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How a Corporate Job Added Perspective to My Art

Updated: Jan 8, 2021

Stay with me here. While being an artist all along there have been other roles I have played in the past that have helped me appreciate art better. Well there was a parallel universe to support this passion. My long line of corporate jobs in customer service. Regardless of what flavor of role I played there are a few principles or values that I imbibed into the artistic life. Before I delve into those let me share some background on my corporate journey.

By playing to my strengths I gravitated mostly towards customer facing roles, solving software problems for people, hiring the best teams and making my customers see the value in the product or the service they have purchased. Somewhere along the way I realized the immense pleasure I was deriving out of making people successful, whether it was my employees or my customers.

Back to what I promised to discuss. What perspectives have my jobs brought to my art?

1. Express without inhibitions: I am an extrovert (have I mentioned that before?) which means I am overly expressive in everything I do. As the great Pablo Picasso once said "the chief enemy of creativity is 'good' sense". I have been unapologetically honest with my customers in a corporate setting if I find a suggestion or a direction that is not aligned with their end goal. After all you want them to be successful. Same applies to art. As an artist especially for commissioned art projects I discuss various options and angles. Of course there are endless possibilities and no idea is wrong. Artwork externalizes the unconscious and makes tacit knowledge visible and that can be only achieved through freedom of expression.

2. Stay authentic: Wether its being a software customer service representative or an artist be genuine. Learn from your community or your team. Be curious, ask questions and stay authentic. I have been a lifelong learner who constantly gets surprised at off beat ideas from the most unexpected places. There is beauty in being raw and vulnerable. Live by the truth of what you believe and make sure it shows in your work.

3. Be Patient: It is true, there is no short cut to success. I come from a long line of face paced startups which are under constant pressure for innovation. This comes at high risk of compromising quality, customers and personal brand. Rushing is not a recipe for success at all. This is true in my experience as an artist that it is important to be patient with your process, your technique even if that means refining it over days or weeks.

4. Build your community: Customer service is all about relationships. I often tell my friends and husband that contrary to popular belief this soft skill cannot be acquired. However, you can hone it. While I was doing my other jobs I used to get this rush out of interacting with a new customer who I onboarded or a partner whose business problem I helped resolve or reading testimonial from a customer who had a positive experience with me. The hardest part is to be consistent in that service , that experience you provide to customers. Similarly, my artists network and my client community expect consistency from me, in my artistic expression, my approach to understanding their needs and my service.

5. Strive for continuous improvement: As a leader you wear many hats in the corporate world. You are a coach, hustler, therapist, crisis manager etc. But the most important nature of a true leader is to be a constant learner. You learn from your mistakes, from your peers and your employees. As an artist you are constantly reading, improving your skills from other artists or correcting the mistakes from the past.

Quoting Pablo Picasso again, "Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist".

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