Let me show you my best painting secret!
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An artist seeks to create, not to replicate.
There are many conflicting ideas about being an artist. There is very little middle ground on the topic. Either you are fully behind the idea of making a go of art for a living or you think it is simply a nice hobby. Those in the former group are not necessarily professional artists, but they would love to be if only ...
Seth Godin's new book, The Icarus Deception, is aimed at lifting the veil on an uncomfortable truth. Icarus as we all know flew too close to the sun, despite being warned not to by his father, resulting in an unfortunate end to his brief flying career when the sun melted the wax holding his wings together. Evidently no MacGyver Icarus's demise showed us that disobedience and getting beyond our abilities would lead to an unhappy end.
Godin points out that the Icarus was also warned not to fly too low to the sea otherwise his wings would not get enough lift, which would also lead to an unpleasant ending. This part of the fable seems to have been left out, certainly in the story I learnt at school. Do not fly too low! That is a message that has been lost over the past few centuries. Particularly with the advent of the industrial economy.
Godin argues that the industrial economy requires much labour. This extends from the ground level up to management level. All these people have one duty and that is to fit into nice compartments that keep the industrial economies of the world ticking along. Corporate ladder-climbers, cubicle dwellers, blue and white collar workers (all terms sadly arising from this state of affairs) contribute to this one idea. At least until recently.
Without any fanfare at all many of the gatekeepers for us regular folks have been removed mainly thanks to the internet. Barriers have fallen and new opportunities have quietly arisen. The problem is that we still harbor the fears and social conditioning of two centuries of brainwashing. Sounds dramatic, but is it not true? The cream of the school system is directed to one end only. Supporting the system within a corporate structure.
Not convinced? Who are the big names in the modern economy that really stand out. Jeff Bezos? Richard Branson? The late Steve Jobs? Certainly not Jeff Smith in accounting or Bob in the mergers department. The stars in this line-up are all unique, because of one thing. They all chose their own way as artists.
Artists in the sense of free thinkers standing outside the corral. Outside of the fence that industrial society has used for two hundred years to keep us thinking small. These structures have kept us fearful, in debt and fed with shiny trinkets to distract us. Our hopes tied to the lotto!
This new century, so far filled with turmoil largely due to these shackles being removed, is going to be the time for the artists in us all to stand up for ourselves and make a go of it. As Godin says, it is time to pick yourself, because no one else is going to do it for you. It is our turn. Exciting times!