Art is What We Call . . .

Spotted Lily, Olbrich Gardens, Madison Wisconsin

Spotted Lily ©2011 Bo Mackison

“Art is what we call…the thing an artist does.

It’s not the medium or the oil or the price or whether it hangs on a wall or you eat it.

What matters, what makes it art,
is that the person who made it overcame the resistance,
ignored the voice of doubt and made something worth making.

Something risky. Something human.”

~ Seth Godin

I read Seth Godin’s words this weekend, and thought, “Oh yes, spot on.” This weekend I’ve been working non-stop on a photography project – a project that means a great deal to me on a personal level. It is my hope that the portfolio I’m assembling will also speak to other people. But what really matters, has already taken place. My photographs speak to me, make meaning, explain life.

What other people think is interesting, and I am always curious to hear what people truly think about a photograph I take and process. But another person’s opinion won’t change my thoughts. I’ve taken the photo, chosen it, looked at it carefully, even listened to it, and  – this is the biggest discovery – I’ve heard the photo speak to me with love.

It took time, and some learning, but finally, I’ve discovered my opinion about my photograph is the most important opinion. Not to say I don’t want to know what others think. I do, but with a caveat.

As Seth Godin so astutely said, in the last line of the above quote:

“Art is not in the . . . eye of the beholder.  It’s in the soul of the artist.”


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC.  She is currently assembling two portfolios for portfolio reviews — 5 reviewers, 5 reviews, 20 minutes each — for when she attends the Filter Photo Festival in Chicago in October. She is terribly excited about the coming experience!

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. That’s a brilliant summary of the artistic process – and why it matters. It’s wonderful to see you stretching and growing into this.

  2. Oh…I absolutely this post!! Seth Godin is genius..and you’re right there with him – quoting and writing about his inspiring words. I’m right there with you..and can’t wait to see this new portfolio of work that YOU are putting together!!!

  3. Joanne Keevers says:

    Seth Godin is a wise man! If you didn’t feel your art, if you didn’t hear it speak to you, then neither would anyone else! It has to begin with you. And it does! 🙂

  4. First: Lovely photo. I like the sharp orange against the blurred pink.
    Second: Interesting quote. How does one know if what I’ve made is worth making?

  5. Wonderful photo, Bo!

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