What a corporate boardroom and artist studio have in common

This month’s Smart Business focuses on women in business. We have some great stories and good advice from female executives at all stages of their careers — as well as one professional artist.

When I first got the idea to interview Lenka Clayton for Uniquely Pittsburgh, I wondered if featuring an artist in a business management magazine was too much of a stretch. I even mentioned that fear to Clayton when I was talking to her.

As our conversation progressed, though, her perspectives on work-life balance, as well as being a mother and a professional, echoed a lot of what I’ve heard from female business executives.

Clayton also mentioned that there’s so much advice out there about how to balance your home and professional lives — and so much of it is contradictory and not helpful — that she hesitates to add to that cacophony.

Who knew that the corporate boardroom and an artist studio would be so similar? Clayton pointed out that every artist who is surviving in the profession is an entrepreneur. Also, because you’re self-employed, like many entrepreneurs who are starting out, she says there’s no structure for insurance or retirement and when you’re not able to work it can be very stressful.

The issue of being both a parent and a professional, which led to Clayton’s Artist Residency in Motherhood, is one I often hear about from women in business — and strikingly don’t hear much about from male executives. (Although to be fair, I wouldn’t think to bring the subject up with a male executive.)

“There’s a whole misnomer in business of doing everything — being an incredible business woman or powerful business man and also an incredible mother (or father), and trying to do those things at once,” Clayton says.

Today, Clayton has been surprised at the robust response. Her open-source residency is even being utilized in countries that have a strong support for new mothers, like Germany, France, the Netherlands and Australia. Clearly, she found an unmet need.