Seth Godin on Beauty Is Money

by Barbara Martin

in Motivation & Inspiration

Seth Godin is talking about beauty today, and ultimately seems to equate it with expensive. I’m not so sure about that. In nature, as he notes, there are reasons for improved symmetry or colorful plumage and resulting preference. But when he gets to talking about architecture, as in an expansive atrium is beautiful because it is expensive, well I have to say no. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To someone with a “green” worldview, that atrium might be a hideously wasteful, energy sucking, useless space. To someone with an architecture or design background, that atrium might be a hideous mishmash of materials and lousy proportions and lack practical application in the overall scheme of the building. To a sun-starved northern-lattitude dweller in the gray winter season, that atrium might be a hideous reminder of the absent sunshine! Could an atrium be beautiful, sure. Always? No way.

So I’m picking on his example. But what makes a certain thing beautiful? Is it just a matter of taste? (Just because you can, doesn’t necessarily mean you should!)

Take my earlier post on what your taste in art says about you — and take a look at the many divergent artistic styles represented in the test. They were all deemed worthwhile or maybe even beautiful by someone at one time or another and have endured over time considered as such. Even if we don’t all agree all the time.

So then what is the point of calling a rainbow beautiful? It’s not sexy, it’s not going to do anything for you besides give you a pretty thing to look at. And, it’s free.

Do you or would you create a beautiful thing just for the money? Does money corrupt the ideal? Does it matter? Can it be both? Where do you draw the line of let’s call it pure art vs. getting paid for what you do? Every artist and every creative type has to make this choice at one time or another. It’s good to know ahead of time where you draw that line.

Granted, sometimes a beautiful thing is deemed worthy of a high price, but certainly not always. And does money guarantee good taste? (You know it doesn’t!) Or beauty? (I don’t think so.) Is beauty always worth paying for? Does it always command the higher price? Is Seth Godin barking at the wrong (money) tree?

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