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“Artful Business” and an Artist with a Day Job

Artful Business by Greg StoneAfter years of being an artist with day job, I’m very good at compartmentalizing my artistic way of thinking (create things of no earthly use, excessive day dreaming, love of the hopelessly esoteric) from my day job way of thinking (just the facts, top down, no data=invalid idea=unbillable). Funny thing, though, as I continue to pursue both tracks, the difference between them blur and overlap in ways useful to each.  

“Artful Business, 50 Lessons from Creative Geniuses” by Greg Stone, former journalist and head of Stone Communications, has a sweet little book connecting fifty works of art and advertising imagery to classic questions about client engagement with product/ service design as well as how brand value is communicated.  

While being useful in clearing away creative blocks, Stone’s book is most helpful as a thought starter and as a list of questions to benchmark your product design and communications.

One idea in the book is the value of leaving the right things out. Stone reminds us that Michelangelo removed all the marble that wasn’t La Pietà. An idea applicable to determining the difference between benefits and features of your offering and communications.  

But like many things in business, the opposite also applies. Stone brings together two different images of Victor Hugo, one by Honorè Daumier, the other a self-portrait. Daumier’s enlargement on Hugo’s forehead accurately matches Hugo’s actual forehead; a possible reflection on Hugo’s superior intellect . These images are used to consider the value of responsibly overstating our point.  A marketer might apply this thinking when designing communication about brand promise through a customer journey map.

Stone’s “Artful Business” is most welcome to us artists with a day job and by extension, our clients.  It’s reassuring that what we know as artists can be useful, even vitally necessary to many aspects of business development and marketing for our clients.  Perhaps now we can begin lowering the walls of our compartmentalized lives.