it one step further and do art. There is something profound about taking a lump of clay and turning it into a quirky (my skills are not here, just passion) gift to give.
    Many of our lives are full of on-going work and it is satisfying to have projects that take us out of our lives and give us a sense of completion.
    Plus everything else you said.

  8. I knew I picked the right major!
    I studied fine arts and computer animation in my college days, and though I am not a “professional artist” by trade, I will say that studying the arts has paid off.
    Art is communication, and as a Director of Social Web Communications, I am always looking for creative ways to help our clients do just that. I’m not pinned downed by common practices, and I am always looking for something out of the box. Studying art improved my problem solving skills, and how to present my ideas to an audience.
    Studying anything creative stretches the mind and helps one in this now demanding world for flexible talent.

  9. Wonderful post. So true and so inspiring. It’s easy to forget that everything we love relates to our business if we allow it to. There is so separateness, but one continuous flow of genius and creativity when we are open to it.

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