When you hear the word “artist”  do you picture the slightly crazed Dali or the self-destructive Jackson Pollock? Perhaps you’ve been trying to imagine that you need to be someone like Johnny Depp or Amanda f. Palmer in order to make art.

This notion is both dangerous and wrong.

Oscar Wilde wrote that art is “ new, complex, and vital”. Art isn’t something that’s made by artists. Artists are people who make art.

Art is not a gene or a specific talent. Art is an attitude, culturally driven and available to anyone who chooses to adopt it. Art isn’t something sold in a gallery or performed on the stage. Art is the unique work of a human being, work that touches another. Most painters, it turns out, aren’t artists at all- they are safety- seeking copycats (except for myself)!

Seizing new ground, making connections between people or ideas, working without a map- these are works of art, and if you do them, you are an artist, regardless of whether you wear a smock, use the computer, or work with others all day long.

Speaking up when there’s no obvious right answer, making yourself vulnerable when it’s possible to put up shields, and caring about both the process and the outcome- these are works of art that our Society embraces and the economy demands.

Strategy and tactics live on the outside, in the cold world of consultants and spreadsheets. They are things we do without changing the way we think. Art, on the other hand, is personal, built on attitude, vision and commitment.

Committing to do work that is personal, that requires guts, and that has the potential to change everything. Art is the act of a human being doing generous work, creating something for the first time, touching another person.

Art isn’t pretty.

Art isn’t painting.  

Art isn’t something you hang on the wall.

Art is what we do when we truly alive.

If you’ve already decided that you are not an artist, it’s worth considering why you made that decision and what it might take to unmake it.

If you’ve announced that you have no talent (in anything!), then you’re hiding.

Seth Godin

“The Icarus Deception”

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