Remembering It’s The Work Itself That Matters
Ok, I know this isn’t a digital media topic, but what happened on Friday at Sotheby’s London is too good of a story to pass up. You may be familiar with the anonymous British street artist named Banksy, who’s known for putting up mind-bending guerilla art installations in the least expected places imaginable. Just when you think you’ve seen everything from this guy he manages to top himself, and teach us something about ourselves along the way.
At Friday’s Sotheby’s auction, Banksy’s Girl With Balloon painting was sold for $1.4M USD. But just as auctioneer’s gavel fell to finalize the sale, the painting’s frame began to ominously beep for a few seconds, followed by the painting itself descending into a shredder that was secretly installed in the bottom of the frame. (No, I’m not making this up.) Onlookers at the auction were in disbelief at the sight of a million dollar painting being shredded before their eyes. To make this story even crazier, Banksy then posted a video on Instagram showing how he secretly installed shredder blades in the picture frame to tear up the art if it was ever auctioned off. I guess mission accomplished on that one!
So what’s the lesson in all of this? For me it’s that no matter how successful you become don’t lose sight of the reason you do what you do in the first place. For Banksy the meaning of his art is the statement his pieces make, not the prices they sell for. He proved that beyond a doubt by destroying a painting that had just sold for more than a million dollars. What if we all put this lesson into our own work – by just focusing on being the best we can in our chosen fields without worrying about how successful we’ll become as a result. If we all act this way I think we’d bring much more freedom of expression, creativity and purpose to our work. Thanks for the inspiration, Banksy!