This is not art for art’s sake anymore

Photo: The art of Frank Wright

Icarus: The art of Frank Wright

Andy Fife is the Director of Shunpike and an Independent Consultant for Art Strategy and Innovation according to his LinkedIn profile. From reading the title alone, you may not fully understand the philosophical depth of Fife’s work and the impact he has made through successful integration of this philosophy.

I was able to hear Fife talk on Saturday at the University of Washington and was thrilled to gain a deeper understanding of his perspective on art and strategy as well as learn more about what his title really means.

From my understanding, Fife believes that the integration of art is intrinsic and absolutely necessary for a project’s ultimate success. Without it we will miss something valuable. In his philosophy “art is the how not just the why.”

This means we use the culture we already have around us to inform our decisions on business, health care, or transportation. We need to do this because people are making art every day in their homes, in their work, in their communities. It is on a small scale, not an opera house or a theatre, but in parlors, offices and public parks.

With this in mind, Fife believes “we can create something together and you do not have to have all the answers in order to create something beautiful.” The art is part of the process and the process illuminates the culture and the decisions that must be made.

Fife’s talk paralleled the thoughts within Seth Godin’s The Icarus Deception. Godin proposes the idea that everyone is an artist and that it is our responsibility to ourselves as well as our society to break free from the comfort zone we have been taught in order to create art. This art isn’t something that hangs on the wall, Godin clarifies, it is something that stretches us beyond where we currently stand in order to impact an audience we are trying to reach. Ignore the crowds, Godin says, the crowds are always wrong.

Fife’s work is along these lines. He is creating his art by weaving art into questions generally unassociated with art. It is not art for art’s sake, it is art for a reason. Godin’s art has purpose too. Godin specifies, if your art is not connecting with your audience, you have failed. If you have created art and it is never published, you have failed. For both, art is for change. And for both, art is within every person. There is no scarcity of art in our communities. We just need to harness it and make an impact!

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The Need to Create Outside of the Safe Zone

@Maggiebrookes Instagram

@Maggiebrookes Instagram

One of my favorite quotes from The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin is “You have no idea what you’re doing. If you did, you’d be an expert, not an artist.” I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur when I was in business school. I saw those people and thought that isn’t me. Reading the interview with Jeff Fluhr, I am reinforced with the idea, that I am not that person. I do not take risks that throw me off the plan – high school, college, job, graduate school, better job. The plan is my safe zone.

But Godin challenges that significantly and inspires the potential for change. The quote from the beginning reminds me that I do not have to have all the answers in order to put my best into something and to create art. And that it is the creation of art that will make me, my company and the stakeholders successful. It is a reminder that there is more to business strategy and to creation than the standard step-by-step process. Being an expert in a field can only get me so far. I can know everything there is to know about content strategy, but if I use the same formulaic strategy as everyone else, I will accomplish nothing. I need to step outside of the safe zone into the artist’s realm and learn to create something from nothing.