In his latest book, The Icarus Deception, marketing guru Seth Godin shares his ideas on how art has evolved, who is an artist, and the importance of the “connection economy” to both.
Seth writes “Art isn’t a result; it’s a journey. The challenge of our time is to find a journey worthy of your heart and your soul…there’s an abundance of things to buy and people to hire…What’s scarce is trust, connection, and surprise. These are three elements in the work of the work of a successful artist…”
He goes on to say “The internet network connects people to one another, people to organizations and best of all, people to ideas… Welcome to the connection economy…anyone with a laptop is now connected to just about everyone else. ..it’s the bridges between people that generate value”
Here’s how two good friends, Matt Cook and Sorin Mihailovici, decided to have an adventure, but created much more. Their vision of travel became a story that surprised and connected us to their ideas. It fanned our trust so that we shared the story and supported its occurrence. Matt and Sorin did the dreaming, the planning and the travelling, but the connection economy was key to their success.
Matt and Sorin are the Edmonton, Alberta, Canada guys who, in 2011, threw caution to the wind and a dart at the map to choose a destination for an adventure of a lifetime. Dart thrown, they only had a month to sort out logistics and raise a heck of a lot of money for their trip to… (wait for it)…Svalbard, Norway.
Svalbard. Closest town to the North Pole. 24 hours of darkness. 2000 people. 3000 polar bears.
Now most of us, if we dared to throw the dart, would celebrate that it landed on Svalbard oops, slipsies count, Hawaii, and head straight on down to the closest convenience store to buy us a lottery ticket.
But Sorin and Matt? Not these guys. They got their “grit”, as Seth calls it, going. They made the decision to fundraise for the polar bear, as well as themselves. Polar Faith.com was on its way. Through their website, social and traditional media they shared the Polar Faith story.
And the story delighted us. We trusted, and connected to them because their story was fun, and they sounded like fun, too. They could be the guys next door. The story was new, told with passion, humour and some urgency. They didn’t have a lot of time, these guys, to make it on their way. Let’s help.
We helped by further growing the connections. The story spread across Canada in the media and online.
I think we wanted Polar Faith to work, and so I hope backing was as successful as it seems. It was certainly convenient and trustworthy (paypal). As well, Matt and Sorin, returned the favor. From hand warmers to personalized videos, thank-you items scaled to financial contribution.
Matt and Sorin personally answered their emails. There was value in this. Everyone was giving and getting something for their part in the project. Connections and trust? Established.
By the way, this is where my personal involvement came in. I had just competed my large oil painting “Polar Bear Swimming in the Northern Lights” here and I planned for more paintings in the series. So why not give to a project that both captured my imagination and helped polar bears?
In return for my modest financial contribution to their trip, I received back more than my money’s worth. Shortly before New Years Eve 2011, a photo arrived in my email. Taken New Year’s Eve, Norway time, the bundled up duo stand in the dark under a North Pole sign. Thumbs up, they are holding a home-made sign with my url www.christinemontague.com My family roars with laughter (the wonder of the internet), I share it online in a blog click here and in Happy New Year Greetings emails to family, friends and clients. An 8 x 10 printout hung in my open artist studio at the Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre until I left the end of 2012, and another one hung for months in the only public washroom there (whatever works). (Note: This photo, along with a nice shout out – is on the front page of their new website. Scroll down once you click www.travelbydart.com Thanks Guys!)
Matt and Sorin documented their very excellent adventure. The short film “Polar Faith” premiered March 3rd, 2013 at the Global Visions Films Festival, Edmonton, Alberta.
They have created a pilot for a television series “Travel by Dart”.
By Seth Godin’s definition of art, Matt and Sorin seized new ground and made connections between people and ideas. They may have started with a map, but continued without one. According to Seth ”these are works of art, and if you do them, you are an artist, regardless of whether you wear a smock..”
The journey’s the art, along with entrepreneurship, customer service, invention, connection, technology, leadership, and all those other thing Seth talks about in the evolution of fine art. The internet and “connection economy” allowed Matt and Sorin to share their invention “Polar Faith”, and fund their project. Previously, the final product, the film, was the “art”, and the journey, the prep work. In this new model, the journey, and the connections made are the art, and the movie and the TV show, the very fine byproduct.