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Business as Art, Art as Business

June 16, 2009

Have you ever watched business people on a busy downtown street from the window of a tall building? They look like some magical costumed play happening just for you. Everyone is dressed the same; blue suits, gray suits, black suits….all artfully twisting and maneuvering around each other like a dance, all pretending they are the only one on the street. They move with signals and colored lights and they follow the rhythm and pace set by their directors. NSAP1231_LARGE

8:00am: Act One… Set up the story for the following acts…

12:00pm: Intermission… Time for a quick bite….

1:00pm: Act 2…Wrap up the story, or perhaps leave it hanging for another tale?

5:00pm Curtain Call….Take your bows, hope no one noticed that you missed a bit in Act One

….after party….meet with friends, discuss Act One’s flubs….hope for better tomorrow….

Tomorrow: Repeat.

What is business if not a vast, endless blank canvas waiting to be filled with beauty, with life, with profit? What if we stopped ‘starting businesses’, and started ‘creating businesses’? How could this subtle change move our collective needle from what we know works, to what we had no idea was even possible?

So, why can’t business be art? Beautiful, lively, creative? And more importantly, what does this have to do with sustainability?

Think about it. What are the most lasting indicators we have of bygone eras? They are not the spreadsheets and the human resource manuals, they are the brilliant and expressive works of artists, designers, and magical, creative people who were able to capture a mythbusters-mona-lisa-paintballmoment in time with the stroke of a brush, the slant of a shoulder pad, the snip of a perfect coif, or tip of a pen. This is REAL sustainability. Indelible images of color and hope, there to show us where we’ve been and what (or what not) to do next.

So what if your business was designed, not started? What if your customers were opportunities to create great andbrunopietersplastique wonderful things that will last a lifetime because of their splendor?….and not simply another revenue stream?

To clearly understand how art, sustainability, and business fit together, first you have to get your head around what each means individually. Since all of these are very subjective terms, I am going with what my personal definitions are.

Art: The color we paint the world with. The blues of the gray areas between black and white. The sound of a perfect song, the smell of a perfect meal. Art is the thing that makes you soul sing and your heart dance.

110_Bear River Lodge Main photoSustainability: Living your life (or running your business) in such a way that you do not prevent future generations from doing the same.

Business: The wheels on the bus that takes us to the place where all things are possible. Our livelihood. The way we spend most of our life, and the thing we understand least.

So what if your business was designed not only to take you where you want to go, but also leave and indelible imprint on the planet and our culture that continued to be a valuable, enriching,  and thriving force for generations to come?

True sustainability must be beautiful, delightful, and creative, or it will just become another lost idea that we collectively leave behind.

So I ask….what’s beautiful and creative about your business?

-illana

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. severnyproductions permalink
    June 16, 2009 3:59 pm

    Art does exist as a tool within the business world in the form of advertising. This is to get a competetive edge over other business and in todas financial climate. Being on step ahead is more important now than ever before.

    • DefiningGreen permalink*
      June 16, 2009 8:25 pm

      Thanks for your comment! I’m guessing you are in advertising. Though I find it true that advertising has the potential to be a valuable and relevant art form, I find it equally true that it usually (and unfortunately) isn’t. I would love to hear your thoughts on why I’m wrong;).

  2. June 19, 2009 9:23 am

    Your comments about the all inclusive business are grea. It brings to mind only one business that I know of that I would say strives to accomplish what you have stated (because it is a rarity of mindset), Cafe Gratitude in the Bay Area. They strive for a sustainable experience from their wait staff all the way to the customers. And of course, the food and how it is grown, prepared and served. I read their book. I don’t recall the exact name of it…might be “Cafe Gratitude”, I can’t remember. But I found it enlightening how they handled and grew their business. Definitely a model that other businesses should strive for.

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