Art and Business: How do you combine polar opposites?

Highlights from our discussion with successful Bulgarian composer Tihomir Hristozov.
By Gabriella Bassi

In 2012 I had the amazing opportunity to take part in “Physical Ballet”, a project created by Daniel Jones, a solo performer for the English National Ballet. During one of the rehearsals, as I was concentrating on getting through one of many complicated choreographies, he stopped me, simply saying “You have to sell your art!”. Somehow, I knew exactly what he meant: my art, or my dancing, was the ‘product’ the audience was paying to see, I had to dance for them. However, as I was only a semi-professional performer, never fully relying on this to pay my bills, I wasn’t fully trained to look at ballet and see a business.

Ever since then, I’ve been trying to find the exact recipe for a balance between something as priceless as the emotion one feels when creating any kind of art, and turning it to business. I mean, how can you put a price on what you’re feeling? Over the years, I got an abundance of varying answers to my question, while also meeting with different performers and creators. However, despite that, there seemed to be one thing which became a constant axiom: doing art is business, just as doing business is art.

There are so many ‘tips and tricks’, necessary to form a successful business, however finding success in marketing your art has its own specifics; a middle ground filled with an enormous array of obstacles, which you have to face, apply your skills and overcome. And besides, setting everything else aside, most artists have their own inner struggles, often gone unseen by anybody else around them. And in this risky endeavour— mixing artwork and business, they tend to go about it without exterior assistance.
For many creative individuals, finding their passion for art is only the beginning of a long, complicated process, during which the artist will mould and transform themselves into a businessman or woman. In order to discover the necessary principles, which one should learn, synthesise and integrate, before putting everything together to form a viable, long-lasting, flourishing business, we’ve invited Tihomir Hristozov to help us out. Tihomir, coming originally from Plovdiv, is a Bulgarian composer, musician and artist, working for the Board of Hollywood/International Film Productions.

Tihomir Hristozov

Tihomir took up music, as many as twenty six years ago, becoming hypnotised by the melody of what eventually became his first musical instrument— the bagpipe. Years later, he’s perfected his ability when it comes to piano, the synthesiser and several percussion instruments. In addition, Tihomir is involved in creating sound design for Bulgarian, as well as Hollywood films, film trailers, commercials, video games and T.V series. And when he decides to take a break from music, Tihomir professionally exercises and creates different types of visual art. From the comforts of his own music studio in Plovdiv, Tihomir creates original electronic and acoustic music, and has partaken in big projects, along the lines of Wonder Woman (2017), Red Sparrow (2018), etc. One of his most recent collaborations is with French composer Vivien Chebbah, working on some of the new tracks for his album “ANNIHILATION 3”.

Here are his thoughts on combining art and business:

“I drew towards me what I thought about every single day”
I’ve always asked myself questions along the lines of “what is the total of impossible things in the world?”, and the answer was always simple; “a lot”. But with the power of positive thinking, the personal field for expression and opportunity begins to multiply, becoming more and more comprehensive and inexhaustible, as long as you master it before it becomes so much an unchangeable part of you, such as, for example, your own blood type. No matter what others think or say, an artist should never stop dreaming. Trivial, mundane obstacles and problems should never make us question our own choices, or stand in the way of our positive attitude towards the music, which pours from within our souls, or the work, which we are drawn to love.

“Everything has its way”
I’ve been able to notice the “shortcut” phenomenon in many people, which always borders the lagging of the falsely predicted quick rise to success. Like a young child running up the stairs, the appeal of skipping steps along the way up often does not end well, or at the least, ends in disappointment, as the child often trips on their way up. Everything has its way. Patience is a long-lasting quality, whose development is worth investing in, no matter the cost; depending on the individual mental age or state of the given person. Everyone is different, and we operate in different ways and at different levels; just as something might be perfect for someone, it’ll be different for someone else.

“Failure is a priceless mentor”
Many artists are terrified of failure. Most will stay in the tight circle of their comfort zone, just because that’s what they’re used to. They’re afraid that maybe they’ll be erased off someone’s ‘list’, and are blind to the benefits which their work has brought them, be it unsatisfactory, it is appreciated. But then, what about the acquisition of new skills and knowledge? Anger, fear and confusion are normal reactions to failure,
but what we really need is to understand what exactly went wrong. What can we take away from this? What do we know we’re not going to be doing again? If we don’t learn from our mistakes, we’re bound to make them over and over again. We need to remember that you can always try again; we never really fail until we stop trying to get it right. We need to remember that you can never make anyone happy or cater to everyone’s tastes, and the best we can do is try our best.

“My work is an adventure”
The majority of artists might agree, that the staticity of being in your studio all day is not exceptionally exciting or dynamic; but every new project is inherently different in itself in its emotions, and required skills. Though it sounds contradictory, everything I do is a mundane adventure, where each collaboration, whether with local or international companies, means I learn something new and enrich my personal experience. This is an incredibly important source of inspiration when it comes to a creative, imaginative business, where originality and distinguished authority are key in order for an artist to set themselves apart and be noticed by the right people in the given industry they’re creating for. Self assessment and conscious awareness of searching for contacts and collaborators of different cultures and nationalities and professional backgrounds are incredibly important when it comes to reaching outside your creative comfort zone, and enriching your horizons. It is the gateway to new opportunities and, honestly, the halfway point to success.

“If you feel like you’re lacking an environment where you can grow, make one yourself”
If there’s will, there’s a way. And if you lose sight of your goal, then there’s always excuses too. An environment friendly to promoting growth and self development is incredibly important; likewise if the said environment is lacking in quality, or in general, something has to be done. Given that every change begins within ourselves, it is fair to say that in and of ourselves, we have the ability to change, mould or even create the necessary environment, within which we can feel ourselves growing in the right direction, under the most possibly enriching influence. In an age where we can reach someone with a simple click of a mouse, the actual physical location of someone is of little importance. It requires a global perspective and purposefulness.

“Motivation leads to accomplishment”
On my journey of making art into business, my biggest obstacle was, and still is, myself. Anything can be good in moderation, and anything in excess turns out to be detrimental. Let the strive for perfection be moderated, and solely a supporting engine in your journey to self-refinement.

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