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All Art Involves Risk– And We’re All Called To Be Artists

March 7, 2018

In his book The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin says that art– to really qualify as art– has to be transformative, generous, and involve risk.

He goes on to say that an artist is “someone who does something human, something that touches another.”

I really like that definition. It’s an important reminder: we’re all artists whenever we try to make a difference, act generously, and are willing to take a risk.

The above ideas are expressed in a short passage in the book. I decided to turn it into an infographic of sorts, using emoji.

Art is transformative generous risky Seth Godin Icarus Deception expressed with emoji

blank vertical space, 24 pixels highI thought Mr. Godin deserved his own emoji, so I doctored one up and added a pair of clip-art glasses.blank vertical space, 24 pixels highSeth Godin face as emoji with big eyeglasses

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highRe the title, The Icarus Deception: in Greek mythology, Icarus flies too close to the sun with wings made of feathers and wax. The sun melts the wax, and he falls into the sea and drowns.

The “lesson” we learn from this is usually: Pride goeth before a fall, and/or don’t get above yourself, play it safe, too much ambition leads to ruin, etc.

Mr. Godin says this lesson is a deception. For starters: Icarus’ father Daedalus (who made the wings) not only told him not to fly too high (lest the sun melt the wax), but also not to fly too low (lest the moisture wafting up from the sea make the feathers wet and heavy).

Mr. G’s main point: today’s economy rewards art (vision), rather than compliance (just doing what you’re told). The old safety nets (job security, pensions) are gone.

Getting ahead by keeping your head down is no longer a career strategy. You have to take the initiative. Hence the book’s subtitle: How high will you fly?

Here’s another question: When was the last time you acted artistically and took a risk?blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

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About Mark: I’m an illustrator specializing in humor, branding, social media, and content marketing. I create images that get content seen and shared.

You can view my portfolio, and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Questions? Send me an email.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. RKLikesReeses permalink
    March 9, 2018 4:49 PM

    Oh, wow. This is an extraordinarily powerful post. At first – before I had a chance to let it percolate in mind – it intimidated me. Transformative? Affecting? My stuff? Hah! Taking artistic risks? Well, yes, always. So maybe I was part way to being able to say I’m a real artist. Generous? Hmmm. Not sure, can’t figure out how to define that in terms of paint, etc. So I wandered away to look at Twitter, not wanting to leave a generic comment here. And you know what? With your post on my mnd I decided to take a few more risks there – not artistic ones, but personal ones. I followed a couple of people whom I’d previously been fearful of following lest they turn out to be evil bots. And I liked a few strangers’ posts, something I never do. Scary! They might ignore me! Silly, right? Well, this comment has gone on too long. I just wanted to say thank you for this post and why it was important to me. It encouraged me to make some incremental – but significant – changes in the art of living. 😀


    • March 16, 2018 2:56 PM

      What a lovely comment, my dear RK. And you know what? It was truly artistic. Why? Because it was transformative (= elevated the discussion), generous (= was kind and supportive to yours truly), and risky (= shared something of yourself, and we always take a risk whenever we do that). And yes, you are most assuredly an artist because your work adds a new dimension to the world, offers itself for contemplation, and shares who you are => transforming, generous, risky, and very much worth the risk. Well done on taking some chances (acting artistically!!), and thanks as always for your tremendous support!! 🏆🏆🏆😊


  2. March 25, 2018 11:30 AM

    Transformative – Generous and Risky …hmmm I’d add that these 3 words should apply to both artist and viewer… risk included! Maybe galleries should add at their entrances: “view at your own risk!” As for the artist, he surely is unaware of all 3 as he/she does what comes natural: create! Master Mark, you have again created an exceptional, transformative, generous post …eek… the risk is that I can’t go away from this page! 😉 Stuck forever! 🤔🙄👹👀👍🙃


    • March 30, 2018 8:37 AM

      So true, my dear Marina!– going into a gallery is always risky. For example, when I visit the Mt. Olympus Art Gallery and see your work, I’m not just transformed emotionally, spiritually, and metaphysically, I’m also transported physically!! I fall into a trance, then a swoon, then I float across the room and out the window!! Sometimes I wind up miles away in somebody’s flower bed, and have a long walk back to where I parked my roller skates!! It’s worth it, however… 🌷🌸🌹☺️🌺🌻🌼🚑👽👽👽

      You’re stuck on this page?? Oh, dear! I must have accidentally mopped the floor with glue. That happens sometimes. Don’t go away– I’ll bring you some refreshment and a new pair of shoes… 👠👠🍨🍨🍨🍨😋


      • March 31, 2018 7:40 AM

        …well, actually, I lied! No risk. I’m having a great time here so no new shoes needed! As for the refreshment, well your pages do that amply! 😋🍹🍸🍷


        • April 5, 2018 3:23 PM

          Thank you for that highly intoxicating comment!! 🍷🍸🍹🍺🍼😋🚀🌖💥🚑💨👽👽👽👽👽👽😊

          Liked by 1 person

        • April 9, 2018 3:26 PM



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