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In the beginning, there was art

Updated: Jun 13

A few years ago, when I was studying an MBA, I had a realisation about the way art and artists are perceived by business and business people and how that stunted the growth and appreciation of art for centuries. But, hang on, which came first; business or art?

The problem with young graduates who go on the study an MBA is that they seldom have any experience of business but they acquire bucket loads of theories without ever having worked in or attempted to manage a team, without ever having manufactured or traded anything, without ever having created an experience to communicate an idea or story to an illiterate audience, nor elevated a brand from zero to hero across continents. Artists and other creatives have probably been doing these things for a hundred thousand years.

Creativity is one of the traits that defines us as human. We have made drawings of animals and other humans on rocks and walls, we made beautiful jewellery out of the metals and stones we discovered in the earth, we wove and decorated fabrics, adorned kings and priests, designed and decorated buildings to house our spirits and souls, and most of these things were done by artists, artisans and architects. Where was the business theory back in those days?

Somehow, 'business' has ascended to be the most desirable field of learning (perhaps after medicine and law) and the business people have managed to belittle the creatives because they don't understand business. Parents have become fearful that creative children will never make a 'proper' living (this happened to me) and dissuade them from pursuing passions for art, poetry, music, dance and performance. Who do they think produces all the theatre, TV shows and movies, puts fashion on the runways and high streets, produces the music that provides the sound tracks to our lives, fills our homes with gorgeous textiles and other homewares, turns cow skin into $15,000 handbags?

There is nothing I ever wanted more than to be an artist, to find a way to spill my soul onto some kind of surface with colour, texture and line. Creatives can stir your emotions, spark personal growth, connect hearts and minds and hold a mirror up to our very existence. I doubt that a business graduate can do any of these things on their own - they need the output of creatives, engineers, scientists, food producers, educators and medics to give them a purpose. That purpose seems to be to make more and more profit which is resulting in funding cuts for the creative sectors, exploitation of workers and environments, colonisation of peoples, and the ecological crisis that now presents itself. Very few people have been delighted, moved, inspired or experienced spiritual growth because of the efforts of business people - in fact the opposite has often been the result.

I am so happy to be an artist. I have turned away from all the mockery, survived the criticism, and now know that I am one of the luckiest people alive. I can't wait to rise every morning to face a new challenge, I delight in short conversations with strangers and smile far more than I frown. When I hear about all the miseries in the world that have been created through greed, vanity and lust for dominance, and man's inhumanity to man, I burn up inside, I understand that I truly have nothing to worry about. I live today and make small plans for the future and expect that it will turn out ok one way or another. If I didn't believe that, I could not sustain the optimism to remain a creative visual artist.

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