Amy Whitaker works at the intersection of art, business, and everyday life.  She holds an M.B.A. from Yale and an M.F.A. in painting from the Slade School of Fine Art. She loves teaching business to artists, which she does currently as a member of the Art Business faculty at the Sotheby’s Institute and as an adjunct professor of economics in the Design M.B.A. program at California College of the Arts. She has also taught at RISD, Williams College, Trade School, and the Artist Summer Institute. Her first book, Museum Legs (Hol Art Books, 2009) was the assigned freshman reading at RISD in 2010, where she gave the orientation keynote. She is at work on new projects about creativity in everyday life and economics for everyone.

Image credit: courtesy of the artist


From the Art21 blog: “Monday Painter / Sunday Banker” (May 10, 2011)


Joseph Beuys famously said that everyone is an artist.  Even though the statement is funny coming from someone whose artistic practice was as democratically available as the decision to lock yourself in a room with a coyote, I think he is right.  Everyone is an artist, but everyone is a businessperson too.  Creativity is a basic human birthright, but we also live in one of the greatest market economies of all time.

When I was actually getting an MFA, it never felt like a newer, shinier version of an MBA. . . . At the beginning of art school, I occasionally felt like a social pariah who was viewed as a rapacious capitalist.  I owned a gray interview suit that was not a costume, though perhaps even more controversially, I made traditional oil paintings. . . .

The real thing I learned in art school was not how to paint, per se, but how to lean into the messy, uncertain, trial-and-error process of making work—buoyed by a belief in some aim larger than myself but otherwise solidly in the weeds most of the time.

If anyone could learn to deal with the fundamental, almost existential uncertainty, of trying to make art then maybe those same temperamental skills could apply outside of making a drawing or a video installation. . . . If the world itself could be the canvas . . . then that artistic resourcefulness and temperament was probably exactly what is required to stare down, make budge, and wholly lift intractable social problems.

My real pie-in-the-sky aim is . . . maybe one day for creative people to make a contribution to the field of economics itself.