Re-Defining Art

I’ve been reading the archives over at Seth Godin’s blog and came across a really interesting post on what exactly constitutes art in modern culture. Over the past couple of years I’ve noticed a bit of a return to an appreciation of aesthetics whether it’s in technology design or specifically photography with iPhone apps like Instagram. It seems like art is undergoing a bit of a fluid transformation. I am not sure I’d put it on par with some of the past movements in art and culture, but there surely is something happening with the way we relate to and define what art is. Seth offers a broader definition of what exactly constitutes art and I’d like to throw it out there for your consideration. Here’s what he says.

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.

So whatever we do best, when we’re doing that, we’re creating art. Even the language we use for non-art things describes this. When a baseball pitcher is really on, the commentators will say he’s “painting the corners”. I’ve heard Joanna Newsom’s album Ys be referred to as her Sistine Chapel.

What Seth has right is that art can way more than paint and canvas.

Whatever we do best is our art. That means everyone is an artist.

Or more particularly — you’re an artist. So what are you creating?


Please keep your comments positive. I reserve the right to delete rude or insulting comments. If your comment is critical, please make sure it is also constructive. Thank you.

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