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Sésame

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For this edition of Sésame, we are excited to start 2018 by opening the door and taking you behind the scenes of New York artist, Mike Filan.

Why Mike? Over the last 9 years, Mike has melded his passion as an artist with that of coaching at The TAI Group in New York, working with executives from companies like Boston Consulting Group and IBM. Being personally fascinated by the intersection between the world of art and business, I was intrigued to learn from Mike how he uses the insights gained from being an artist to support the development of leaders, teams, and the culture of Fortune 1000 companies.

Podcast at https://soundcloud.com/user-743694317/sesame-mike-filan

Published in: Business
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Sésame

  1. 1. Michael, I love the new studio, so many windows, so much natural light. When you look upon the street, can you describe your external reality— how you see the world? When I look out upon the world, I find myself looking at people, at things, questioning whether they fit together, whether they create a satisfying visual context— I’m seeking to discover something beautiful, that others may not see. I love looking at what colors do next to each other, how sometimes they are discoordinated, fight with each other, yet end up living with each other. As a New Yorker, I am also fascinated by how the world around us is unstructured; so many different people fromall over the world squashed into one small area, all having different places and things to do. Over the last 9 years Michael, you have been a coach with The TAI Group in New York, working with executives from Boston Consulting Group, IBM, and Cognizant Technology Solutions. How have found the insights you’ve learned from being an artist helped you and your clients in this capacity? In many ways, consulting clients are a lot like approaching a blank canvas. I approach the client openly, free of judgment, excited to enter the new journey of exploration together. I love the work. Through the approach used and created by The TAI Group, each session is a journey in which the client has the opportunity to connect with themselves. We ask them to breathe, slowdown, be present, pay attention, all the rituals I do before I paint— I slow down, quieten my mind, and everything that needs to be expressed, is just as it is meant to be.
  2. 2. Then, as approaching a blank canvas, I look for the point of entry when starting to work with a client. Questions are asked, conversation happens and that’s what enables the person to show themselves in a way that allows for authentic communication to follow. Much like the the creation of art— an artist’s authentic communication, bringing the inside out. Many of my clients express appreciation of having a person from the arts listen to and explore their work, finding a different lens on external reality helps them see fresh possibilities and avenues of working. What great lesson or lessons have you learnt so far in life from creating art? In many ways I’ve learned the premise behind Sésame, the way of moving through life— if I can come into my studio and change the canvas, with that same freedom I can create change in the rest of my life. This has required me to understand how I function in the rest of the world. I am not a goal setter, rather I have to hold on to concepts and ideas, taking time to grow into them. This requires an ability to pay attention and listen to the niggling voices that tell me what I should be doing, rather than squashing them down. The artist has a way of listening to the part of them that understands what they need to do. As an artist, I cannot breathe unless I do this. How does painting bring your unique talents to life? In what way does it give you personal fulfilment or a sense of purpose? Painting brings me back to the ability of having a quiet inner conversation with myself, I have total autonomy in the midst of chaos, but not bad chaos. There’s rebelliousness, out comes an activist, but don’t stay too long, come and enjoy, but it’s all mine. It’s not anxious, it’s pure play from an adult point of view— not an Photographs  courtesy  of  Chrissy  Eastwood
  3. 3. Then, as approaching a blank canvas, I look for the point of entry when starting to work with a client. Questions are asked, conversation happens and that’s what enables the person to show themselves in a way that allows for authentic communication to follow. Much like the the creation of art— an artist’s authentic communication, bringing the inside out. Many of my clients express appreciation of having a person from the arts listen to and explore their work, finding a different lens on external reality helps them see fresh possibilities and avenues of working. What great lesson or lessons have you learnt so far in life from creating art? In many ways I’ve learned the premise behind Sésame, the way of moving through life— if I can come into my studio and change the canvas, with that same freedom I can create change in the rest of my life. This has required me to understand how I function in the rest of the world. I am not a goal setter, rather I have to hold on to concepts and ideas, taking time to grow into them. This requires an ability to pay attention and listen to the niggling voices that tell me what I should be doing, rather than squashing them down. The artist has a way of listening to the part of them that understands what they need to do. As an artist, I cannot breathe unless I do this. How does painting bring your unique talents to life? In what way does it give you personal fulfilment or a sense of purpose? Painting brings me back to the ability of having a quiet inner conversation with myself, I have total autonomy in the midst of chaos, but not bad chaos. There’s rebelliousness, out comes an activist, but don’t stay too long, come and enjoy, but it’s all mine. It’s not anxious, it’s pure play from an adult point of view— not an Photographs  courtesy  of  Chrissy  Eastwood
  4. 4. Q&AThe artist has a way of listening to the part of them that understands what they need to do. elephant swinging its trunk, creating a painting. Done from knowledge, from a place of vulnerability. It’s not wholly and totally done for me, the artist. Painting creates another outcome— an unworded conversation. We have spoken before about your painting process becoming brushless and that you are constantly inventing a new vocabulary employing gesture, form and notation. The transition must have been very unnerving; as can pushing boundaries, testing yourself. How do you overcome the feeling of being uncomfortable? I do not feel uncomfortable, it’s the opposite, exploring is not unnerving, it’s exciting— for when you are in the act of painting you are not worrying, you are in the ceremony of painting. I love to see elements of the work change and how this changes everything else. At a certain point, when I say an artwork is finished, they still belong to me, yet there is a slight disconnect, , they are ready for people to see. There is no angst from the process, I am comfortable. What drives you to create the work that you’re doing and keep going? I am still obsessed with this way of activity. I still have more to discover. I have been painting for 9 years and I remain eager, it’s exciting. That first splash on the blank canvas— the thrill. Painting [creating] is still very enriching, it’s still in the form of play— grown up play. How do you avoid turning up and going through the motions— repeating yesterday? The feeling when one of your paintings hits the notes. By giving myself the opportunity to paint I hope and pray I’m clearing the way to be genuine,
  5. 5. honest, to move outside of the experience. I found there is a litmus test— the experience after— the experience of losing touch of time and space. If there is a disconnect with the amount of time that has lapsed, I feel as if I’ve moved from the outside in, as if I’ve been outside of the experience. What do you mean by when one of your paintings “hits the notes”? Hits the notes— when an artwork moves a person emotionally, when a person is moved deeply. It is rare, few and far between— the mystery of the human being, those moments of being moved froman external event into an internal event. Over the years there have been artists from the worlds of performance, literature, music and fine art that have left their indelible mark for all those that come after, how would you like to be remembered? I would best like to be remembered as an artist and human being who was both generous and kind. How exciting to think, that once I am gone, my artwork can still have the affect of creating an emotional experience like a good book or wonderful music. Photographs  courtesy  of  Chrissy  Eastwood
  6. 6. Designed & Created by: square shaped circles inc 168 Lenox Avenue, New York NY 10026 917 744 9692 | squareshapedcircles.com

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