Belinda's Bash

Belinda Naylor-Stables

Putting Art and Design to Work

If you have the art bug – you just have to do art somehow. If you push it to the back of your mind it will push its way to the front at some point - with a vengeance. We artists have to do it. However, it is very common for artists to need another source of income – because art sales can be unpredictable. Is there a way to bring creativity and earning a crust together? Why not allow creativity and design to bring added value to the other work you’re doing? Surely it gives you an edge…

The way an artist sees…

The sheer variety in art shows how different the world looks through each individual’s eyes. I like to think that being an artist makes me wiser – gives me more understanding about how our brains and emotions actually work for and against us. For example, I know from painting and drawing that I see what I look for. If I concentrate on a landscape and want to see brighter colours – brilliant hues begin to creep out of the shapes of lanes, hedgerows and hills. If I want to see pattern – lovely floral and leaf designs emerge. If I look for heads in the shapes of trees - suddenly the green man’s features appear in a shrub or between the branches of an oak. Our brains adjust in the same way in everyday dealings with people. We find what we look for in them. If we expect behaviours to pick fault with we find them. If we look for the positive and good in people we can find that instead. And of course the latter mindset creates a supportive and constructive workplace – one that’s more enjoyable for everyone.

Another example of the artist’s special way of seeing is the ability to visualize. This ability to draw or map out what you or other people are thinking, is another of those skills that easily transfers to a business setting. If you can’t visualize what you want to achieve at work how will you ever explain it to others or know when you’ve got there?

The YouTube video ‘Creativity as a life skill, a talk by Gerard Puccio, expands this idea. 

The way a designer sees...

I studied an MA in Design in 2006 – but I’ve found a shortcut: ‘The Stanford Design Thinking Virtual Crash Course’ on YouTube. This normally takes 10 weeks to teach and here you can do the same in a couple of hours. It’s a training session designed for a pair – so find a partner to go through it with you. And you need this worksheet too.

“And design’s time has come,” says the book I’ve found which brilliantly maps out the process for any designer or manager trying to find that route to creativity and innovation for business. The book is called ‘Designing for Growth: a design thinking tool kit for managers’ (Columbia University Press, 2011) by Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie. So if there’s anyone out there wondering about whether their design skills are transferable – or if there’s a business out there wondering what artists and designers can do for them - this highly practical book could be handy. And it’s much cheaper than an MA!

Grab the life raft…

I haven’t got the space to quote all the people who say that British businesses need innovation. Many business gurus advocate design processes in business to find the  customer insights that lead to real innovation – it’s not a new idea. However, it seems to be taking a while to catch on! So I’d just add to business out there – get a sense of urgency! No need to throw your spreadsheets and flipcharts out of the boat – but  quickly, for the love of your customers, pull design on board!. And to artists and designers swimming about – you are the ones with the life raft!

If anyone has experience of using design or art approaches in organisations let us know. See the article on art and science to find a possible opportunity to link with business.


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