One of my favorite art finds in recent years is the “Dummy Cat” by David Weidman, which hangs in my Manhattan apartment. It is a signed serigraph print, which I bought at an outdoor flea market in Chelsea several years ago for $40. You can buy one today from Weidman’s own website for $250.
It wasn’t so much the bargain that attracted me to the Weidman piece, but the fanciful cat itself. As an admitted cat lover (I have four), I of course liked the subject. But as an art enthusiast, I also liked the way you feel when you look at Weidman’s cat – it makes you smile.
Dummy Cat is a signature piece of Weidman’s, who today at age 87 has left quite a mark on the art, graphic design, and animation worlds over the last six decades. He began his career in the 1950s as an animator for the famed Hanna-Barbera studio in Los Angeles. He soon began working for himself, and in the decades that followed, created a unique and iconic style.
In December 2008, Gingko Press published The Whimsical Work of David Weidman – and Also Some Serious Ones. According to the publisher’s press release, Weidman’s “staggering body of work is as modern and visually stunning as it was forty years ago,” and added, “he never stopped experimenting as an artist.”
There is a lesson here for all of us, particularly those who are managing today’s businesses during trying economic times. Managers should resist the urge to hunker down, withdraw, and play it safe. Now is exactly the time to take a page from Weidman’s animated book – to re-double efforts, and challenge employees to create and to “experiment.”
You should also add “whimsy” to your corporate vocabulary. Nurture and celebrate those within your organization who turn dreams and fancy into innovative products and services – and in doing so, enable your business to grow and thrive.