June 19, 2011

Linchpin by Seth Godin

I have just finished reading Linchpin by Seth Godin. If you have been following my blog you know that I follow Seth constantly. I love his inputs and analysis about marketing and markets. If you want to know, I liked this book, but you have to know exactly what is its intent or you will be deeply disappointed. 

No deep theories, no deep analysis, no deep content. This is a book that makes you think about your status quo, about your actual situation, your goals and the reason of all that surrounds you. The book works mostly as a professional push or shaken, if you will, than a "brainer" book. So, that´s it. If you are in that time of your life that you stand in front of a bifurcation and you ought to choose a direction to go or lyou want to listen to a friend´s point of view...that´s the book! If you want a deep analysis, that´s not! As artists are oftenly in that position...you should try it...

Seth argues that you should overcome the faceless cog and become a Linchpin, a professional or a person with differentials. There is no map to become a linchpin, and he doesn't attempt to create one for us. Seth only describes what are the characteristics of a Linchpin and what it is expected of her-him. 

Check the interviews and the review!

Review by Debbie S. Glade

While reading Linchpin I looked around a few times to see if author Seth Godin was perhaps peering through my living room window to see my reaction. It really felt like he was talking to me, singling me out. How could he know how I rationalize things? 

"There are no longer any great jobs where someone else tells you precisely what to do." 

Linchpin is a most unusual, well-organized, concise book about what it takes to become indispensable in the workplace - whether you work for someone else (at any level) or are self-employed. It's about how business has rapidly changed and how treating employees like factory workers (or doing your job like one) doesn't work any longer. We must make choices and take action to "chart our own paths" and add value that others do not. We cannot wait for a boss or a job description to tell us what to do, rather we must just take the initiative ourselves. Only then can we become indispensable "linchpins," rather than replaceable "cogs." There are so many fantastic quotes in the book too. 

"You don't become indispensable merely because you are different. But the only way to become indispensable is to be different. That's because if you're the same, so are plenty of other people." 

The 14 chapters in this book are each broken down into short segments with great headlines that summarize them. Godin uses special vocabulary words to describe the many factors that go into becoming a linchpin. These words have unique meanings in the context in which they are used. You'll learn interpretations for terms such as art, thrashing, gifts, resistance, pranja, ship, lizard brain, shenpa, emotional labor and others. 

"Art is unique, new and challenging to the status quo. It's not decoration. It's something that causes change. Art cannot be merely commerce. It must also be a gift." 

You'll never be bewildered or bored while reading Linchpin. It will awaken a part of your brain that you may have never used before. It will make you take a deep look inside your thoughts, patterns and habits and oblige you to realize there are things you can change right now to become more of a success, a true "artist." In fact, you may find yourself sliding down in your chair a bit while reading, like I did. But that's okay; it's part of the learning process. 

"If all you can do is the task and you're not in a league of your own at doing the task, you're not indispensable." 

This is particularly true in the chapter on page 101 entitled The Resistance. Just this chapter alone is worth the price of the book. You've got to read it twice to really capture all it offers. Here you'll be faced with all the reasons why you're currently not as indispensable as you could be - as you should be. Have you ever delayed a project and not delivered (Seth calls this shipping) on deadline just because you were trying to achieve perfection? That's resistance. It is the "lizard brain" way-of-thinking that causes us to resist. Do you find yourself doing a lot of busy work (obsessive email checking, Tweeting, etc.) rather than taking action that really adds value? That's resistance too. 

"The lizard brain is the reason you're afraid, the reason you don't ship when you can. The lizard brain is the source of the resistance." 

Godin will educate you on what it truly means to be a valuable gift giver. He'll tell you that there's no map in existence to help you become an indispensable artist. He'll tell you that you have a choice to either "Fit in or stand out. Not both." He'll even tell you that there are times when your art will not work, and for whatever reason, you may not be able to get paid for your particular talent. 

"Maybe you can't make money doing what you love (at least what you love right now) But I bet you can figure out what you can do to make money (if you choose wisely)." 

"There is no map. No map to be a leader, no map to be an artist. I've read hundreds of books about art (in all its forms) and how to do it, and not one has a clue about the map, because there isn't one." 

The only thing Seth Godin left out of his well-researched Linchpin book is that his principles can be applied not only to business but also to other aspects of a person's life. Linchpins can be better spouses, friends and community members at large. They can be truly indispensable in many ways. 

"Nothing about becoming indispensable is easy. If it's easy, it's already been done and it's no longer valuable." 

