Miguel Mayher, Artrepreneur
July has brought amazing news to TIAC's community and one of them is we have offered 10 scholarships for a project we support strongly: The Art MBA.
The Art MBA is an interactive video-based training program that teaches A to Z entrepreneurial strategies to emerging artists who want to master their creative productivity, multiply their opportunities, level up their visibility and feel supported.
The greatest thing behind this project is his creator, Miguel Mayher, a young man who has managed to combine two worlds that are mystified as enemies, Art and Entrepreneurship.
After almost a year in production, from interviewing dozens of artists to understand their challenges, to months designing the curriculum, to world-class recordings that would capture the emotional aspect - Miguel has built a world-class program that teaches creatives how to master the entrepreneurial mindset so that they can create their own opportunities.
Let's discover him!
Who is Miguel Mayher?
I can describe his thinking and behavior, but I don’t think anyone can truly answer who they are using words. Perhaps a good metaphor is saying that he is a student of Life.
His mind yearns for wisdom - always journaling on ways to live better, on frameworks to simplify his human experience, constantly reading in the hope to understand how the world works. Meditation reminds him it is impossible to “figure out” Life - it must be experienced.
His heart yearns for meaning - through beauty in Art and Nature (yes beauty!), experiencing the harmony of the sacred, or moments of deep empathy through others’ suffering.
His hands seem to want to make something great and lasting, obsessed with the optimal use of his limited time. Sometimes it feels like an insecurity of the ego, others like a genuine intention to contribute to the human condition.
And through it all there is confusion, failure, goofiness, and a messy stumbling through the world!
How, when and why did your love for art begin?
I was told it started with drawing in the walls as a child. Literally coloring them with crayons. Even when I got caught and was being scolded, with my hands behind my back, I was continuing to mark the wall with my crayons. What can I say, it was a white canvas!
When I was 8 years old “the three kings” brought me an oil painting color set and easel. Soon after I was signed up to weekend art classes with a fine arts teacher who taught me the fundamentals of the technique. I was very fortunate. A foundation of skill enabled me to taste periods of “flow” where time disappeared. I was hooked.
It wasn’t until more than a decade later though that I had a profound experience watching other artists art… in the Musee d’Orsay. I was captivated by the impressionists and particularly Sorolla’s work full of life. I went speechless and realized there was a world beyond words - and painting could express it.
..and what about computer engineering? What came first and how do you feel this two sides of Miguel connect?
Technology came to me later, through video games. My older brother was the custodian of the home’s computer so when I was finally allowed to tinker with it I became fascinated. As a teenager I dabbled in programming video games, creating 3D infographics and hacking into other computers. It was unknown territory for everyone I knew so there was a rebellious quality to it.
I have been obsessed with Time since I was a kid, and technology turned my fascination to the future. I wanted to connect visual arts with computers through 3D animation. I underwent training with people twice my age. I thought I would go work for Pixar. But I ended up signing up for Computer Engineering because it seemed more difficult - and probably what society was hinting I should choose. I managed to finish 1 year earlier than my peers so decided to spend that year exploring Fine Arts in London.
The left and right side of my brain Ever since then it has been a back and forth between visual arts and technology.
Where did you study?
I’m probably overeducated. Degrees can be a great way to postpone deciding what you want to do with your life.
I studied Computer Engineering in Madrid (Autonoma) and Paris (Dauphine). A Fine Arts post graduate in Central Saint Martins at Byam Shaw. A Master in Business Administration at INSEAD, in Singapore and Fontainebleau.
I can only remember a couple of exceptional teachers. I learned more from a few brilliant classmates and reading hundreds of books I was personally attracted to: philosophy, psychology, spirituality, clear thinking and human potential.
Without realizing it I became what they now call an “interdisciplinary thinker” and that curiosity has never left me.
Why oil painting? What makes this particular medium special to you?
Because I move forward by stumbling.
Mistakes become part of the essence. I love the physical experience of oil painting. Also, I think it is a medium that will continue to endure.
Oil painting is a technology invented in the 15th century that has survived until today.
The Lindy effect would say that it has a long time to go. But it is a tool, a medium of expression.
I hope to be able to explore other mediums in my journey if intuition whispers me so.
Do you still paint?
Yes! But if you ask me at a different point in the year the answer will differ.
I also love handwriting stream of mind aphorisms in my journal.
