Community//

UNEXPECTED WISDOM, OR WHY ART CRITICISM BOOKS SHOULD BE ON EVERY MARKETER’S BOOKSHELF

It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that 99% of all business books are rehashed wisdom, dressed with mostly boring personal anecdotes and case studies that make you want to claw your eyes out. OMG! Doing consumer research BEFORE launching a product? Holy shit. I’m a genius. This book will be one for the ages.  There’s […]

It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that 99% of all business books are rehashed wisdom, dressed with mostly boring personal anecdotes and case studies that make you want to claw your eyes out.

OMG! Doing consumer research BEFORE launching a product? Holy shit. I’m a genius. This book will be one for the ages. 

There’s only so many ways that you can redo the makeup on basic business theory and, until a new social network or technology really takes hold, the vast majority of technical performance has been covered. There’s truly nothing new under the sun.

“Does this mean that there is no inherent value in business writing?” I ask nervously, updating my business blog. Of course, there is. You will always have new audiences that need this classic information in ways that speak to them.

But you, the seasoned businessperson, you… do you really need another marketing book that gives you the same information?

In 2016, I started the Bowie Book Club, dedicated to reading the 100 books that David Bowie felt were the most influential. This list has been a massive intellectual undertaking, with books ranging from neuroscience to frothy fiction classics.

The classic READ posters that hang up in every American high school with whatever celebrity is cool at the time. 

The ones that I’ve discovered I like the best are the art and literary criticism books. Sexual Personae, by Camille Paglia, was life-changing as it guided me through sexual and gender mores that are largely ignored and denied by a very heterosexual male historical view. I learned about the history and practices of using particular shapes and colors in art from Beyond the Brillo Box by Arthur Danto.

As I was reading, I realized that ads featuring those shapes and colors tended to do better than others. I also realized that photos with more classical composition got more likes. (I do realize this is a no shit sherlock paragraph to those with graphic design training.)

For those of us without the benefit of graphic design education, this is important information that greatly improves our work and is generally not found in the average marketing book. Why? Because it’s business and art is not business. Business needs numbers and proven logical strategies that anyone can follow and always work until they don’t.

Or does it?

I am a graphic designer. You can tell because I have a beard and glasses. Also, I’m sitting on the floor in a quirky, artistic fashion. I like Helvetica. 

When everyone is doing the same thing, you stand out by doing something different. There are 50 million variations of that statement, floating around the universe on motivational coffee mugs, and for good reason. It’s true.

Data is the current king of marketing, presenting in all manner of spreadsheets and reports. It causes products and careers to rise and fall and determines what color clothing you’ll be wearing next year.

What happens when you take the data and combine that with the lessons learned from millennia of art? Something beautiful.

So, next time you are perusing Amazon while waiting in line for a smoothie, do a search for art criticism. Your clients will thank you.

    The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Community//

    Why You Should Read 7 Books at a Time

    by Craig Ballantyne
    Community//

    How to Read Smarter, Retain More Information, and Learn Faster

    by Ayodeji Awosika
    Community//

    Author Monica Main: “Write what you like to read and write the book you wish you could find (but doesn’t exist)”

    by Yitzi Weiner

    Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

    Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

    Thrive Global
    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

    - MARCUS AURELIUS

    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.