What is Art?

Is art only sculptures, and paintings, and things? What about a play or a movie? What about video games?

Is art only what can be seen? Then how would you define poems, songs, and fine cuisine? Are singers and songwriters liars or just mislabeled as artists?

Can only finished pieces be art? Then how can movies and video games publish and sell books of the half finished sketches and paintings that inspired the final product?

Does art have to not have a sales intent to be considered art? I have seen greeting cards, movie posters, and even commercials that would challenge that idea.

Everyone has an opinion on what is art and what isn’t. There is no universally accepted definition that encompasses all of art. Even artists are split on what art is and can be. Art is a profession that is shrouded in mystery, romance, and glamour. In art school, the focus was on teaching you the tools of your trade so they didn’t get in the way of your creativity and expression. Not one of my teachers even tried to define “art”.

One thing that I’ve yet to find an exception for is that all art tells a story.

For movies and videos games, the story is blatant. For greeting cards and commercials, the story either encourages action or evokes emotion. The best art in my opinion always does. Paintings, sculptures, songs, even well made food tell a story – even if that story is as simple as “this is what I care about”.

Do you use art as part of your business’ messaging? Do you make art yourself? What story do you want to tell? Is your art telling that story?

See you next Wednesday.

Chris Jabas

New Year, New Commitment

What is your New Years’ ritual?

I spend the night at my church playing board games and feasting on potluck. We toast the new year with Communion (eating wafers and drinking grapefruit juice) and sharing our hopes for the coming year. Then my wife and I usually get home early enough to watch the ball drop and head to bed. By morning, not much has changed.

Except that everything has changed.

We mark the passage of time by minutes, hours, days, months, seasons, and years. What we don’t put enough emphasis on is that we mark the passage of our lives by changes we make. Karen’s going to college. The Jordan’s started trying to get pregnant. Joe gave up drinking. Leslie finally got to retire.

New Year’s is where the two time keeping methods coincide, and the ways people choose to mark the occasion fascinates me. Especially resolutions. People commit to doing things differently, to separating their past from their future. They’re going to do the thing, by howdy.

By February that commitment has shriveled on the vine, killed at the first resistance that was found. Somehow people think that making the resolution part of the ritual of New Years’ will somehow magically make them be able to keep this one. If you’re going to make a resolution, realize that you will need to work to keep it. You will have to make time for it, you will have to spend money and energy and time to pursue it. You will have to defend it when asked about it. You will not receive the recognition you want for it when you want it. You will get discouraged, and there will come a time when you will not care whether or not you fail.

Do not give up. Not then, not ever.

Every day, renew your commitment to your actions. Acknowledge the work that needs to be done, and then start doing it. Eventually you’ll realize your life isn’t the same and that time is no longer passing you, but passing with you.

See you next Wednesday, and Happy New Year.

Chris Jabas