Artists in the Office: How to Support Creative Employees

They get a bad reputation.  Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase “starving artist.”  A caricature of a lazy, self-indulgent, eccentric individual who doesn’t want to work appears.  You may think this person doesn’t want a job other than when it suits him, exactly how it suits him.  Or, you’re afraid that artists are determined to rile up the workplace. You experience with artists may have led you to believe that all artists are avant-garde abstractionists, out to befuddle.  Artists don’t want to be understood, so you don’t see the need to try and understand them.  You’re an entrepreneur, with serious business to do. We hear you. And we’re here to tell you that, if you’re serious about your business, you need artists.  Now more than ever. Read on.

artists are important for your business

Artists in the Office: How to Support Creative Employees

Robots at Work.

We are currently in an economy that is leaning increasingly toward the use of AI, or Artificial Intelligence.  Essentially, we are building better, faster, smarter robots that are slowly quickly taking over tasks that humans used to do.  This has been a major cause of concern for those entering the workforce as employees, and for future employers alike.  Employees worry about having a job available to them, and employers worry about keeping up with technology in order to compete. The individual asks, “With robots, am I needed?”  As a society, we may ask, “With robots, will we need each other?”

artists vs. robots

Artists can’t be replaced.

The answer is, enthusiastically: Yes. There is a certain something that humans provide that cannot be developed or even touched by algorithms and programming. Artificial Intelligence has come a long way and is breathtaking in its intelligence and speed.  AI gets a lot of things right, but it gets human-ing wrong.  AI can’t replace artists because it can’t replace the creativity and innovation of the human mind nor the pure physical prowess of the human body.  As we step forward into a future with AI, it is all the more crucial that businesses maintain the human touch by hiring creative individuals.  And it is all the more important that future employees focus on developing skills and abilities that can’t be uploaded.

artists are here to stay
5 Ways that Employers Can Support Employee Artists

So, you need artists.  And artists need you, business owners.  Artistic creativity and entrepreneurial innovation go hand in hand, after all.  If you’re going to make it work, though, you’ll need to take some important steps.  Here are a few.

Regularly go to artists for all things creative.

So, you have an artist on your staff.  When you want an idea for a sign or an eye-catching mural, you hit her up.  But are you taking advantage of everything she may have to offer? Artists of all types are creative thinkers.  They’re likely to think outside the box, regardless of the situation.  Have a particular problem with no solution in sight? Consider consulting the artist on your team.  Chances are they may be able to provide a fresh perspective.

Allow artists to influence your business.

This can be scary, but if you open up your business to artists, you need to open up your business to artists. Maybe it starts with the dress code.  Get a little looser about self-expression.  Allow artists on your staff to make suggestions for office decorations, or even branding.  Even if you hired them to scoop ice cream, you could be missing out on a goldmine of ideas if you don’t encourage their input for wider arenas.  Today’s ice cream scooper may become tomorrow’s secret weapon for business growth if you only seek them out. Listen to the artist’s ideas and visions to renew or inspire your own vision.


Recognize and support their off-the-clock work.

Okay, so let’s get real here.  It’s likely that the position you’ve provided is not your staff member’s dream job.  Perhaps their heart’s desire is to illustrate children’s books, but they’re working for you as an assistant.  Our previous tips have encouraged you to tap into the artist’s potential for your business. Now we’re asking you to give as well as you get.  Starving artist? The surest way to starve an artist is to separate them from their art. If you want to make sure that the artist on your staff is able to serve your business, provide the time and encouragement it takes for them to fill their cup.  

Consider unique concerns, but avoid stereotyping.

There’s a reason that a certain rift has developed between artists and the business world. The differences between “traditional” work life and the artist’s way can cause problems.  Entrepreneurs are haunted by the misconception that they are driven heart-attacks-waiting-to-happen who work their staff within an inch of their lives. At the same time, artists are portrayed as wimpy, overly-sensitive anarchists who can’t hold down a job.  The reality is that business owners really just want invested, energetic employees who are excited about the business. Likewise, what’s real is that artists are very dedicated, hard-working people. Some may prefer a greater variety in their work schedule, and employ different methods of learning and participating with others. Try to be open to how, when and where an artist can contribute to your business.  



Allow artists to teach and inspire your entire staff.

Recently, we posted about keeping your employees healthy. Guess what? Artists can contribute there, as well. Dance artists can contribute to your team by leading a dance class as part of a team effort toward more exercise.  Visual artists can teach your staff how to funnel their emotions into painting or drawing, creating a space for greater mental health in your office. When you allow room for artists, you invite so much more than art.  You invite well-being and vibrancy. Instead of limiting or reigning in the artist on your team, find more ways for them to interact with, motivate and impact your staff.

Bonus: Take it to the community.

Consider supporting art local to your business.  Is there a symphony or choral group in your area you could sponsor?  Have you put an advertisement in a playbill for the local theater? What about purchasing your employees’ artwork?  Ever attended local cultural events as a staff? There are many ways within and around your business that you can support not just individual artists, but art as a whole.

Extra bonus: Pay artists.

As we mentioned earlier, there’s a chance that your employee is not currently working their dream job.  Don’t take it personally. Instead, consider yourself an important contributor to the shaping and forming of the world’s next great painter, or musician, or novelist or dancer.  Believe in your employee’s future, and pay them for the work they’re doing for you now. That’s actually one of the most basic, and best, ways that you can support any artist who just so happens to be your employee.  And that’s where PayWow steps in. Offering payroll, time management, and tax compliance services, we make it easy for you to pay artists, or any other employee or contractor. Give us a try today!


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