Mark Mayerson

Writer, Cartoonist, Sculptor

Art vs. Business

“The producer struggles for power; the artist, for power and fulfillment. The artist must lose.”

-David Mamet

The above quote comes from “Bambi v. Godzilla: Why Art Loses in Hollywood,” an essay by Mamet in the June 2005 issue of Harper’s. It’s worth reading for a lot of reasons, but the above quote crystallized something I’ve been aware of for years.

Business people care only about money, where creative people have a split loyalty. Yes, they have to care about money. But having crafted a creation, they have an emotional investment in that creation that doesn’t allow them to be purely mercenary.

Smart business people know this and use it to manipulate creative people. Dumb business people don’t know this, and end up alienating creative people. As there is always a fresh supply of creative people, the dumb business people are not necessarily any worse off than the smart ones.

Creative people see their work as a finished product. It’s a statement about how something should be. Business people see creative work as raw material. It’s a resource to be sold to the highest bidder and has no integrity beyond its potential earning power.

If you design and build a house, you’ve expended great effort to create a house that’s as attractive and functional as you’re capable of making. If you’re a real estate developer, you think nothing of knocking down a wall, putting on an addition or changing the front porch if it will result in a sale. No house is ugly if there’s a buyer.

These points of view are irreconcilable and they are the cause of much pain and suffering if you happen to be creative.