A business diary: Mercator Launch from an artist’s point of view

You’ve probably heard that creative minds often get distracted because they’re always busy catching up with a new idea. Let me illustrate this with a cute metaphor: creative minds are like balloons, they’re created to fly but if no one pulls the strings, they can disappear completely. It means that creative thoughts risk remaining only as a mind-based idea.

As an artist, I always suffered from being “too creative” in the sense that when it comes to realizing my ideas, I was often lost. Which idea should I choose to elaborate? Which of my ideas should I work on? Blah blah blah… never-ending internal conversations…

One of the benefits that Mercator Launch provided is being “grounded”. We’re talking about business and the market, in other words, the material world. An opposite world compared to mine as an artist. But thinking in terms of business and the market pushes you to re-interrogate and re-encapsulate all of your ideas, but also your artistic practice and your social response-ability as an artist. Are all of my creative ideas important? Which idea is more practical and doable? Which one(s) will satisfy a need or solve a problem? Flirting with these questions is already a tool of grounding because (especially as an artist), finally, you’re getting out of your mind. 

Sadly, most art schools don’t inform students about the real and business world during the education period. The problem is when you graduated from an art school, you’re a little bit… lost or you feel ignorant about the market. As art students, we often think that in the future, we must be or do something related to the department we graduated from. If I studied acting, I “have to be” an actor; if I studied dance, I should be a dancer, right? I sincerely believe that these kinds of mental limitations limit one’s potential. Whatever might be the department that you graduated from, with your power (which is your artistic practice), you can make a lot of new things, create, produce, sell, and reach out to people you don’t know yet. So, I guess the other benefit of Mercator Launch has been to point out what it means to be an entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur doesn’t only mean being “a businessman”. No! It’s a leadership that involves courage. It’s an innovation process that you truly believe in that you can make a new and alternative contribution to the world. 

Since I follow the Discovery Track at Mercator Launch, I started to think that my artistic practices can reach much more people via the entrepreneurship side. It means that entrepreneurship where art and business are tightly interconnected can be a tool for expanding my artistic and aesthetic knowledge in many different directions. Mercator Launch provided a “bridge” to me between my artistic practice and the real business world. Because as you can imagine, as an artist, we sometimes feel lost since things don’t work out as we wish in our carrier (applications, residences, festivals, …).

A third revelation: the Discovery Track at Mercator Launch showed me that there isn’t much difference between artistic research and entrepreneurship. As in the artistic research process, you also come up with an innovative idea as in entrepreneurship. And an idea is always something alive, capable of shifting its shape. Our first creative and innovative idea(s) become(s) embodied throughout the sessions and the guidance we had at Mercator Launch. It finds not only its tangible and final shape but also its targeted audience. The creative idea – as an abstract entity – becomes framed and concretized. Again, the innovative idea finds a ground to bloom and to serve other people. It becomes grounded and ready to provide a service, either to solve a problem or to meet a societal need. 

To conclude, a final argument. Being an entrepreneur requires excitement, but it also involves fear, which is very human and normal. Rob, Ton, Florine, and Radboud University support and guide you throughout this journey. Then, you feel cared enough to make steps forward to touch your final aim despite whatever your troubles are.

Written by Can Bora (IG | canbora.berika).