Saturday, September 26, 2015

Book review: Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils

Have you read any interesting books lately?
May I recommend you read "Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils" by David Bayles and Ted Orland.
This book is about the challenges in making, or not making, art. It is a quick, no-nonsense, part-philosophical-part-practical examination of what it means to make art, no matter the medium or the form, and to continue to do so in spite of its inherent challenges. The authors' basic premise is that you can and will only ever be you, and all the other people in the world will also only ever be themselves. It might seem obvious, but the logical conclusion here is that it is a pity to not make art because you are the only person who could ever make the art that you make.

Another message from the book that resonated with me is that it is useless to compare your art to that of other artists. With that notion in mind, the authors explore different forms of fear that lead people to stop making art, and explain concisely why each one is silly, surmountable, and ultimately up to you to overcome. It's a beautiful piece of quasi-self-help that offers only blunt and useful considerations without any of the fluff and hand-holding with which self-help, as a genre, is infested.
At the end of the day, the individual recipe any artist finds for proceeding belongs to that artist alone and is non-transferable and no of little use to others.

Overall, the authors address the question of not "why do we make art?" but "why do we stop making art, why do we quit, how do we keep going?".

Here is a quote from the book:  “To require perfection is to invite paralysis. The pattern is predictable: as you see error in what you have done, you steer your work toward what you imagine you can do perfectly. You cling ever more tightly to what you already know you can do – away from risk and exploration, and possibly further from the work of your heart. You find reasons to procrastinate, since to not work is to not make mistakes.”

Today's artist find is Angus McEwan:
Angus McEwan, coming apart at the seams

Have a great week

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