The Humility of the Artist

I was reading Seth Godin’s blog post this morning and it profoundly hit the nail on the head. Here’s what he said,

It seems arrogant to say, “perhaps this isn’t for you.”

When the critic pans your work, or the prospect hears your offer but doesn’t buy, the artist responds, “that’s okay, it’s not for you.” She doesn’t wheedle or flip-flop or go into high pressure mode. She treats different people differently, understands that she is working to delight the weird, not please the masses, and walks away.

Isn’t that arrogant?

No. It’s arrogant to assume that you’ve made something so extraordinary that everyone everywhere should embrace it. Our best work can’t possibly appeal to the average masses, only our average work can.

Finding the humility to happily walk away from those that don’t get it unlocks our ability to do great work.

Knowing who you are and where you are going is branding. That is the brand, whether the brand is you, a product or service. Being confident in allowing your brand to be itself is not arrogantit is strategic. We must be artists, creators, innovators; we are all original.

I asked a client (singer/songwriter) the other day in a session, “Who was Michael Jackson like?” “What about Prince? Or Miles Davis?” The answer, obviously was no one. They were confident in being themselves and they created forms of music that no one before them had created. We don’t really consider musicians who followed in their footsteps to be legends. Being legendary requires being unique, different. It required these artists to be themselves, not attempting to please everyone, but pushing to have personal integrity and originality in their work.

Michael Jackson Prince Miles DavisNo one can be you. There is no competition to you. When you choose to be yourself and stay focused on a clear path, you don’t really compete with anyone. You now have something unique. Now all you have to do is market, effectively tell your story to a specific demographic. Branding and marketing…defining who you are, where you are going, and sharing that story effectively. 

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Telling Stories

When I sit with a potential client for the first time, I do my best to help them understand what it is I do. I help them understand that designing is secondary and so is their logo, their website and all the print collateral they will likely want to create. I help them understand the art of storytelling. What is their brand’s story? What will woo the masses to fall in love with them? It’s always an interesting conversation. I told one client, you pay me to give you permission to be yourself and to tell your story the way it was meant to be shared. They agreed.

Here is a great little article from Prashant Pinge from Media Panther about storytelling…enjoy.

Stories take people away from the vagaries of life, from the harsh reality that they find themselves trapped in. Stories allow a person to suspend disbelief, to believe in fantasies, to visit different worlds. Stories give people the opportunity to live those few moments vicariously, to experience what they otherwise never would. Stories inspire people to pursue lofty goals, to hope that there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Stories do all this, provided they are told well.

Branding is also about storytelling. But brands are very real. However, it is through their stories that people can really connect with them. A plain product remains functional. It performs its duties and is relegated back to anonymity. A brand on the other hand performs the function of the product. It also provides an escape of sorts to the consumer, creating an emotional connect to form a long-lasting relationship. And if its story is a truly gripping one, it also allows the consumer to express themselves through its use. That is the hallmark of a story truly well told. For instance, Apple’s story provides all three benefits.

When telling a story, it is important to keep in mind the audience. The story is not about the storyteller, it is about what pulls the audience in. A great brand does exactly that. It intrigues the mind, it appeals to the heart, and it engages the senses until the experience is a truly unique and memorable one, one that the consumer can keep going back to again and again. A stellar example is the Harley Davidson story. The consumer becomes willing to suspend any doubt, to step into the fantasy, to truly enjoy the experience, to be inspired and ultimately, to become one with the brand.

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This is My Art

Seth Godin, one of my favorite modern thinkers, released his newest book today. “The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?” is nothing short of brilliant. Two things might hold someone back from sharing the art they’ve got inside: The fear of telling the truth or the lame strategy of hiding the truth behind a sales pitch. If you can find the voice, stand up and tell people what you care about.

Your art is vitally important, and what makes it art is that it is personal, important and fraught with the whiff of failure. This is precisely why it’s scarce and thus valuable—it’s difficult to stand up and own it and say, “here, I made this.” – Seth Godin

Watch this video…go ahead and do it. Now.

At some point, art must involve a human. A human with intent. Your hand can be your heart or your words or your effort or a hug, but, yes, the work of a human. If you de-industrialize the process and return it to humanity, to connection, then yes, it’s art and yes, it will connect to other humans more effectively.


MY ARTThis is my art:

I’m good at helping tell your story to people who don’t really know it, yet need to know it. I create pictures that don’t speak a thousand words, but instead speak a few strategic words that provoke an inevitable response. I’m gifted at the art of ignoring boxes and rethinking possibilities. In essence, my art is helping give your art wings.

CALL ME 626.467.5335

ALSO, check out our LOFT and how it may support you.

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Why Storytelling is the Ultimate Weapon

I read a great article from Jonathan Gottschall, author of The Storytelling Animal, who says science backs up the long-held belief that story is the most powerful means of communicating a message. Here’s a snippet of the article.

In business, storytelling is all the rage. Without a compelling story, we are told, our product, idea, or personal brand, is dead on arrival. In his book,Tell to Win, Peter Guber joins writers like Annette Simmons and Stephen Denning in evangelizing for the power of story in human affairs generally, and business in particular. Guber argues that humans simply aren’t moved to action by “data dumps,” dense PowerPoint slides, or spreadsheets packed with figures. People are moved by emotion. The best way to emotionally connect other people to our agenda begins with “Once upon a time…”

Until recently we’ve only been able to speculate about the story’s persuasive effects. But over the last several decades psychology has begun a serious study of how the story affects the human mind. Results repeatedly show that our attitudes, fears, hopes, and values are strongly influenced by the story. In fact, fiction seems to be more effective in changing beliefs than writing that is specifically designed to persuade through argument and evidence.

Read the entire story: WHY STORYTELLING IS THE ULTIMATE WEAPON by Jonathan Gottschall

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If you want to Innovate…

Innovation doesn’t come from doing things over and over the same way. Innovation sets you apart from the clutter. It makes a way, where there was no way. Watch the video

“If you want to INNOVATE, you’ve gotta DESIGN.” -Marty Nuemeier

Marty Nuemeier shares that traditional business thinking is based on a two-step process, Knowing and Doing. However, Design Thinking adds an extra step in the middle…Making. The designer doesn’t accept the normal limitations of “what has already existed”. It may drive traditional thinkers nuts, but it’s what makes new innovations possible. Whether you call it “thinking outside the box” or Design Thinking, the answer is the same, innovation is needed and you aren’t going to get there without thinking like a designer.

A designer is anyone who devises ways to change existing situations into preferred ones. You have to be able to close the gap between what is and what could be.

At the end of the day…the success of your brand comes down to new thinking. It comes down to making new ideas out of seemingly nothing. It comes down to connecting to the world through the mind of a designer.

One of my clients is in the Real Estate world and told me one day that she loves my perspective because I don’t get stuck with what everyone else is doing in the industry. Basically, I don’t think like a Real Estate agent. What’s great is that she feels free to no longer think like one either.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” -Albert Einstein


Marty Neumeier is a designer, writer, and business adviser whose mission is to bring the principles and processes of creativity to the industry. His recent series of “whiteboard” books includes The Designful Company, about the role of design in corporate innovation; Zag, named one of the “top hundred business books of all time” for its insights into radical differentiation; and The Brand Gap, considered by many the foundational text for modern brand-building.

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29 WAYS TO STAY CREATIVE

My favorite is “Drink Coffee”. Enjoy.

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