How I Decided To Be an Artist

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You could define artistry as “conveying information in creative ways”. Bad artistry does this without evoking much emotion, while great artistry shortcuts its way into our minds by provoking powerful emotional responses in us. It’s no coincidence that deviant art has always scared people in power. To this day we still have countries in the world where “dangerous” types of music and other artistic expressions are outlawed. The most powerful leaders in history, both political and in business, have also understood and utilized the power of great artistry to reach their goals. For better or for worse, they have all been great artists.

If I break down my own work into basic pieces, it consists of collecting information from many walks of life (with technology being a particular favorite walk), connecting this information into patterns (aka ideas) and conveying these patterns in artistic ways that include speaking from the stage, writing thought provocing texts and delivering different kinds of live presentations; all in an effort to inspire people to take action (and, on a good day, pay me money out of gratitude).

When looking at these three C’s of collect, connect, convey; I realize that many people have access to precisely the same information I do. Much more so today than, say, 50 years ago. Fewer, but still a decent number of people probably see the same patterns and make the same connections I do. Perhaps then, the key differentiating factor whenever I’ve fared well in my ventures, has been in the artistry of presenting these ideas so that they have triggered the strongest emotional response?

While this might sound like a depressing concept, that “it’s not about the product but about the salesman”, I think that it’s really not. An idea is only useful when realized, and that takes inspiration and energy. If I can conjure that out of thin air, it’s nothing short of magic.

And if this is the case, then I’m not an ad guy, a technology nerd or even an entrepreneur first. I’m an artist. On a stage. In the spotlight. Getting business leaders and marketing managers to get out of their chairs and hit the dance floor.

I’m an artist. There. I said it.

3 Responses to "How I Decided To Be an Artist"
  1. Kaj says:

    Good post Walter, always an interesting question of what an artist is. Some chefs call themselves artists too, but most often they are called artists by others.
    I maintain that ad men are craftsmen (they might be artists in their spare time), as they set out to please the audience from start – whilst artists “express themselves”. Thoughts on that?

    // k

  2. Thanks Kaj,

    The word “artist” in the English language includes both people creating art (konstnär in Swedish) and performing artists (artist in Swedish). I like the English word much better since I think both these words are essentially the same and only differ in weapon of choice. In defining myself as an artist, I do so defining the word artistry as “conveying information by evoking emotion”. I agree that a good artist expresses his own feelings (feelings are effective when evoking emotion in others), but often, or even always, conveys information from other sources along with it. Which, in my mind, is precisely the job of the advertising creative. This mini series is an interesting angle on the topic, and I think we do something very similar to that for our clients every day.

  3. Magnus Lindkvist says:

    “After all, a dictator is simply an artist who is able to fully put into practice his egotism. It is a mere question of aesthetic level, whether he turns out to be Baudelaire or Bolintineanu, Louis XVI or Nicolae Ceausescu” – Andrei Ujica, during the summary trial that he and his wife were submitted to

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About the Blog

This blog is written by Walter Naeslund and has been around since 2007. The blog is about the journey of starting an advertising agency and a sneak peek behind the scenes of what goes on at the Honesty HQ in SoFo, Södermalm. It is also a blog about communication & technology. The blog has gathered almost a thousand posts over the years with several longer and shorter breaks. Welcome and enjoy.
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