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Can Business and Art Go Hand in Hand?: The Dilemma of the Entrepreneur and the Artist

Updated: Jul 21, 2021

Reason and emotion, intuition and logic: these are abstract concepts that we often try to understand by putting them in opposition to each other. However, when you think about it, there is no emotion without reason, and deep logical thinking can lead to sharp intuition. Often when you delve into each concept separately, you realize that they are deeply connected to each other.

Business and art may be one such category. Many people vaguely believe that business and art have an incompatible relationship. If you want to succeed as a business, you should not pursue art. There are probably just as many people who feel somewhat reluctant to use art to make money.

At first glance, a translation agency tends to be seen as a logical business, but we always struggle with the question of compromising on creativity in the limited time we have, or whether we should take more time to make something better.

In this article, we would like to focus on this "business and art" issue that artists, creators, and performers face, and how we can come to terms with how these two issues come together.

The work style of James Cameron

When hearing the name of this film director, there are few who would say, "I don't know him." So, how would you classify him? A businessman? An artist?

There is no doubt that he has been extremely successful as a businessman. His movies "Avatar" (2009) and "Titanic" (1997) are ranked second and third, respectively, in the world's all-time box-office rankings.

Is it possible to say he isn’t an artist? Both "Avatar" and "Titanic" are originals, not adaptations or sequels of other works. James Cameron wrote the screenplays himself. He is also famous for his cinematography, which is very camera oriented and has a lot of depth.

Pursuing “right” more than “perfect”

So, how does Cameron come to terms with the interplay between business and art? Here is what he has to say about his work style:

“People call me a perfectionist, but I'm not. I'm a rightist. I do something until it’s right, and then I move on to the next thing.”

These words indicate how he manages his success as both a businessman and an artist. As an artist, he does not strive for creative perfection, and as a businessman, he does not strive for commercial success. He does what is "right." It is hard to know how James Cameron defines "right," but it is obvious that he values methods and processes more than the results of his work.

To be right is to trust your own intuition

For example, the following compilation video tells the story of how Cameron was fired for disagreeing with the producers during the filming of "Piranha II: Flying Killers."

When deciding whether to accept a job or not, or how to finish a job already committed to, it is natural to consider how it might lead to the next job with the same client. It is also understandable that in the case of creative work, it is important to have your own particular style. However, if you focus only on either "the other person" or "yourself," you may lose sight of how far you should go.

However, if we, like James Cameron, have our own "right" way of doing things, we can find satisfaction if we follow that path, no matter what the outcome. This is one way of reconciling business and art.

Learn visionary thinking

The question is how to establish your own "right" way of doing things.

Kunitake Saso, author of the book titled VISION DRIVEN: How to Connect Intuition and Logic (Diamond Inc., 2019), was originally a "left-brained" marketing professional with a scientific approach based on data, who later studied design at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Saso works with people but does not want to live only in the visible, real world. He says that it is necessary to cultivate one’s imagination, visualize images, and express them in the "unseen underground world" to develop one’s originality. By moving back and forth between these two worlds, he says, one can develop "visionary thinking.” And when that happens, one can say, "This is good," even when there is no evidence to support it.

In the end, we may have to go through trial and error, moving back and forth between "reason and emotion" and "intuition and logic" in order to find our own "rightness.” However, if one continues such a process, it is possible to find that feeling that Saso refers to that "feels right."

It all starts with a dream.

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Born in Japan, Kawai moved to China in 2008 to study the Chinese language in Chengdu, Sichuan province. Later, he deepened his learning in Hunan and Jiangsu provinces through close interaction with locals. He then spent a year and a half in Ghana, Africa, working to master English and the local language, Tui. Forced to return to Japan due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he now lives in Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan.

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Originally from Ohio, USA, Bailey is an experienced freelance editor and copywriter, especially for technical and scientific content. With an MA in English and a background in science, he also has more than 20 years of experience in teaching English around the world.

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