What Can Art Learn from Business? The Own It Summit from an Artist’s Perspective

By Kristen Mabie


 I hate how my voice sounds when I speak into a microphone. However, the Own It Summit Boston College held on March 29 was far too inspirational and thought-provoking for me not to stand up and ask questions during the Q&A’s. Own It is a conference focused on women’s leadership, developed last year at Georgetown University. Artists others than writers were virtually non-existent at the event, but that did not deter me at all. The writers who spoke, along with all the other women representing fields such as media, politics, business, and STEM, conveyed that they were motivational and successful women without even mentioning their career. However, the career stories they told and the advice they provided, no matter what their profession, was universal. The summit was co-hosted by UGBC and the Women In Business club. Even though there were patent leather heels everywhere I looked, I truly believe that the Own It Summit was a beneficial day for everyone who attended regardless of career interest, age, or even gender.

I attended the business panel and one of the speakers, a sales manager at Google and a BC alum, provided the following career advice to women: sit up straight, claim your space. Her advice to be confident and have a high self-worth despite your gender, or any other circumstance, is just one example of the transcendent inspiration from the summit’s speakers. The keynote speakers — Carrie Rich, CEO of the Global Good Fund, and Kate White, novelist and former Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan magazine — were utterly brilliant. At the very beginning of the day, all summit attendees were asked to answer the question posed by writer and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg: What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Both White and Rich told us to take those risks and there is no better time to make your ideas reality than today. This resonated with me as an art student. It is easy to feel like my art is not good enough to show other people, that I do not have enough experience to try my hand at design, and that my art is personal, so by not succeeding artistically I am not succeeding personally. Throughout the day, the importance of confidence was an undercurrent in every speaker’s story and inspired me to be a better artist.

Kate White, a successful writer and creative mind, uses the motto “go big or go home” in her career. Though White’s speech spoke to both my business and artistic aspirations, the idea of “go big or go home” has especially impacted my artistic practice in the past couple weeks and I’m sure that impact will continue. As an artist of any type you need to be bold and trust your instinct – you cannot do anything half way. White also advised us to stop worrying about what other people think. Though this is common advice, from an artistic perspective I was reminded of the quote by Andy Warhol, “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” White was a visiting speaker for the summit, but in a way she was a visiting artist as well, and I wholly support her philosophy of not asking permission to go above and beyond and try something new. Rather than always waiting for others’ evaluation, keep pushing your own boundaries and you will wind up with something great. The summit may not have been meant to serve as artistic inspiration but it sure turned out that way!

Inspiring women (and the handful of men who attended) to “own it” in their careers was the goal of the summit and it by no means fits the traditional confines of an event that represents BC Arts on campus. However, the Own It summit shows that sources of inspiration and learning opportunities for our art community extend further than we often realize. The interdisciplinary learning emphasized at Boston College encourages us to connect areas of thought we might not consider and this type of environment is perfecting for aspiring artists!


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