Ever read a business or marketing book that is interesting while you're reading it, but two days after you have finished it, you cannot really remember the gist of what you read? Linchpin is not one of those books. This one will stay with you. There is nothing else like it; it can change your future. That is, if you set your lizard brain aside and replace it with the true linchpin artist in you.


"It's easy to see why people pay to hear what he has to say."

"Thousands of authors write business books every year, but only a handful reach star status and the A-list lecture circuit. Fewer still-one, to be exact-can boast his own action figure. . . . Godin delivers his combination of counterintuitive thinking and a great sense of fun."

"This book is a gift."
-Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder, The Acumen Fund

"If Seth Godin didn't exist we'd need to invent him-that's how indispensable he is! You hold in your hands a compelling, accessible, and purpose-filled book. Read it, and do yourself a big favor. Your future will thank you!"
-Alan Webber, Founder, Fast Company

"This is what the future of work (and the world) looks like. Actually, it's already happening around you."
-Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos.com

"Thousands of authors write business books every year, but only a handful reach star status and the A-list lecture circuit. Fewer still - one, to be exact - can boast his own action figure....Godin delivers his combination of counterintuitive thinking and a great sense of fun."

June 18, 2011

Invention of Love (2010) - Animated Short Film by HHG Film COmpany

A love story from the world of gears and bolts.

Animated short 2010.
Inspired by Lotte Reiniger works and Antony Lucas's Jasper Morello film.

If you like video, please Donate!

Diploma project.

Written & Directed by Andrey Shushkov

Original Music and Sound: Polina Sizova, Anton Melnikov.
Violin perfomed by Anna Gudkova

Animation, Design, Compositing, Editing: Andrey Shushkov

* Reference link: http://www.youtube.com/user/hhgru

29 Ways to Stay Creative

Zero by Christopher Kezelos

In a world that judges people by their number, Zero faces constant prejudice and persecution. He walks a lonely path until a chance encounter changes his life forever: he meets a female zero. Together they prove that through determination, courage, and love, nothing can be truly something.

About the Director: Christopher Kezelos has recently relocated to Los Angeles from Sydney, Australia and is seeking new Directing opportunities and representation. To get in touch, you can contact him here:http://www.zealouscreative.com/contact/

June 15, 2011

Training - an investment in the future of a healthy arts infrastructure by The Art Management Network

An interview with Brett Egan, Director, DeVos Institute of Arts Management, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington D.C

Dirk Heinze: The Kennedy Center has just received a $22.5 million commitment from the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation for the newly named DeVos Institute of Arts Management.  lease tell our readers the story behind this pledge. Why was this commitment made particularly in the field of arts management?
Brett Egan: First, I should clarify the commitment. The first $2.5 million will
support the Institute’s operating funds over the next 5 years. The remaining
$20 million will constitute an endowment to indefinitely provide the Institute with annual support.
Betsy DeVos recently stepped down from the Board of Trustees at the Kennedy
Center, after having served for many years. Part of the conversation surrounding her voluntary departure was the exploration of a mutual interest for their Foundation to fund the Institute in a meaningful way. Several conversations between Betsy and Dick DeVos and Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser established their interest in training arts managers across the U.S., based on the idea that there are simply not enough professional development training opportunities for arts managers outside of universities and major cities
in this country. And even in those places, available training is still fractional
in respect to the amount of arts activity taking place—not only for arts managers, but for board members as well.

We and the DeVos Foundation are convinced that, especially in a moment of financial crisis, arts managers and board members need to be part of a community that shares best practices to help preserve their organizations.

As a culture, we spend a tremendous amount of money and resource educating and training artists, and comparatively little, not only in the U.S. but worldwide, to train the managers that keep our artists employed, that run our organizations and keep them healthy. I think that the DeVos Foundation, like the Kennedy Center, views arts management training as an equally important investment in the future of a healthy arts infrastructure.

We are starting programs, for instance, in Detroit, MI; in Miami, FL; and in
Upper Manhattan, NY. These are places where the national economy in the
U.S. has taken a particularly hard hit.

We have observed that in moments of financial crisis, arts managers and
their boards get scared, understandably, and in turn, start to scale back on
programming and marketing. Our message is, of course, that temporary cuts
may be necessary, but cuts alone will not get us to a place of turnaround, and
that the most important weapon in our turnaround will be to continue to
offer ambitious, exciting programming and to market that programming

If we begin to cut our programming, and the marketing that supports that programming, we will have fewer ways to excite our audience. Our audience will have less reason to buy tickets and make contributions. And this will lead to increasingly fewer resources to create and market exciting programming the next year. In this way, we try to warn against “saving yourself to death”. That is our message at this moment. And the DeVos Foundation commitment has allowed us to take that message to a different scale.

