Can Art and Business Mix?

Can art and business mix? According to artist Tulu Bayar who focuses on conceptual art, artist sometimes need to think of art as a final product. The “Action Research Series on Deliverables” focused on outcomes and the approach one can take with clients or firms. Professor Matt Baliey and Tulu Bayar were the two panelists and offered very different approaches. Being an artist myself, I choose to focus on Bayar’s approach. The discussion highlighted the uniqueness of the art world and industry. It differs from other industries in that the final product is truly the creators own piece and conception. Most artists do not ask questions on what the piece should look like or take input from the end buyer. Artists do not modify or alter the final product at purchasers wishes. Artists do the work and business follows suit.

How then do business and art interact? Ms. Bayar discussed the supply chain of artists, dealers and purchasers. If the artists decides to sell a piece, he or she contacts their dealer who then sells the piece to collectors, museums, et. The profits are split with 60% going to the artist and 40% going to the dealer. At the time of purchase and contract, the ownership of the piece changes to the purchaser. The artist could also directly sell to vendors or individuals.

This also races questions on how people and art collaborate. Bayar’s work deal with human identity (her latest project focuses on Muslim identity). She stated that her projects are experimentation and that she collaborates with two groups of people: subjects and other artists. She calls her subjects her collaborators because their input is valuable and there needs to be a high level of trust in the relationship. For example, one of her first projects focused on women in Los Angeles who had extensive plastic surgery. The ten women she interview required a high level of trust in her to be respectful and understanding. The final interactive piece was a multi-sensory experience that had visual images inside glass spheres. The piece space was manipulated with curtains and sounds. This lead viewers to walk through the live exhibit. In commenting on her piece, Bayar stated “the more ambiguous you are the better…let’s audience use their imagination.”

The second group she collaborates with are other artists, who give their opinions and feedback. It’s important to listen and be respectful, especially on artist’s working method. Compromise is also sometimes necessary. These comments by Bayar offer contrasting ideas of typical business models, where the clients are the end purchasers of the product. In the conceptual art industry the clients can be seen as the collaborators. The artists form relationships with their subjects and work with them during the construction process. It could be compared to a firm working with clients to create relationships and gain insight.

Featured image from Cianelli Studios (Jason Cianelli)


One thought on “Can Art and Business Mix?”

  1. Your explanation of the business of art neatly summarizes the problems of mixing art with business. They’re opposing mindsets. I feel like just by thinking of art as a deliverable or trying to intermingle business logic into art, the work is diminished


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