Business acumen for artists
Dave Duarte is no fan of the ‘starving artist’ archetype. The CEO of learning and teaching company Treeshake and Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum believes “the story of the struggling artist has gone on long enough”.
“We don’t treat the artistic and creative disciplines with the same current economic respect as we do so many other disciplines, and yet artists can be just as impactful and transformative as entrepreneurs and businesses – if not more so,” says Duarte, who together with Elaine Rumboll, MD of The Creative Leadership Consultancy, teaches artists how to reject the myth of the ‘starving artist’ by becoming successful creators and makers. Both Duarte and Rumboll are facult y members of t he UCT Graduate School of Business.
“Each year we get about 30 to 40 artists from a range of different disciplines − sculpture and f ine art to graphic design and product design and video or writing or comedy. People with a diverse range of disciplines come together to learn the basic business skills that aren’t taught,” Duarte says. “This problem was identified by Elaine as critically important because fundamentally, practicing artists are creative entrepreneurs − they enter the business market and have to fend for themselves.
“We’re disrupting the ‘starving artist’ myth by dealing with misconceptions that are deeply ingrained in the culture of arts. One of these fantasies is that being commercially oriented undermines the integrity of one’s work. Myths like these are deeply held misconceptions that are perhaps even taught at art and/ or design schools and become criticisms of art or artists. Culturally artists who are commercially successful can be seen as sell-outs or lacking integrity, which is nonsense,” he adds. Duarte – who serves on Endeavor’s Venture Corps and in so doing helps the organisation achieve its goal of supporting high-impact entrepreneurs across the world – explains that it doesn’t make sense for society to enable athletes or l awyers or accountants to be professional while expecting artists to suffer and starve. “We are ‘conscientising’ and changing the creative space by showing people how making money is not the opposite of doing good art,” he says.
ANTS BECOME A GIANT SUCCESS
“At times, my studio is so chaotic that I need to clear
a 12 x 12 cm space on my desk amidst the pile of papers, paints, plants and figurines just to be able to
work,” says Lorraine Loots.