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Last Update: Saturday September 18, 2021

Key Idea: Live, Breathe, Eat, Sleep Your Work

Ken Done wakes up in the night with ideas he can't wait to try.  He even paints on his dining room table.  More...

Key Question:


Some say, "Yes."  Others, say, "No!" We say that it certainly helps to weather the storms and keep going when it gets tough.  That is why others say, "Love your work."

In the very beginning the reason someone has to live, eat, sleep the business when it is born is the same reason a newborn baby has to be watched so carefully. You can't just leave the baby for a few hours when you feel like going to a movie. As the business grows, we are in the habit of long hours; we see new visions and new opportunities that must be explored.

Marty Edelston, founder of Boardroom Inc, told us the same thing. Marty found himself working into the night because he had to do his regular job from 8-5.

This is run-of-the-mill for most small business owners.

Long hours go hand-in-hand with owning a business. Even when there are employees, the responsibility for hundreds of details fall on the shoulders of the owner. From food preparation to cash register tape, hundreds of details must be in place so that every customer enjoys continuity from every location.

Questions for this clip: 1 | 2

Think about it

If you launched a new product or service, who in your organization would commit to sleeping at the office if that was needed to succeed?

Clip from: Ken Done Gallery, Sydney - Leverage Art

   "I see business... as the most creative act of all." - Ken Done

Sydney: Meet Ken Done.  He has become one of Australia's most  beloved and respected artists with his own world-class following. We all struggle to master our talents and apply these talents in a meaningful way. That's life. And, that is how the best among us also define our work.

Meet a man who spent eighteen years mastering his craft and learning business skills. Then, he broke away to go down his own path.  Almost unwittingly he started a business through which he learned how to leverage his art in creative ways.

This business is a family businesses.

You meet Ken Done, his wife, Judy, and their daughter and son. Ken was never a starving artist yet he certainly paid his dues. With over 150 others working within this family enterprise, they make art affordable, often wearable and  even whimsical.

Today you meet an artist who like so many others follows his own heart. Often there is a price to pay  among the art community's elite.  In the earlier days they were not gentle on this man and his work. But Ken Done stood firm within his vision, he persevered, and today even his critics are giving him his due.

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The Ken Done Galleries

Ken Done, CEO, Artist-in-Residence

1 Hickson Road
The Rocks

02 9274 2740

Visit our web site:

Office: 02 9274 2740

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1991

Live, Breathe, Eat, Sleep Your Work

KEN: For an artist to start his gallery is just saying, `It's too inconvenient to wait till I'm dead for people to say, "Gee, he was really good, you know?"' And if you go to any gallery around the world, say it's a Monet exhibition or a Van Gogh exhibition, there'll be some stuff that you can buy that's come from their work.

HATTIE: Right. Stationery, whatever.

KEN: But what you can't do is call up Van Gogh and say, `Mate, they love these sunflower hats.' You can't do that because he is, what we in the trade, call dead. So I just think it's interesting to ... there's no reason why artists shouldn't make some money while they're alive.

KEN: (in his studio) Good. I've been working on this picture for about two years, but sometimes the last five minutes is the key part.

KEN: (Voiceover) Art, in a sense, teaches you more about failure than success, because you always want to go further. You always have the challenge, or I always feel, anyway, I have the challenge of getting better. No one has a charmed life. There's always great hills and valleys whatever you do, and there's always a fantastic amount of work. I mean, no matter how much talent you have, it's got to do with drive and a certain amount of God-given skill. But in the end, you really have to work hard at it.

KEN: (Voiceover) You don't start off at the top, do you? So, therefore, you have to see it; there's a path. And almost inevitably, that path will involve a degree of failure. But you have to have the passion to do it. You have to want to do it. You have to wake up in the middle of the night and think, `Geez, I've got to get that better' or `I've got to do that.' It doesn't drop out of the sky. Yeah, I reckon that's about it. I'll have a look.

KEN: I'm 62. I've got not enough time left to worry about anything else other than trying to be a good painter.

That's all that interests me, really.

KEN: And it's one of those things that maybe in your 60s or 70s is when you're at your most productive.

KEN: (in his studio) Always got to clean your brushes.

(Voiceover) You have to get the best out of every day. If you life this day well, then the memories that you have of this day is great and the expectation that you have of the next day is great.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) When you wake up in the morning, first thoughts?

KEN: (Voiceover) I'm ready to go to work. When I woke up this morning, I said to Judy, `I'm into the studio.' I wanted to go in and work. I wanted to work this morning. I want to work every day. I want to play every day.

HATTIE: You're having fun.

KEN: Absolutely. That's how it should be.

HATTIE: What can you do to bring your customers more joy, to shift their mood from negative to positive, to have a soulful impact? Figure that one out and you'll be as happy as we found Ken Done to be. We'll see you next time.

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