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Jun 11 2010

What if Ralph Steadman was afraid to ship?

Usually the first thing that comes to mind when we hear the word "art" is "The Arts": visual arts, literature, and the performing arts - music, drama, dance, film, etc.

But art is much broader than that, and almost impossible to define.

A few weeks ago the one and only Anita Thompson pulled out a copy of the strange and hilarious The Devil's Dictionary and the entry for ART was "This word has no definition."  Too funny.  Too true.

Art is resourcefuness, solving a tricky problem that has everyone else stumped, finding a creative solution to a situation that is at an impasse, grace under pressure.

Art is humanity.  Kindness, caring, respect, speaking out against injustices, standing tall and being an inspiration to others to do the same, being a shoulder to lean on.

Art is politics.  Getting involved in your community, however that is defined.

Art is speaking up and sharing your thoughts, ideas, opinions and views. 

Art is great design, fine engineering, and highly functional or delicious "stuff"  like anything by Apple, Rolex watches, BIC pens, Audi motor cars, Under Armour, and craft beer.

The essential element of all of the above is that art has to be shared with others to be art.  Art is something that changes someone in some way.  Art transforms us in some way. 

Going back to The Devil's Dictionary, the defintion of PAINTING is "The art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather and exposing them to the critic."  And that's what Anita and I were discussing that day.  Our art only becomes art if we expose it to the weather, to the elements, to the world.  The resistance to doing so is that we fear that our art may be criticized. 

If we stand for anything in life, or share anything with the world, I can assure you that there will be someone standing ready to criticize us.  OK, here it is, The Devil's Dictionary of CRITIC is 'A person who boasts himself hard to please because nobody tries to please him."

So what?

All the fun and value in life comes from some form of art that someone has shared with the world.

Steve Jobs once said "Real artists ship." 

Today Seth Godin blogged about the Fear of Shipping: 

"Shipping is fraught with risk and danger.

Every time you raise your hand, send an email, launch a product or make a suggestion, you're exposing yourself to criticism. Not just criticism, but the negative consequences that come with wasting money, annoying someone in power or making a fool of yourself.

It's no wonder we're afraid to ship.

It's not clear you have much choice, though. A life spent curled in a ball, hiding in the corner might seem less risky, but in fact it's certain to lead to ennui and eventually failure.

Since you're going to ship anyway, then, the question is: why bother indulging your fear?

In a long distance race, everyone gets tired. The winner is the runner who figures out where to put the tired, figures out how to store it away until after the race is over. Sure, he's tired. Everyone is. That's not the point. The point is to run.

Same thing is true for shipping, I think. Everyone is afraid. Where do you put the fear?"

5 - 4 - 3 - 2 -1 this post is shipping right now and I'm off to Aspen!

Your very un-critical friend,

Jim Caruso