What’s Your Art?

March 26, 2013

print from little things studio

By Amy Hackworth. Image by Little Things Studio.

Seth Godin writes about business and marketing in the best way, because I always find some fascinating idea that sounds suspiciously like good advice for living. When he writes about being brave, bold, and authentic in business, and especially the importance of contributing your work to the world, it seems to apply whether you’re the Manager of Home Affairs (my friend Sally’s title for her work as a stay-at-home-mom) or the CEO of a brick-and-mortar business.

I’m not a faithful follower, but every time I check in on Seth’s blog lately, he is talking about being authentic, and the importance of doing your unique work. He calls it art, but he’s not talking about visual arts necessarily. Your “art” is really just the thing you love, the thing you’re good at, the thing you do that’s authentically you. And we are all artists. Even if our work is simple, I believe being true to what we do, to our sphere of responsibility, does make the world a better place.

So we all have something special to offer the world, and Seth Godin’s questions revolve around whether or not we will. It can be a little scary. Are we willing to show up? To share our voice? To contribute our ideas and stories? To shine?

V is for Vulnerable, one of Godin’s latest books, addresses this grown-up question in a simple, inspiring way. The alphabet-style, looks-like-its-for-kids book explores the somewhat intimidating realm of authenticity, hard work, honest choices, and engaging with what you offer life. Exciting, right?

One of the letters that resonates most with me is J, for Joy. “Joy is the satisfaction of connection,” he writes, describing the fulfillment of doing your work, and sharing it. It doesn’t matter what your art is, as long as it creates connection. When it does, you’ve made a difference, and that is joy.

What’s your “art”? I’d love to hear the first thing that pops into your head (or the second or the third would be great, too). Have you felt nervous to share/offer/publish/create it? Have you felt the sort of joy Godin describes when you do?

P.S. — Gabrielle’s post about The Impact of One is a great illustration of this powerful idea. And thanks, Liz & Andrew for sharing V is for Vulnerable with me!

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 KatieB March 26, 2013 at 8:40 am

I recently went to a workshop where this quote was shared with me. I think it speaks exactly to what you are talking about here. Your post also made my wonder why answering the question ‘what is your art?’ is so difficult for me. I will try to channel my 5 year old self to answer that…

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And, if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” -Martha Graham

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2 Amy Hackworth March 26, 2013 at 10:38 am

Wow, KatieB. Thanks for sharing that Martha Graham quote. Beautiful! Inspiring!

And I agree, it can be a tough question to answer.

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3 Shannon March 26, 2013 at 9:31 am

In recent years I have come to realize that encouragement is ‘my art’ and people my medium, if you will.

I had difficulty in the past identifying what my unique gift was because I have so many (what I considered) truly creative types around me (my husband is a talented sculptor, some of my siblings are musicians, etc.).

However, the longer I live, the more I value and try to embrace this particular trait I feel God has placed in my spirit. Hebrews 10:24 is one of the bible verses I try and live up to in this respect.

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4 Amy Hackworth March 26, 2013 at 10:41 am

Shannon, I love your response. Thank you for sharing this. I think what you describe truly is an art. I love that you know that’s your gift. Just looked it up, and I can see how Heb 10:24 would be a great guide.

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5 Justin March 26, 2013 at 10:42 am

Love it! Great post (as always). I hope my kids feel they have something to offer in whatever they choose to spend their time doing. I was so happy the other day when the whole family sat around drawing pictures and my son, proud of what he’d cooked up, said, “Maybe I am an artist after all.” Indeed you are, son.

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6 Alex March 26, 2013 at 11:49 am

Some people realize their passions as children and know what they are meant to do from the very beginning. This has not been the case for me– I am interested in many, many different things. I have been stressed and bothered by this lack of clear direction, but I am trying now to enjoy the ride and to welcome new and interesting experiences.

This comment is for others like me. I’m hoping to discover something- to refine a skill- and to make that thing my life’s work. Until then, I’ll consider myself a mixed-media, abstract artist.

Alex Talks

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7 Amy Hackworth March 26, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Alex, I can totally relate. I think some people seem to have a clearly defined “art” from childhood, and others–me and you–meander to our work. I like the idea that sometimes our work is really showing up for life, being present, being ready to give what we can even when it’s not a clearly defined.

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8 Lauren March 26, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Sewing! And often, cooking too.
I think about vulnerability a lot as it relates to my work- it’s hard to put yourself out there, especially if you’ve made something that you think is crazy wonderful!

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9 Amy Hackworth March 27, 2013 at 7:30 am

Lauren, it seems you have a gift for the crazy wonderful! I love your shop!

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10 Connie Z. March 26, 2013 at 6:20 pm

My art is drawing. And teaching others to draw. :)

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11 Me and Wee March 26, 2013 at 6:36 pm

My art? Painting! (or….)
This is a topic I’ve been grappling with for the past several months. My particular issue is that I’ve always known I’ve wanted to be an artist, but it’s been so hard to settle in to a particular genre and style since I enjoy so many different things. I originally did graphic design and advertising in a corporate space, but then moved on to designing invitations and announcements for private clients, and then on to letterpress stationery/art, and now I’m selling illustrations/paintings. And to take it further, I’m now grappling with the STYLE of the paintings…cartoony? abstract? whimsical/childish? It can be so overwhelming to try and pinpoint what we are when we aren’t ONE thing, we are MANY things. I want to be successful and make the right choices but I just don’t know what the answers are. Right now I’m simply praying and listening for the answers while I try and do my best. I get torn between what my personal gut wants me to do versus what will people buy/like from me so I can find a bit of monetary gain?

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12 Claire March 26, 2013 at 9:00 pm

I’ve struggled with this too (I’m a painter), Me and Wee. Paint for yourself. If you paint for some unknown audience, your work won’t be as good and true. Trust yourself and paint something you would love. Good luck – I completely understand the struggle!

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13 Me and Wee March 27, 2013 at 7:04 am

Thanks Claire! That’s the direction I’m taking now, these past few weeks. I just have to stay true to it even if the sales aren’t rolling in. I have to have faith that it will all come together as it should.

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14 Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom March 27, 2013 at 8:46 am

My art is writing. Where my mouth fails me, my print excels. I love to write… not only is it my art but it’s my “P – For Passion”.

“V is for Vulnernable” sounds amazing. I’ll have to investigate it further. Thanks!

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