You remember the story of Icarus, the kid who didn’t listen to his dad and flew to close to the sun? His waxy wings melted and he plummeted to his death in the sea. Seth Godin uses this greek myth to teach us about art. No, not marketing, but art. What does Icarus have to do with art? And how/why does marketing guru Seth Godin teach art?
Seth uses Icarus to point out we only know half the story. Icarus’s dad didn’t just tell him to not fly too close to the sun, but also warned him not to fly too low or the sea would wreck the lift of his wings. Flying is a delicate art, not too high, not too low, or disaster.
It’s far more dangerous to fly too low than too high, because it feels safe to fly low. We settle for low expectations and small dreams and guarantee ourselves less than we are capable of. By flying too low, we shortchange not only ourselves but also those who depend on us or might benefit from our work. We’re so obsessed about the risk of shining brightly that we’ve traded in everything that matters to avoid it.
Your work is your art. Art is about making a connection. Art isn’t limited to paper and palettes of color, it is your contribution to the world. It is aspiring to do great work for the purpose of making real connections with others. Do you influence? Are people changed for the better because their path crossed yours?
Making art is not easy, it forces us to see things from a different perspective or stretch our wings farther than we’re comfortable with. Fear of being wrong or rejected keeps us safe, but probably keeps us unsatisfied because we haven’t bloomed our potential.
Seth says art might scare you, might bust you, and it isn’t always pretty. But it is who we are and what we do and what we need. If you are brave, use insight, creativity and boldness to challenge the status quo, then you are an artist.
Read the story of Icarus again, see what you didn’t notice before. Then get yourself a copy of The Icarus Deception and be prepared for everything you thought you knew about art to be defied. I knew I was an artist – an unconventional one, but still an artist. Now, off I go to make better art.