Books April 2013 – What is Art?

I committed to reading two books every month in 2013, one nonfiction book and one book of fiction. I cheated a little this month and read two nonfiction books, but both were really useful and made me think. A lot.

Steal Like an Artist: Ten Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon. Austin is an artist in Austin, Texas. He points out early on that all art is stealing. In his words, “Nothing is original.” This of course, is true: there is nothing new under the sun. But Kleon goes on to say that we all stand on the shoulders of giants and that it is impossible to actually copy someone else. The you in you always creeps in. Kleon demonstrates this by drawing 25 stars like so:

 

Each of them is unique despite being simple and identical in content. The best we can do is emulate the greats, it takes us to ourselves. ★★★★

Linchpin – Are You Indispensible? by Seth Godin. Godin lays out an argument that taking risks and doing the surprising and exceptional is really the only “safe” way to go in business and in life. I think he is absolutely correct. Playing it safe these days is death – ask any out-of-work UAW member.

But Godin takes it a step further. He points out that painting a painting is art, but so is a great marketing plan or great customer service. “Art,” in Godin’s words, “is anything that is creative, passionate and personal.” It involves risks. You can fail. Or get laughed at. If you create art, you will most assuredly have your critics and detractors. That’s o.k., because, according to Godin, by creating art we are being fully human and connecting with others, which is our highest calling.

This is a whole new way to think. It made quite an impression on me. 🙂 ★★★★★

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