Ars gratia artis, no more

A couple of months ago, I was trying to convince a friend that going to art galeries, museums and the opera can help him become a better entrepreneur. He argued that there’s absolutely no ROI for spending time in such places, that they bore him to death and he’d rather spend the little free time he has in some other way. Ars gratia artis (latin for “Art is the reward of art”) didn’t convince him, so I tried selling the fact that “such places” train one’s eye to appreciate beauty in a way that can influence their company’s design aesthetics.

But there’s much more to art than meets the eye. Many of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world have an almost innate ability to make parallels between seemingly incomparable subjects. Take, for example, Ben Horowitz’s parallel between Freaky Friday and the problems the Sales Engineering and Customer Support teams had in one of his companies, or Jack Dorsey’s legendary analogy between the traffic on Golden Gate Bridge and Square’s money flow. They both learned something by watching a movie or gazing at the Golden Gate Bridge and made a brilliant parallel that massively impacted their businesses.

On that same note, one of the things we pride ourselves with at Brainient is our reports. They are gorgeous, undoubtedly influenced by our admiration for all things pretty. I hate to be blowing our own horn, but they’re so beautiful that clients talk about them with other people in the industry, which brings more business our way. Who would have ever thought a beautiful .pdf can generate sales?

I think there’s a lot we can learn from art that can directly impact our businesses. It’s all about training the eye to observe and educating the brain to make unexpected associations between subjects and areas with no apparent connection. It doesn’t come easy if you’re not Ben Horowitz or Jack Dorsey, but it’s an invaluable skill once you get the hang of it.