Redefining Art


How’s this for a definition: art is anything you create with skill that is of aesthetic value to someone else.

The keywords there are “skill” and “value.” Wherever skill and aesthetic  value come together, there in the midst of them is art.

Skill, very simply, is the ability to do something well. If you’re very skilled, that means you do it exceptionally well. And that, mostly, can be learned. (Skills are transferable.)

Aesthetic value is enjoyment. The person benefiting from the art doesn’t need it to survive (that would be survival value), but yet enjoys it deeply. Of course, if they value it enough, they’re willing to pay for it. (Value is monetisable.)

What of talent, the inborn flair for a particular skill? Well, talent is overrated. Not that it doesn’t matter (it does, a lot), but the greatest talent in any area is worth a pile of rat dung if it is not honed into some definite skill. And even then, all the talent in the world can not (repeat, not) override the importance of practice.

So, yes, art includes the usual suspects. A Van Gogh or Picasso painting. An exquisite opera, or some fantastic cuisine by a promising chef. A haunting song that reaches to the depth of the soul.

But you can find also art can in a brilliantly executed football goal. In a simple but special meal put together by a mother with meagre resources and an overflow of love. In the way an employee assuages an angry customer. Even in this very post.

You can create art right now, right where you are: on your job, in your home, within your community. Every single day. But most people don’t.

Because the truth is, you don’t have to create art. But if you’re intent on living meaningfully, you have little option.

So don’t just sit there. Go create some art.

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