Some while ago, I received an e-mail from Guy Kawasaki, of Alltop.com, asking if I would like to review his latest book, "Enchantment", prior to its launch on March 8th, 2011. I agreed to do so, because, as an artist, I was interested to see what I might learn from the book, given that its subtitle is "The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions".
As I read through this relatively slender and very accessible book, replete with lists of suggested actions and real life stories to illustrate Guy's points, I had to chuckle. At one point in the book, in the chapter on "How to launch", Guy discusses the virtues of planting "many seeds". Given that the Internet has changed the traditional approaches to marketing upside down, he advises that one should "embrace the nobodies", because "anyone who understands and embraces your cause and wants to spread the word is worthy of your attention". He was carrying out his own modus operandi exactly when he asked me to review the book!
Nonetheless, I think this book, "Enchantment" can teach - or remind - every artist about a number of important aspects of his/her profession. As in many other ventures, art is ultimately about a conversation, a mutual acceptance and understanding, a shared passion about work that an artist creates in some medium. The more that artist can reach out to find a receptive, appreciative audience, the more successful he or she can be, not only in financial terms but in personal fulfilment. Accepting others, meeting people and maintaining frequent personal contact are pathways Guy advocates in this book. Achieving trustworthiness through what is known as noblesse oblige or a "Mensch" in the full Yiddish sense of the word, along with honesty, integrity and generosity, is another of the chapters in "Enchantment": vital conduct for a successful artist.
There are some examples of how to connect with one's potential audience/public which illustrate how memorably to explain why one creates a piece of art, and how it can connect with the viewer. Let's face it - most people love learning the "back story" about any piece of art and the artist's reasons for making it. Early in the book, Guy quotes Vincent van Gogh saying "You have first to experience what you want to express." If you can communicate your passion and knowledge about your artwork, people are far more receptive to it because they have embraced, to a degree, that creative act.
Guy also makes a wonderful case for how to get a potential collector first to acquire a small piece of art, which often leads to later sales of bigger work. As he later says, "Enchanters don't sell products, services or companies. Enchanters sell their dreams for a better future - cooler social interactions, a cleaner environment, a heart-stirring driving experience, or the future of publishing." Art is quintessentially about selling dreams. Guy elaborates cogently on how to sell those dreams.
The last major portion of "Enchantment" is a very useful commentary on the merits of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the Web in general in terms of using this technology to achieve successful enchantment. Any artist would find useful comments in this section. Guy's Facebook page for the book carries out his own advice. Indeed, he is offering his previous book for free with "Enchantment" until midnight tonight as another "enchanting" action.
Guy Kawasaki enthusiastically makes a case for walking a path to success - professionally and personally - that is honourable, proactive, imaginative but above all that contributes to making our world a better place. He even provides interest and delight - indeed enchantment - when he creates an origami butterfly to put on the book's cover.