Value: The Difference Between a Priceless Work of Art and a $20 Painting

Clip, 5:34 to 7:39

Above is a clip from a talk by Seth Godin at 99U, talking about what it really means to make art.

It’s easy to think of art as something that’s pretty. But it’s not. It’s something that’s risky. It’s something that’s new.

The Mona Lisa is a priceless work of art. In a factory in China, a long bench of employees are painting thousands of Mona Lisas, which you can own for $20. The difference is that the first one was a new and unique thing, birthed into the world. It might not have “worked”, i.e. it could have been treated just the same way as the thousands of other portraits of aristocrats out there. The copies will definitely work. They will sell, but only for $20 a piece.

Businesses as Art

It’s hard to ever create a carbon copy of another business. The closest thing would presumably be a franchise.

The market is brutal and will crush a lazy business. In a free market, the way to get disproportionate results is to identify a group that is being underserved and serve them.

Bonus points if they are a relatively new demographic that is only going to grow in the coming decades.

That’s Seth Godin’s main thesis.


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