I also love facilitating workshops where you never know who is going to say what next.
So while I used to be stuck with a dilemma of identity (am I an artist? an entrepreneur? a philosopher?) now I just focus on “being” and however that creativity manifests I make peace with it.
I also used to beat myself up short term but now I understand thinking long term and there are cycles. For example, I recently moved to Japan, and before that, I was on a project in Madrid bringing artists and entrepreneurs together. Such unique circumstances make proper painting impractical. However soon the dust settles and I can pick up the brush again.
More and more I see the core is creativity. Creating something from nothing. That is what I find myself compelled to do. This creativity sometimes manifests as brushstrokes on a canvas, sometimes as words in an article or talk, sometimes as experiences, I create for others such as retreats in medieval castles.
People want to put you in a box. Perhaps I don’t need to ascribe to any one identity tag, they are useful for others to understand me, but not for me to understand the world. I aspire to live moment to moment through not-knowing, that to me is where all great Art comes from.
How do you combine your studio life with all the "brain time"?
You need to study yourself: what rythm brings out the best in you?
My mind is best in the morning, when I do my writing, after a long meditation (I practice Vipassana). I have all sorts of rituals to put me in the right state of mind, from fasting, to what I drink, to where I work. After 3h of mental work, I can’t come up with fresh thoughts anymore.
Afternoons my energy is a lot more “earthy”, more emotional. I usually listen to electronic music without words to get me into a primal state. I find it effective to get me in a state of emotional expression, such as drawing or painting.
This would describe a daily cycle, but there is a weekly, quarterly and yearly cycle. I strive to combine a surfing of the rythm that life throws at me (eg. travel, special projects) with a baseline of ideal daily/weekly/quarterly schedule. There is a plan and a reality. Sometimes they are the same, sometimes they aren’t. As they say, have a plan, but be ready to burn it.
Why did you feel the need to create The Art MBA?
It wasn’t my idea: it came from a call for help. I was at an Antonio Lopez Garcia week-long artist workshop with Lynn Guo, founder of TIAC. We spent dinner geeking out on time management, energy management, all sorts of productivity hacks for our juggling of creativity and getting things done.
That led to being invited to run a workshop in Florence, which seemed to be very helpful as I was then asked to create the full program that has now become The Art MBA. I didn’t know at the time it would be so much work to create though!
From research by interviewing dozens of artists, to 3 months writing the curriculum, 2 weeks of studio recording, months of post-production… it’s been a wonderful journey and I really hope it can benefit many artists to get the entrepreneurial foundation that would help them get more results with less frustration.
Most of business is simple - there is so much unnecessary fluff out there. I hope this program can demystify the fluff and give artists the few tools they need to navigate their artistic entrepreneurial journey. I’m very grateful to TIAC for their sponsoring of this meaningful project.
According to you, what is the power of Art?
For me art is freedom. Art can instantly transport you to the eternal. It is not “useful”, it is not a tool for a purpose. I would even say it is “useless” - otherwise it is design. Pure art is an end in itself. It is pure expression. That brings it to a sacred realm in our utilitarian society.
What message would you give to the future generations?
Most entrepreneurial projects fail commercially. You can expect the same about your art. This is a hard truth pill to swallow, but truth is good for you. Your focus should be first on finding a way to sustain yourself that allows you enough time to make studio artwork.
Then when the time is right, when you have found your voice, you can focus on visibility.
But the priority should be clear. If you are not happy being an artist knowing from the start that you may not be commercially successful and be at peace with that, then you are setting yourself up for a painful drama. It is easy to get your identity wrapped around that drama.
If you are at peace with not getting all the worldly success you desire, so long as you are able to continue making your art, but are nevertheless happy to “play the game” - to put bets that allow lady luck to help you - then that will be a much more enjoyable journey.
If you read artist biographies and speak with artists who are where you want to get in terms of worldly success, you will see that like entrepreneurship, it is an extremely unpredictable path.
You place bets and get back to work in the studio. If you are consistent and keep adapting your approach with what you learn, then over time some of those bets will bear fruit.
Any particular message you'd like to leave to TIAC?
From day one I’ve been touched by the beautiful combination of dedicated work and humaneness that TIAC’s leadership has cultivated. Having interacted with many founders in the tech entrepreneurship world, it delights me to see how growth doesn’t have to be crazy, how humane step by step organic growth can make the path more enjoyable for all.