Increasingly, innovative thinkers are using skills learnt studying a postgraduate degree in art and design to unlock their creativity in businesses of all kinds.
While studying a Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a highly effective approach for anyone with business leadership in their sights, there are alternative routes to that same destination.
As businesses become more agile, creative workers are being prized for their ability to “think outside the box, offer a fresh perspective, and for often relying more on expert intuition rather than purely on rationality”, says Gerda Gemser, an RMIT Professor of Design based in the College of Business.
No one exemplifies this creative shift more than Daryl Goh, an award-winning artist, curator and educator from Singapore who supercharged his natural entrepreneurial spirit by studying a Master of Fine Art (MFA) at RMIT.
Goh’s work explores the limits of perception and the collision of media across sculpture, installation art, light projection, sound design and photography.
Among the lessons Goh learnt while studying his degree is one that could revolutionise business in the future: that creative thinking is incredibly valued outside of artistic fields.
Business celebrates creativity
Since graduating, Goh has pursued business-minded innovations outside the studio, like the projection-mapped retail space, Installation Lucid, and Singapore’s first and only free artist residency program, NPE Art Residency.
On these projects he collaborated with Epson Southeast Asia, the Singapore Tourism Board, NPE Print Communications and more.
Goh says that studying an MFA helped him hone his natural abilities in adaptive and useful ways for the corporate world.
“The skills you learn in creative fields are easily translatable, such as being able to take criticism, use failure as a learning opportunity, take calculated risks, and balance instinct with reason,” he says.
Gemser also says businesses value the artist’s instinct to put “human needs and desires centre stage”.
“People with creative backgrounds may be less afraid to be guided by intuition and emotion, and thus can make decisions even when there are no 'hard facts' that back up these decisions,” she says.
Dare to be different
The typical MFA graduate, Goh says, is comfortable trying new things and rejects old and out-dated ways of thinking that offer no business benefit.
“An art student is someone who values moving out of their comfort zone, and using that displacement as a catalyst for creativity,” he says.
“Being an artist instilled an ideology in me to only do things that are new, never seen before, and not like any other.”
Goh adds that RMIT’s collaborative and supportive learning environment provided the perfect platform for experimentation.
“Students can embrace the steep, experimental learning culture while networking with incredibly talented artists and practitioners,” he says.
Gemser also says the “divergent thinking” art students possess is crucial to sparking radical innovation in businesses.
“It’s about solving the right problem in an effective and innovative way, and creative thinkers are able to bring together apparently disparate material in a useful but unaccustomed way,” she says.
Immerse yourself in creativity
For his own art practice, Goh found that being situated in the heart of Melbourne allowed him to use the city as his canvas, and interact with its entrepreneurial culture.
“The appropriation of art in non-art contexts fuels me to create, incorporating art into retail experiences, corporate strategies, event marketing and interior design,” he says.
“I had the opportunity to use my time at RMIT as a test bed for industry-level projects that I would never have been able to do otherwise,” he says.
“The most surprising aspect of my experience was the amount of opportunity and funding RMIT Link Arts and Culture provided to students initiating their own projects.”
Story: Jennifer Park