DH: What implications have the problems cultural organizations in the U.S. are facing after the financial crisis had on the various training programs you offer? How exactly is it possible to make your students and fellows fit to become cultural leaders, to design better programs?

BE: We run different types of programs for arts managers at different career
stages. This includes everything from internships and fellowships at the
Kennedy Center, to group Capacity Building seminars in multiple regions, to
tailored mentorships for more senior arts leaders. What I can say for our Capacity Building programs, which deal with five core curricular subjects—fundraising, marketing, strategic planning, artistic planning, and
board development—is that we are not in the leadership training business.

We do not offer, per se, training in leadership skills. What we do is try to
strengthen arts organizations’ ability to plan. We are trying to inculcate a
culture of planning. And we are trying to provide a safe space for that process
to take place in a community of like-minded people.

Our work operates on two tracks. First, we examine a macro strategy, or what
we might call a global strategic view: We look at the life cycle of an organization and how the major pieces of a strategy fit together.  Why exciting programming is required and how it is achieved, why aggressive marketing is required and how it is achieved, how this combination builds family around
an organization, a family whose support—both in contributions and attendance—in turn allows the organization to produce more programming of greater scale and scope, and so on. We focus on this cycle as a long-term strategic approach to organizational health.

On the second track we try to provide targeted, practical, and technical assistance in key areas. In marketing, for instance, we look at the strategic use of very specific new technologies in social media. We also examine technologies that try to gauge the effectiveness of subscription programs and facilitate
decisions on whether or not to continue investing in renewals or acquisitions. We look at how to market not only our programs, but our institution as a whole. In fundraising we might look at, for instance, how many organizations at an earlier career stages have not yet built regular, institutionalized
methods to raise money, such as creating memberships. We look with them
at how to evaluate this issue, asking questions such as: do we have the capacity to do so now, how do we start, and so on.

DH: You mentioned one of the curricular subjects of the training you provide is artistic planning. Would you describe which experiences you provide?

BE: I should clarify that this is not a discussion of artistic planning specifically dedicated to the process of artistic directors. Our focus is not what the programming should be, but what we should be thinking about while we are planning our programming and on what time frame we should be thinking.
We know the dangers of failing to plan artistic programming far enough in
advance.  We have seen that organizations which plan their seasons only six
months in advance or even, in some cases, only one month in advance, suffer
in their ability to attract artists and audiences. Of course, this varies widely
by culture throughout the world. But, most importantly, the ability to fundraise is compromised, and even in places where there is a very high level of governmental subsidy, we all know that the ability to fundraise or form strategic producing alliances can enable artistic directors to produce work of greater scope and ambition. Our basic message here is that we want arts organizations to be planning programming well in advance—three or four years in advance if they can. In some areas like opera or orchestra, this is absolutely
essential, of course, to attract A-level talent. But even for smaller organization
like dance ensembles, chamber orchestras or regional theatres, our argument is that we need and want our artistic directors thinking four or five years in advance, so that executives or board members have time to produce, to fundraise, to market, to build an audience, to educate. This is really the
focus of our work on the artistic side.

Because our programs stem from our experience at the Kennedy Center, the teaching starts from a presenting or producing standpoint. But these strategies
are not dissimilar from those evolving from a curatorial standpoint, such as
that which we might encounter in a museum or a historical society or even a
library. We always want the art—no matter whether it’s on stage, in an exhibition hall, in a garden, or on the street—to be the driver for the conversation. But the focus of the Capacity Building seminars is almost exclusively on how to better the conditions in which the executive and board members can
produce, in collaboration with the artistic director, work of increasingly larger scale and scope, work which is in line with, and that celebrates, the artistic mission of the organization.

DH: As you know, an arts manager can build a career in the private, public or nonprofit sector, as well as in so many cultural areas. How do you recognize the specific demands and career pathways for these sectors during the education?

BE: That is a very good question. We focus on not-for-profit organizations, on helping them raise money for what they need to do. While the curriculum, as I said in response to your last question, has been built from the viewpoint of a producing organization like the Kennedy Center—an organization that produces and presents dance, music, theatre, etc.,--we do interact with advocacy organizations, service organizations, historical societies, even gardens ⌧ organizations that fall outside of the traditional “presenting” model. We do feel
that the curriculum is relevant to the needs of these types of organizations.

Regardless of the artistic product, they all have to raise money utilizing similar means. They all have to lobby the community on behalf of their organization. They all have to build excitement and enthusiasm for their offerings.

