'Those who would make art might well begin by reflecting on the fate of those who preceded them: most who began, quit. It's a genuine tragedy. Worse yet, it's an unnecessary tragedy - We're all subject to the familiar and universal progression of human troubles - troubles we routinely survive, but which are (oddly enough) routinely fatal to the artmaking process. To survive as an artist requires confronting these troubles. Basically, those who continue to make art are those who have learned how to continue - or more precisely, have learned how to not quit (page 10).'
Perhaps not the best quote, but an interesting one at least. If the non-artistic world can have self-help books on trading stocks and losing weight, I think artists could do with a self-help book as well.
This book happens to be it. 'Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking' is written by David Bayles and Ted Orland, two practicing artists in their own right. This book was assigned to me for a class and I have already finished it in the span of a day. Strangely short (118 pages), but amazingly succinct, the book tackles all the issues that are common with all artists be they writers, composers, or visual artists.
And what do we have in common with each other? We have a lot of fear and issues that curl out from this common handicap. We have the fear that we will disappoint the creations in our minds, we fear that we will be rejected and ridiculed by our audiences, and we even fear (perhaps especially) that we will be ignored like we don't exist at all.
Though this book does not give us answers, it gives us the encouragement to keep going on, to keep chasing that unicorn we all seek, be it fame or self-satisfaction, in our work. We're not alone and we haven't been since the first cave paintings of hunters and their deer. Whatever form of artmaking we do may not seem so, but it is important with how we ultimately view the world and how we relate to it.
This book has impressed me very much and I recommend it to everyone of Elfwood and beyond. It even has a sub-section on why many people copy what they admire and why that is a universal, yet stagnant, form of art. In the end, it has reaffirmed why I make art in the first place and why beginning artists need encouragement as well as guidance. For a little over ten US dollars, this book is a treasure.
In closing, I offer this almost-magical quote: 'To make art is to sing with the human voice. To do this you must first learn that the only voice you need is the voice you already have (page 117).'
Rating: Five Fairies
Official Website: http://www.artandfear.com
Authors: David Bayles and Ted Orland