“art for the real world”


["Portfolio Number One", hanging in a collector's office in Germany.]

I’ve been playing around with this line  a lot recently: “Art For The Real World”.

I’m interested in how art affects what some people call “The Real World”- the workplace, the world of work, the world of business. That’s what the Cube Grenade idea is all about.

My advertising buddy, Vinny Warren, grew up in a Roman Catholic household in Ireland. He was telling me that his parents would always have a few religious icons hanging on the wall somewhere. Pictures of Saints, Mary & Baby Jesus, that kind of thing.

Why? Says Vinny, “To remind us who we were.”

Art that reminds you who you are. Exactly. What applies in Catholic households also applies in places of business. Shared Meaning. Exactly. Social Objects. Exactly.

I don’t think any of this is rocket science…

[Update:] John leaves a good comment below:

I think surroun­ding our­sel­ves with icons, art, books and such to remind our­sel­ves of who we are, where we have been and where we hope to go is essen­tial to kee­ping our hearts alive. It is too easy to lose our way. My office is full of these things.

[Backs­tory: About Hugh. E-mail Hugh. Work with Hugh. Twit­ter. Cartoon Archive. News­let­ter. Book. Inter­view One. Inter­view Two. EVIL PLANS. Limi­ted Edi­tion Prints. Essen­tial Rea­ding:Everything You Always Wan­ted To Know About ‘Cube Gre­na­des’ But Were Afraid To Ask.”]


  1. I think surrounding ourselves with icons, art, books and such to remind ourselves of who we are, where we have been and where we hope to go is essential to keeping our hearts alive. It is too easy to lose our way. My office is full of these things. Good thoughts!

  2. I wonder what it says about a person who doesn’t have any art around to remind themselves who they are? I know people who have no art, no music, no books they call their own. One woman even told me she didn’t like music.

    I love to buy art. I love to create art. I have a pretty decent collection on my walls.

    I’ve taken it upon myself to “rescue” art too. Some of it I found propped up against dumpsters, or at tag sales. Not massed produced stuff from Home Depot–but stuff with the artist’s biz card on back. Sometimes I can find the artist on the web. I want to know a bit about the person who put some of themselves on paper or canvas.

    Sometimes I think as an artist that if I ever sell anything I’d want to know something about the person who wants my work. It’s an interesting form of communication–to give and receive art.

  3. thanks for the mention hugh! agree with john. to keep the heart alive. brilliant.

    • Hugh & Vinny, I thought about this post writing a blog the other day: http://consbio.org/cbi-blog/keeping-a-sense-of-wonder. While they help, I find I have to do things, like stare at the moon with my son, to remind me of why I am on this journey. I was surprised at how much “experiencing” something brought me back to center. I sat down at my desk the next day and my work “icons” and art seemed to have regained their power over my heart like charging glow in the dark stars.

      P.S. thanks for the update. It was a kind surprise.

  4. Which is definitely pretty essential for what I’m appear at now, thanks a bunch.

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Hugh MacLeod is a genius.  Genius.

Seth Godin
Best Selling Author

His work acknowledges the absurdity of workaday life, while also encouraging employees to respond with passion, creativity, and non-conformity...   MacLeod’s work is undeniably an improvement over the office schlock of yore. At its best, it’s more honest, and more cognizant of the entrepreneurial psyche, while still retaining some idealism.

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Last year my State of the College address was 76 slides loaded with data. This year it was 14 cartoons that were substantially more memorable.

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Tony Hsieh
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In moments of indecision I glance at the wall [to Hugh's work] for guidance.

Brian Clark
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