And many of the technologies used by presenting organizations can be useful for non-presenting organizations. Especially when we understand that in order to incite people to give to our organizations—whether an opera or a service organization—we must first program content that is surprising and exciting, market that programming aggressively, and continue to build a family of supporters to surround that work.
For instance, at first pass, service organizations that represent communities
and produce research don't have much to offer potential donors. In fact, they
are forced to compete for funding with arts organizations who are their own
clients. So for such an organization the question is: How do we compete
when we don't have concerts, stars or fancy parties to bring people to? We
want non-producing organizations to adopt those strategies, to begin thinking like a dance or theatre company: What is it that we have, what we can use to excite our donor base? We work, for example, with arts schools that typically don't have such artistic output. But we are still asking the same
basic questions: how can we create a family of funders, of ticket buyers, of
clients, that surround our organization and that, through their financial
support, enable us to produce better research, better advocacy, and better

In this way we look at the same basic mechanisms for non-producing or nonpresenting organizations that we are looking at for traditional presenting organizations. This is not meant to be a perfect analogy, but there is enough cross-over that a zoo, a botanical garden, a museum, or even a public institution that has to raise money can take something away from the program.

B R E T  T   E G A N

In December 2009, Egan joined the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as
Director of the DeVos Institute of Arts Management. In this capacity, Egan directs
the Center's programs in arts management training and consulting, comprising of capacity building programs in eleven American cities and similar initiatives in several countries worldwide. Additional programs under Egan's
direction are the Arts in Crisis Initiative-which has served more than 800 organizations in the United States; International Fellowships, with 42 participants from 28 countries; an international cultural exchange program administered on behalf of the Department of State; the Kennedy Center Fellowship, a
nine-month program for mid-career arts executives; various independent
consultancies; and three websites, including ArtsManager.org, an online
service for arts managers and their boards. From 2006 to 2009, Egan served as
Executive Director of the New York-based modern dance company, Shen Wei
Dance Arts, a Kennedy Center resident company and principal contributor to
the 2008 Olympic Opening Ceremonies in Beijing.

S I D E   S T E P S  

* This interview was taken from the 98 edition of the Art Management Network Newsletter (July/August 2010, page 3).

June 12, 2011

Happy Valentines Day!

Today is Valentines Day in Brazil!

Gustav Klimt "Der Kuss"

Time and Again 

TIme and again, however well we know the landscape of love,
and the little church-yard with lamenting names,
and the frightfully silent ravine wherein all the others
end: time and again we go out two together,
under the old trees, lie down again and again
between the flowers, face to face with the sky.

Rainer Maria Rilke
Always for the first time 

Always for the first time
Hardly do I know you by sight
You return at some hour of the night to a house at an angle to my window
A wholly imaginary house
It is there that from one second to the next
In the inviolate darkness
I anticipate once more the fascinating rift occuring
The one and only rift
In the facade and in my heart
The closer I come to you
In reality
The more the key sings at the door of the unknown room
Where you appear alone before me
At first you coalesce entierly with the brightness
The elusive angle of a curtain
It's a field of jasmine I gazed upon at dawn on a road in the vicinity of Grasse
With the diagonal slant of its girls picking
Behind them the dark falling wing of the plants stripped bare
Before them a T-square of dazzling light
The curtain invisibly raised
In a frenzy all the flowers swarm back in
It is you at grips with that too long hour never dim enough until sleep
You as though you could be
The same except that I shall perhaps never meet you
You pretend not to know I am watching you
Marvelously I am no longer sure you know
You idleness brings tears to my eyes
A swarm of interpretations surrounds each of your gestures
It's a honeydew hunt
There are rocking chairs on a deck there are branches that may well scratch you in the forest
There are in a shop window in the rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette
Two lovely crossed legs caught in long stockings
Flaring out in the center of a great white clover
There is a silken ladder rolled out over the ivy
There is
By my leaning over the precipice
Of your presence and your absense in hopeless fusion
My finding the secret
Of loving you
Always for the first time

