Why Does Art Matter in a Business World?

by Caroline Cohoon | August 5, 2007

Art is not decoration. Art should be used to attain your business goals. No matter what the industry, every job today requires exceptional creativity and imagination to get ahead, which is just one way art can work for you.

In business, one can spend countless hours researching the market, developing a product and hiring the right employees. Less time however, goes into planning the decor and appearance of the office. This may be because it might not seem a significant part in making a successful business. That is not the case. Design and decor play a very important and beneficial role in a business.

By improving the surroundings, art can stimulate production, whether it is through customers, employees, or vendors. The design of an office and the wall decor on display conveys the ideas, values and vision of the company. Customers want to see the aesthetic of the business match their vision of what product they are purchasing or service they expect. Even without a retail location that customers visit, a pleasant, well designed working space proves beneficial to the employees and vendors or visitors that do come and interact with the environment.

Art can provide cultural benefits to employees, and shows a commitment to their enrichment. It can also promote goodwill and a good public image to show an involvement in the community. A non-profit organization, Business Committee of the Arts surveyed over 800 employees at 32 companies in the United States that have workplace art collections. These companies ranged from food distributors to law firms. The survey showed that art in the workplace helps address some key business challenges. A large majority of employees agreed in all cases that art was beneficial:

78% of employees agree it (art) reduces stress; 64% agree it increases creativity and productivity; 67% agree it enhances morale; 65% say it helps to build customer relations; 73% say it helps to build community relations.

In Nation's Business, the Vice President of retail services at the National Retail Federation said that "any noticeable improvement in a business's appearance… can result in a 10 to 20 percent increase in sales the first year… Customers notice when a store looks more updated, fresher, and more exciting." They recommend that businesses update at least every seven years.

Even as a small business, it is important to give the impression of a substantial business. Not just for vendors, suppliers or customers, but for the owner and employees It's okay to be small, just not to think small. Usually, bigger is better. "If you're timid about your art, it portrays that you don't have confidence or that you think small for your business," said interior designer Sandy Lucas of The Bryan Design Associates, in Houston, Texas. This applies to being a non-profit too. The workforce may be small but the goals are big. Finding artwork that shows the message of the organization and being proud to display it large makes a real statement.

To gain a competitive edge, real estate developers across the country are increasingly incorporating the arts in their residential and commercial projects. These alliances are not only attractive to buyers and renters, they are also helping the arts develop new audiences and providing artists with reasonably-priced spaces to live, work and sell their art. "For a developer, investing in the arts is an investment in the community, and that's good business," said John Matthews, President and CEO, Matthews Southwest, Dallas, Texas. Art can be used to spruce up a model home, or can be featured in neighborhood "Home Tours" to show support for the artists as well as make the homes more inviting.

Whether to create an uplifting atmosphere, a community outreach, or a metaphoric statement, art does matter in a business. There are many benefits to incorporating art in the workplace; the only negative might be in the cost. However, with the technology available and the plethora of talented artists, there is always an option to fit quality art into any budget.

Apply the principles discussed here to your environment at home. Whether you work from home or not, your living space affects your attitude in all aspects of life. Creating a calm and inviting, yet at the same time creative and stimulating atmosphere in your home can help improve your mindset and allow you to function better. Also updating your home every now and then to keep things fresh would be a great improvement.

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