I’m lucky to live in Ottawa, Ontario, home of Canada’s National Art Gallery.
In 1989 the newly opened Art Gallery purchased a work by abstract painter Barnett Newman titled, “Voice of Fire”.
Originally created as a commission for Expo 67, a celebration of Canada’s centennial, the painting is 18 feet long and consists of three equal-sized vertical stripes. The two outer stripes are blue, and the stripe down the middle is red.
In the spring of 1990, it was announced the painting had been purchased by the gallery for a price of $1.8 million. I was 10 years old at the time of this announcement and to this day I still remember the resulting shit storm.
The media proclaimed outrage that millions of dollars in Canadian taxpayer money had been used to purchase a painting. Worse yet, it was a painting anyone could have created. It was just three lines on a canvas! The public debate raged in newspapers and on local news shows, and the discourse soon turned to whether “Voice of Fire” could even be considered art.
(Now would be a good time to remember Demetri Martin’s adage: “When someone describes themselves as a taxpayer, they’re about to be an asshole.”)
All around me — on the radio, amongst my teachers at school, and in huddles of parents along the sidelines at soccer practice — I heard the same thing repeated time and time again:
“I could have painted that.”
The logical response to this statement was just as obvious to my ten-year-old self as it is to my current 36-year-old self:
“But you didn’t.”
Intent is worthless.
Ideas are dime a dozen.
The only thing that matters is execution.
It doesn’t matter that the concept you have for a book is great. It doesn’t matter that it would make wonderful series. It doesn’t matter that you have all sorts of spin-off concepts ready to roll out. Most people with even a modicum of creativity have just as many good ideas as you do.
You need to execute on your ideas. You need to take those wonderful ideas and make them reality.
Anyone could have conceived of and painted “Voice of Fire”, but only Barnett Newman did.
What’s your “Voice of Fire”?
Stop thinking about it and go CREATE it.
Execution is everything.
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