Bruce Lee by Phil HansenSeth Godin is a writer and social commentator that I respect and follow. His writing is crisp, to the point, and his timely observations are usually right on the money. In his own words, he's an agent of change, and I couldn't agree more. He has a special way of saying things that almost always motivates me and spins up my imagination.

In a recent post "Can you change everything?" Seth offers up some options for change if you're feeling in a rut. Near the end of the list he suggests "Buy some art." I was intrigued. Who would Seth consider remarkable enough to suggest?

And the winner is...Phil Hansen from Benton City, Washington. After watching a few videos of Phil's performance art, I had to admit, his art certainly is remarkable. Phil's a very creative artist that offers up some fresh new ways of seeing art, while at the same time expanding the definition of what most people would call art.

Artists Dilemma

After seeing Phils' art, it occurred to me what is the artist's dilemma. It might be called many different things, but the dilemma essentially boils down to offering something "new" to the world. While some may see this search as an exercise in differentiation, a declaration of uniqueness, others might characterize it a seeking out a personal style.

In "Abstract Painting Concepts and Techniques," the author, Vicky Perry, describes this dilemma perfectly. When recounting the period of art following the Renaissance, when the church began to reduce the patronage of artists, she observes,

"Painting developed within the context of ideas about where innovation would take place and thus the search for "newness" became a competitive market motivation for painters."

I think this search for innovation continues on today. As I recognized this search taking place within myself, I asked myself, "Is that it?" Is that "the mystery" about why some artists break out and others don't?

It's difficult at this time to say, but it seems pretty convincing that innovation is a critical ingredient in the success of an artist. But I have a feeling that there is something else. What immediately jumps into my mind is that art has to have a story. Let's use the familiar metaphor, "A picture is worth a thousand words."

At least for me, right now, most of the art I contemplate producing will be visual, paintings, drawings, collage, sculpture, etc. While video has always intrigued me, I don't think I'll experiment with it for a while. I have so many ideas and projects already lined up in the visual arts, I just don't want to lose the momentum I'm building to add video, but who knows, right? Any way, I digress.

If a piece of art (a picture) is worth a thousand words, then, I think it follows, that those thousand words should tell a story. Within the mixture of artist, environment, motivation, materials, and technique, a piece of art should communicate something. Sure there is some art which is just plain fun to look at, but I've got a gut feeling that it must also tell a story.

Coming full circle, Seth suggests in his book "All Marketers are Liars" that there is only one sure path to successful marketing in our ADD overcrowded marketplace. That path involves creating a story for your, products, services, and your company that affirms people's world view. So I wonder if that applies to art? If you create a successful story for a piece of art that makes someone feel "right" about their world, then you should be able to sell it to them. Seems plausible, right? I'd say it is at least worth further consideration.