The Review: Can Creativity And Business Coexist?

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Tattooed lady looking at an elephant photograph for article by Larry G. Maguire

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The weekly newsletter from The Creative Mind

In short, yes, of course, they can. And they do, but for many creative people, turning their labour of love into cold hard cash is a struggle if not an impossibility. And if you are introverted like me, then selling yourself has more than a tinge of nasty about it.

I first started in business in 1991, and despite my opinions on the questionable nature of the business world, I managed to build something reasonably substantial. Nevertheless, I held myself to particular standards of what constituted proper business ethics. I worked in the trades, with construction companies, engineers, private businesses etc. And although perhaps it would not have been considered a creative endeavour, I didn’t see it that way. On the contrary, creative integrity was high on my agenda and doing my best work was primary. The hands-on technical work is what I enjoyed most. It was my creative outlet.

I despised attending networking events and seminars, but I forced myself to go. Someone told me it was necessary. Everywhere in the room, business people were selling a story, a fib, a lie. They painted a picture that they believed would help them sell more stuff people didn’t need. In business to business circles, this translates into a vicious circle where companies buy from each other in a vain attempt to maintain the spoof. I hated the counterfeit nature of it all.

You see in my book, marketing is simply the manipulation of people and conditions by those who pursue arbitrary concepts of wealth. Corporations’ marketing departments know more about what makes you and me tick than we do ourselves, and they take full advantage of that. Business bottom line is primary, and they are prepared to take whatever measures necessary within the “law” to get you to buy. As such, they pretend, and we are hypnotised by their bright shiny things and men in red ties.

Is there no one real any more?

Is there nobody in business prepared to tell the truth?

The entire concept of marketing is built on deliberately selling to people’s emotions, and it’s the capitalist model for success. Manipulation and dishonesty have become normalised. No wonder then the solo creative like you and me, holding to a high degree of integrity, shies away from marketing’s pretentious rituals.

So what to do?

How can we sell with integrity and not become lost in the bullshit?

The reality is there’s nothing we can do about everyone else. There will always be those who wish to manipulate us for profit. So the only thing we can do is remain centred and focused on the work. Once it’s made, we show people — it’s that simple. Show them as often as possible and trust that the work will speak for itself.

Eventually, we begin to figure out the best places to show our work and the best people who have the money to support us. It’s not easy; it’s not supposed to be. So get stuck in, trust the process and build a sustainable business of one around your creative work.

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