Seth, Icarus and Travel by Dart

Polar Bear Sketch copyright Christine Montague 2013 In his latest book, The Icarus Deception, marketing guru Seth Godin shares his ideas on how art has evolved, who is an artist, and the importance of the “connection economy” to both.

Seth writes “Art isn’t a result; it’s a journey. The challenge of our time is to find a journey worthy of your heart and your soul…there’s an abundance of things to buy and people to hire…What’s scarce is trust, connection, and surprise. These are three elements in the work of the work of a successful artist…”

He goes on to say “The internet network connects people to one another, people to organizations and best of all, people to ideas... Welcome to the connection economy…anyone with a laptop is now connected to just about everyone else.’s the bridges between people that generate value”

Here’s how two good friends, Matt Cook and Sorin Mihailovici, decided to have an adventure, but created much more. Their vision of travel became a story that surprised and connected us to their ideas. It fanned our trust so that we shared the story and supported its occurrence.  Matt and Sorin did the dreaming, the planning and the travelling, but the connection economy was key to their success.

Matt and Sorin are the Edmonton, Alberta, Canada guys who, in 2011, threw caution to the wind and a dart at the map to choose a destination for an adventure of a lifetime.  Dart thrown, they only had a month to sort out logistics and raise a heck of a lot of money for their trip to… (wait for it)…Svalbard, Norway.

Svalbard. Closest town to the North Pole. 24 hours of darkness. 2000 people.  3000 polar bears.

Now most of us, if we dared to throw the dart, would celebrate that it landed on Svalbard oops, slipsies count, Hawaii, and head straight on down to the closest convenience store to buy us a lottery ticket.

But Sorin and Matt? Not these guys. They got their “grit”, as Seth calls it, going. They made the decision to fundraise for the polar bear, as well as themselves.  Polar was on its way.  Through their website, social and traditional media they shared the Polar Faith story.

And the story delighted us. We trusted, and connected to them because their story was fun, and they sounded like fun, too.  They could be the guys next door. The story was new, told with passion, humour and some urgency. They didn’t have a lot of time, these guys, to make it on their way. Let's help.

We helped by further growing the connections. The story spread across Canada in the media and online.

I think we wanted Polar Faith  to work, and so I hope backing was as successful as it seems. It was certainly convenient and trustworthy (paypal).  As well, Matt and Sorin, returned the favor.  From hand warmers to personalized videos, thank-you items scaled to financial contribution.

Matt and Sorin personally answered their emails. There was value in this. Everyone was giving and getting something for their part in the project. Connections and trust? Established.

By the way, this is where my personal involvement came in. I had just competed my large oil painting “Polar Bear Swimming in the Northern Lights” here and I planned for more paintings in the series. So why not give to a project that both captured my imagination and  helped polar bears?

In return for my modest financial contribution to their trip, I received back more than my money’s worth. Shortly before New Years Eve 2011, a photo arrived in my email. Taken  New Year’s Eve, Norway time, the bundled up duo stand in the dark under a North Pole sign. Thumbs up, they are holding a home-made sign with my url My family roars with laughter (the wonder of the internet), I share it online in a blog click here and in Happy New Year Greetings emails to family, friends and clients. An 8 x 10 printout hung in my open artist studio at the Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre until I left the end of 2012,  and another one hung for months in the only public washroom there (whatever works). (Note: This photo, along with a nice shout out - is on the front page of their new website. Scroll down once you click Thanks Guys!)

Matt and Sorin documented  their very excellent adventure. The short  film "Polar Faith"  premiered March 3rd, 2013 at the Global Visions Films Festival, Edmonton, Alberta.

They have created a pilot for a television series “Travel by Dart”.

By Seth Godin’s definition of art, Matt and Sorin seized new ground and made connections between people and ideas.  They may have started with a map, but continued without one. According to Seth ”these are works of art, and if you do them, you are an artist, regardless of whether you wear a smock..”

The journey’s the art, along with entrepreneurship, customer service, invention, connection, technology, leadership, and all those other thing Seth talks about in the evolution of fine art. The internet and “connection economy” allowed Matt and Sorin to share their invention “Polar Faith”, and fund their project.  Previously, the final product, the film, was the “art”, and the journey, the prep work. In this new model,  the journey, and the connections made are the art, and the movie and the TV show, the very fine byproduct.

Cram the Polar Bear World: The Sketchbook Project 2013

Copyright Christine Montague. "In the Presence of Royalty". The Sketchbook Project 2013". Grpahite. The little envelope containing my sketchbook from The Sketchbook Project, somehow was mislaid during my studio move, and completely out of mind with the excitement of family home for Christmas. My memory was suddenly jogged when The Sketchbook Project people wisely sent out a "deadline tomorrow" email yesterday.

There was no way I was going to miss out on this  terrific drawing project where artists from around the world have their sketchbooks (provided by the project) on display in the Brooklyn Art Library (U.S.A.), as well as online, and in a travelling art show.

So, what to do?! With less than 24 hours to fill a sketchbook, I would do the student "thing" and CRAM which, by the way,  became the sketchbook title, and maybe more than that , too.

And what did I draw? Why I followed The Sketchbook Project recommendations:

" The Sketchbook project is a space for new work and experiment - it's not intended to be a portfolio" and  " ...follow your book wherever it takes you and change your mind along the way".

And that's exactly what I did, I veered off the course of the few sketches I had done before Christmas and my move out of my Williams Mill studio, and spent well into the night immersed into my polar bear fantasy world.  You know how it is when you have a good book you can't put down? That's how I felt last night as I worked deep into the night with ease.

To read more about The Sketchbook Project 2013, and to mark it on your calendar to take part in,  visit

Also I'd love to know what you think of my foray into fantasy illustration, and if you'd enjoy more posts on this.