First, we thought of art in the form of artisans, creators, and artistic patrons. These were the wild-eyed creative types that took off on imaginary flights of fancy, but had no eye for business.
Then, art disentangled itself from craft, becoming a unitary concept. Think music, theater, literature, visual arts and even some forms of philosophical speculation and cultural veneration. The artist was a solitary genius; a holy man; an inspired prophet in touch with the esoteric.
Now, as art has become institutionalized, so has the artist. The solitary genius has become the consummate professional. Instead of rushing off to Paris to hole up in a garret and construct a masterpiece, now you go off to graduate school, then off to find a job that fits with your art, rather than the other way around.
Where before you could burst onto the scene with a single amazing work, today you slowly climb the ranks. You accumulate credentials and accolades. You build a portfolio. And while this brave, new world of professional art is certainly safer, is it somehow less exciting?
Perhaps. But perhaps not. Creative entrepreneurship is far more interactive than art in the traditional sense. Today, there is an element of collaboration – both human and machine – that wasn’t possible even 50 years ago, let alone during Da Vinci’s day. Even 3D-printing is quickly establishing its own “artistic cache“.
Indeed, with the wealth of tools now available in our digital age, the cutting edge of business lies in creative entrepreneurship, and that itself is art. Whether you take your inspiration from people already blazing creative paths within established industries or set out on your own journey, business and art need no longer be mutually exclusive principles.
We now live in the era of democratization of taste. No longer is it that the makers only have the means to sell. Now everyone has the means to make. Today, the creative entrepreneur is the solitary genius. Almost anyone has the opportunity to be writer, musician or artist. Through business, art lives on.