Andre Breton

June 11, 2011

Nicholas Forrest

Nicholas Forrest was recently asked some questions about the art market for a magazine article and here they are.  Hope you enjoy !!!
1. Last year there was a trend for portrait pieces, why do you think this is?
Although portraiture fell out of fashion, as it has done on several occasions, the fact that there is so much scholarly, academic and art historical support for the genre means that there will always be a market for portraits – a market that can only continue to get stronger each time the genre comes back into fashion. The long term value of a work of art is linked to a certain degree to the extent to which one can disassociate the work of art from the artist, and the extent to which one can assign value to the actual characteristics of the art object as an independent entity. Because portraits require a high level of technical skill to get right, and because the face is universally recognisable and has universal characteristics, the portrait is able to be more easily assessed using a more objective approach. This makes the portrait a more attractive option to art investors and collectors during times of financial crisis, such as we experienced last year, when long term safety and justifiability become important factors.
The value that can be placed on portraits because of their status as historical documents is the sort of future proof intrinsic value that will always remain with the portrait and cannot be disassociated from the portrait. Regardless of what happens to the art market or to the reputation of the artist in question, classical figurative works of art (portraits in particular) will always have significant technical, historical and documentary value. The fact that the physical characteristics of figurative portraits are so comparable across the whole genre, and so easy to rank, also means that they are also easier to value when compared to other genres.
2. Can auction houses or art market analysts predict trends in the market?
Predicting art market trends is becoming more and more difficult as fine art becomes a more globally recognised and accessible status symbol, and a more widely accepted alternative investment. As a much wider range of people from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds become active in the art market, a situation has arisen where there are so many different groups of art market participants with different agendas, that trying to foretell the buying behaviour of each group is extremely hard. To predict trends these days requires a very deep knowledge and understanding of the behaviour of art buyers as well as an extremely well developed trend sensing radar.
3. Do social, political or cultural issues affect market trends?
Social, political and cultural issues all have a profound effect on art market trends. Fine art is often used as a tool for making statements regarding social, political and cultural issues. A consequence of this is that people’s perception of such works can often be altered by their own beliefs or by important events of the day.
4. Do you think that the sale of a piece of art is just at the end of the day due to personal preference? Can buyers be strategic?
Buyers can definitely be strategic when it comes to purchasing fine art and are doing so at an ever increasing rate due to the greater level of acceptance of the benefits of approaching art as an investment. However, because everyone has a personal taste when it comes to fine art, a strategic approach is best undertaken with the guidance of an unbiased art advisor or via an art investment fund where the works that are invested in are chosen by a group of experts.
5. What may / may not determine the end sale price at an auction?
There are a myriad of different factors that can determine the final sale price of a work of art being sold at auction. A few, however, are much more influential than others. One of the most important factors to consider when buying or selling a work of art at auction is how many people are likely to be competing for that particular work of art. All it takes is two determined bidders for the auction estimate to fly out the window and the final price to skyrocket beyond all expectations. The energy of an auction sale can become all consuming and cause even the most timid of individuals to become super competitive. Another important factor that can affect the final sale price is the estimate given to a work of art. An estimate that is too high can discourage people from bidding for a work and an estimate that is too low can cause people to become suspicious about that work of art.
6. Do you think the artist’s name behind the art itself has a large factor into how much a piece would sell for? Can this limit the art in any way?
The commercialisation of the contemporary art market has evoked a scenario where artists are often looked upon as celebrities and performers who are expected to act in a certain way. Art buyers who view art as a status symbol will often view the artist’s social reputation and level of fame as being crucial factors when it comes to deciding whether or not to purchase a work or art. A result of this is that artists often have to conform to the desires of rich art buyers, and produce works that they will like, which can severely limit the work that the artists can produce.
7. What is the significance of branding and the correct marketing for pieces of art?
In theory, a work of art should really sell itself. However, the reality of the situation is that the conceptual nature of a large amount of the contemporary art being produced, combined with the increasing commercialisation of the contemporary art world, has created a situation where artists need to be marketed correctly in order for their work to be properly appreciated and stand out from the rest of the crowd. Without correct branding and marketing, an artist is likely to find it difficult to sell their work and differentiate themselves from the already saturated contemporary art market.

8. The Mugrabi family are said to own a monopoly on the Warhol catalogue. Do you feel that a collector can be excessive? Can a person own too much art?
The problem with collectors who monopolise the market for a particular artist is that those collectors can then manipulate the rate of supply and demand and consequently manipulate the price of that artist’s work. This sort of situation can have a seriously negative impact on people’s perception of an artist’s work and, as such, I would never such behaviour by collectors.

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.

Getting funded is not the same as succeeding by Seth Godin

The goal isn't to get money from a VC, just as the goal isn't to get into Harvard. Those are stepping stones, filters that some successful people have made their way through.
If you alter your plans and your approach and your vision in order to grab that imprimatur, understand that it might get in the way of the real point of the exercise, which is to build an organization that makes a difference.
I don't care so much how much money you raised, or who you raised it from. I care a lot about who your customers are and why (or if) they're happy.
Groupthink is almost always a sign of trouble, and it's particularly dangerous when it revolves around what gets funded, and why.
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