August 2017: The Art of Business

Robert Saywitz, Piano Roll (detail), From the series Suspended Beliefs, 2013, Ink, collage and manual typewriter on paper 30 x 8.5 inches

“Business art is the step that comes after art. I started as a commercial artist, and I want to finish as a business artist. Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. During the hippie era, people put down the idea of business. They’d say ‘money is bad’ and ‘working is bad.’

But making money is art, and working is art – and good business is the best art.”

― Andy Warhol

October, 2000. I move to New York City to become an actor. Stereotypical experiences ensue, from questionable auditions to paying too much for the “opportunity” to meet agents to waiting tables for tips only. My friends and I embrace the struggling artist lifestyle. We do shitty downtown theater and get underpaid for day jobs and paid even less for theater jobs and depend on the kindness of strangers (usually, pre-financial meltdown finance dudes) to buy us drinks on weekends.

Thanksgiving, 2003. What started as an innocent hipster Thanksgiving among friends ended in a stalemate debate about selling out. Ironically, in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn (because in 2003, all things were ironic in Williamsburg, Brooklyn), a group of emerging artists and businesspeople (and artists who would leave their art to become businesspeople), passionately (is there any other kind of debate when you’re 24?) argued that a band that makes money is a sell out, or that it isn’t, or that it could be, depending on the band.

September, 2005. I decide I did not go to college to bartend, among many other reasons I no longer need the performing arts to be my primary pursuit. I volunteer/freelance in politics, marketing, and data entry, before ending up back in the arts.

2006-2009. I work for organizations that help artists navigate their industries and create business plans. The structure gives them opportunities and exposure without artistic compromise.

2009. I start a business consulting small businesses on how to attract and serve the creative class.

2010. I am priced out of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I am totally okay with that.

Fall, 2012. I publish my first book, “Exit Stage Right: The Career Change Handbook for Performers.” It is a personal farewell letter and professional bread crumbs to those who may want to follow.

May, 2014. I am ready to keep more of my hard-earned money. I move to Portland, OR. I find it relatively affordable.

August, 2016. I open the Pregame Clubhouse, a business that gives entrepreneurs and creative professionals access to high-level business guidance, striving to make it affordable, flexible, valuable, and sustainable. Creating and discovering and editing its model is my art. When I am teaching or consulting or training, I feel in flow. But it’s better than being on stage, because I feel a deeper and more relational sense of purpose, divine alignment, and creative fulfillment.

July, 2017. I get into an social media debate with strangers about whether the creative class is being priced out of Portland. The subtext is that I am out of touch or that I don’t know what I’m talking about.

August 1, 2017. The Pregame Clubhouse turns one. Long live Pregame.

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