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What being an artist has done to my consulting practice

Updated: Apr 20, 2022

For much of my career I was a prolific commentator on trade remedies and other trade policy matters. I wrote a book, I had articles published in journals, I was quoted in newspapers, I was interviewed on TV and I produced original research that was featured in the media. In the past decade I have no longer been doing any of this and, if I was to carry on my current approach, I would not have a trade remedies blog.

I have recently been thinking about why I stopped commenting publicly on my areas of expertise. As my practice has developed, I have tended to work more in the background with clients. One of the things that I do is to help clients have opinions on new legislation or policy developments and, in this context, my opinion is not relevant. There came a point when I stopped exposing my own opinions as publicly as I used to. It was never a decision, it just kind of happened.

I guess it's not a coincidence that the past 10-15 years have seen a lot of change in my life. In my mid-40s I started to deal with some mental health issues. Like a lot of people, for many years these issues had been hidden behind the exterior where I still presented a strong image of a functioning human being. I never thought that they were serious enough to merit deeper attention. Rather I always convinced myself that they were going to get better if I could just get more organised or try a bit harder. Eventually they became sufficiently disruptive to my wellbeing that I was forced to get some help. This was a great decision and the past decade has seen me truly discover who I am and allowed me to evolve into a more authentic me.

Part of this change was that I went back to university part-time and studied fine art. I loved becoming an artist and, for a while, I considered leaving my successful economics career and trade remedies business behind. However, I realised that I was now an artist and an economist. In effect, it felt like I had supercharged the left and right sides of my brain so that, acting together, they became a really powerful combination whether I am doing business or making art.

In addition to my consulting business and my art work, I am very interested in exploring the space between business and creativity as the Artist-Economist. Believe it or not, approaching trade remedies as the Artist-Economist has brought interesting and profound insights!

As an artist, my output is public in terms of being readily available on my website and social media. I have really found my voice as an artist and I would like to extend that into my consulting business, particularly through the evolution of the Artist-Economist. So I've decided to start being more vocal again around trade remedy issues. This will include videos on various trade remedy and other trade policy issues. It will also include starting a blog, of which this is the first post!

In terms of my opinions on trade remedies I have a balanced experience. I've done extensive work on all sides of the arguments, both for export and domestic interests. Since Brexit, and a shift in the centre of trade policy gravity from Brussels to London, my work has become much more focused on UK industry. I do have strong opinions on the importance of manufacturing in the UK economic and the economic & political importance of trade remedies to protect against global trade distortions. I also have some doubts about orthodox economic analysis of international trade, particularly in viewing trade policy issues from the Artist-Economist perspective. These are the issues that I will explore in this blog.

Please don't interpret the above as an indication that I am less serious about my trade remedies work. I'm not going to start becoming a commentator on 'big picture' trade policy issues. My love is in the technical detail and I am still a trade remedies nerd! So I will still be providing detailed technical commentaries and analyses on trade remedy issues. I will particularly be focusing on UK legislation, UK trade remedy decisions and WTO dispute settlement in the area of trade remedies. However, I may also comment on other global trade remedy issues and well as other trade policy and customs issues.

Please feel free to comment on the blog posts or contact me directly if you would like to discuss anything above.

Click the video tab above to see available trade remedy videos or visit my Cliff Stevenson Consulting YouTube channel.

If you are interested in my art, visit my cliffstevensonart website.

Finally, I do mental health and creativity mentoring on a one-to-one basis. If you would like to discuss in confidence how this might help you in business, or in life more generally, please do contact me.

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