How To Turn Your Art into a Renaissance Business (Case Study)
Photo courtesy of Serge De Gracia.

How To Turn Your Art into a Renaissance Business (Case Study)

Written by Emilie

Topics: Art, Renaissance Business

A lot of multipotentialites are artists. It’s actually pretty rare to meet one that isn’t versed in at least one artistic medium. Some multipods view their art as a hobby, while others seek to elevate it to an income stream or even to their primary source of work.

If you are going to make money with your art, then how do your other passions fit into the mix? You don’t want to be just another session musician or freelance illustrator, you want to be the musician who gives speeches and travels or the holistic illustrator who teaches entrepreneurship classes and creates creativity zines for their community.

Over the next two weeks, we’re going to meet some inspiring multipotentialites who have based much of their work around their art, and yet have found ways of integrating their other passions into the mix.

Meet Mark Powers

Markmark isn’t your typical drummer. Instead of deriving his income from some combination of performing and teaching, as many professional musicians do. Mark injected this approach with a few of his other passions, namely technology, anthropology, philanthropy, lifestyle design, and travel. What resulted is a business that can be run from anywhere, and that provides Mark with numerous outlets for his creativity.

Mark teaches percussion, not only in person, but online, using video conferencing applications like Skype. This means that the reach of his business extends beyond his physical location and he is able to get students from all over the world. It also means that he can teach someone who lives in the US, while roaming the globe. This is exactly what Mark did in 2011, when he flew to Uganda to record youth choirs and local village musicians. The resulting album, Amaloboozi (which means “voices” in the Luganda language) can be purchased through his website, and all proceeds go to directly benefit organizations doing humanitarian work in those regions.

In addition to his teaching and philanthropic work, Mark also creates digital guides with names like Grooves on the Go and Djammin’. These guides are meant for percussionists as well as teachers, and can be bought and downloaded directly from his site. Mark runs percussion workshops at schools, community centers and in corporate settings, and of course he still performs live with various musicians.

While a non-multipotentialite might find this lifestyle to be overwhelming, Mark loves it. His work allows him to lead a rich, multifaceted life, and with all of the different projects and formats that he morphs between, he rarely gets bored.

How Mark Does It

To the untrained eye, Mark’s business might seem narrow, focused squarely on percussion. However, percussion is actually the lens that allows him to explore many of his other passions and curiosities.

When Mark speaks at a TEDx event, he is using percussion to help the audience feel connected. When running workshops at schools across the country, Mark is helping teenagers boost their self-esteem. When drumming alongside African musicians, Mark is bridging the gaps between cultures and languages.

Percussion is Mark’s way of seeing and interacting with the world. It may not seem like an overarching theme in the classic sense, but it is just that- the thing that brings his many passions together.

Your Turn

Do you have an artistic medium that you could use as a lens to explore your many interests?

If you haven’t already, be sure to download The Overarching Theme Kit. It’s free and it includes a number of examples and exercises to help you craft that umbrella theme that will allow you to integrate your many passions into your work.

em_bioEmilie Wapnick is the Founder and Creative Director at Puttylike, where she helps multipotentialites integrate ALL of their interests into their lives. Unable to settle on one path herself, Emilie studied music, art, film production and law, graduating from the Law Faculty at McGill University. She is an occasional rock star, a paleo-friendly eater and a wannabe scientist carpenter. Learn more about Emilie here.


  1. Em says:

    This is a great post! I’d love to hear more stories like this, it really gives one a clear vision on what is possible, and more inspiration than any theoretical guides.

    Mark’s way of doing this RB is awesome, I love it :) I have few lenses through wich I interact, like topics of meditation, minimalism/simplifying life… as for more artistic ones, I don’t consider myself good enough to pull that of. I do love photography, music, poetry, but none of this feels strong enough to be a good lense. It’s all seldom, a poem there, a picture here… I’d need to find something stronger :)

    • Emilie says:

      Isn’t Mark inspiring? I think the “through the lens” approach really works best for multipods who have one very prominent medium that they like to work in and are highly trained in. For someone with more of a diverse set of formats, I feel like the common thread or smooshing approaches might work better (I’m in the same boat). :)

      • Mark Powers says:

        Emilie! Thank you so much for showing the love and featuring me in this case study. You are absolutely incredible and it makes me happy to see all of the value and inspiration you are continually sharing with multipotentialites the world over.

        Honest to God, wearing your shirt right now!

    • Mark Powers says:

      Thanks, Em!

      One of the many beautiful things about any and all of the arts is that they can have a different meaning/value to different people. Some, like myself, enjoy making it a career—which can be amazing, but also means that it is indeed, at times, work (and can feel like any other job). Others love reserving their preferred art(s) as solely an escape from their usual routine. There can be great mental, emotional, psychological and even physical value in having an interest [such as music, photography, etc.] that one can occasionally disappear into, without it being an all-consuming pursuit.

      Whatever you do, do it only because you enjoy it, and never shy away from something because you don’t feel that you’re “good enough” at it. It’s not about being as good, or better, than the next guy/gal . . . it’s 100% about what it brings to your life. YOU doing what YOU love to do, in and of itself, and in its own small special way, makes the entire world a better place!

      Thanks for reading :)

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