I have been saying that a lot to folks lately. It is time for my own.
Excellence: the quality of being outstanding or extremely good
This past weekend Jenn and I traveled to Asbury Park New Jersey. The Jersey shore was felt but not truly experienced which makes for great, yet pleasant, people watching. My quick note on Asbury Park, they are doing boutiques right. What separates a boutique from a small shop is awareness of audience. You can carry highly curated and high margin goods but you have to be aware of your niche market. The beauty of Asbury is the easy vacation destination of a monied population with Brooklyn style, and the shop owners know it!
Beach trips are about reading in the sun whilst smelling tanning lotion and absorbing the beyond time notion of the ocean. You have to work to not be contemplative. I was prepared to spend my time exploring the images of Christ through History and the initial espousers of existential philosophy. Instead I got worked out by crossfit. No, I did not do WOD after WOD but rather discovered Ben Bergeron’s (he is the smiley man atop this post) book Chasing Excellence. (Thanks to Jamie Gasiorowski co-flaneurer, and my Beatrice of Crossfit)
The book was meh on writing, but the content was on point. It left me questioning myself and my processes. Of course I wish I was in the running for fittest human on the planet; but my age, and likely my genetics, will hinder that pursuit. I found myself exploring excellence in my work.
What does it mean to be an excellent agent?
As I am reading a coach talk about making excellent athletes, I realize my role as an agent is to make excellent artists. To be an excellent agent is to excel at making excellent artists.
So what makes an artists excellent?
That is a big question!
There is a lot of debate about what art is, so to define what makes an excellent artist is yet another level. As an agent, my definition of art and therefore an artist is what I hang my shingle on, and what will seperate me from others in the field.
In my mind (and as of today) to be an excellent artists is several fold:
Mastery of a medium
Unending supply of ideas
Ability to communicate in words
There is likely universal acceptance that mastery of a medium is part of the definition of an excellent artist. For even the non-art-scholar their is respect and appreciation for the ability to do things with a medium that others cannot. The technical prowess and the craftsmanship of an artist is likely what first separates them from the mere mortals of communication. An artist can make a canvas say things that other people are unable to make the blank page say. The ability to manipulate a medium is also important because it allows ideas to be put into action.
But where do the ideas come from?
When we speak of creativity, we are talking about the appearance of ideas out of seemingly nowhere. Observations, connections and unexpected mash ups are the essence that puts art beyond the category of craftsmanship. An excellent artist can readily chat you up on concrete scientific knowledge or delve into the current political state of society or certainly explore the cultural phenomenon dejur. Artists are not only aware but have given thought to the world.
There are geniuses out there who have mastery of a medium and a never ending supply of ideas that can whip reality into alignment by the mere act of bringing something into existence that did not exist before. However genius is hard to come by, just as the perfectly proportioned body for ultra fitness is elusive to the majority. What most artist also require to be excellent is an ability to communicate through words. Yes, they must master a second medium. An artist certainly does not have to, nor should they, define the meaning of their work, but they must be able to provide the context of the matter for it to transcend from object to subject. An excellent artist must be articulate either in spoken word, or written, to enable ALL audiences to find meaning in their work.
Now, if only I had a concept for a gym to equip an artist to work on the traits of excellence.