the artists I envy

I’m a big fan of Seth Godin. That probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise for those of you who are familiar with him and his work.

Sure I just went through Seth’s handmade reimagining of an online course, altMBA, but it’s more than that. The man has written every day for the last 17 years. And he has given me the courage and permission to call myself an artist.

I define art as having nothing at all to do with painting.

Art is a human act, a generous contribution, something that might not work, and it is intended to change the recipient for the better, often causing a connection to happen.

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My definition of art contains three elements:

  1. Art is made by a human being.
  2. Art is created to have an impact, to change someone else.
  3. Art is a gift. You can sell the souvenir, the canvas, the recording… but the idea itself is free, and the generosity is a critical part of making art.

By my definition, most art has nothing to do with oil paint or marble. Art is what we’re doing when we do our best work.

I’ve never considered myself to be a painter, a musician, or a graphic artist of any kind. But these definitions really resonated with me.

But I truly envy the types of artists listed above because of how straight-forward collaborations can be. I don’t mean to oversimplify – there is a ton of work and coordination for two musicians or graphic artists to collaborate. But to see and experience each other’s work and imagine how a collaboration can be done seems fairly straight-forward to me by comparison.

I meet people all the time who are doing really cool things in tech, music, community building, entrepreneurship, design, etc. I would love to work with so many of them. But I struggle to envision how I can collaborate with those folks on short-term or one-off projects.

Maybe it’s simplifying my own definition of collaboration. Finding small ways to spend time with people and share ideas or lend a hand without needing some ultimate “final product.” I’m not sure what the answer is, but I’m working to find more creative ways to collaborate more.


Hey, can I have your email address? I will only send you more articles like this one.