- File Size: 50014 KB
- Print Length: 144 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0593086465
- Publisher: Riverhead Books (March 17, 2020)
- Publication Date: March 17, 2020
- Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07V78QZPF
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,812 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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How to Be an Artist Kindle Edition
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“Saltz has a rare ability, useful for a critic, to speak declaratively without coming off as pushy or didactic. . . . The overwhelming impression is one of urgent generosity. . . . While others have written about the fear of failure that lies at the heart of any creative pursuit[,] few have offered such concrete advice for overcoming it.” —Slate
“Saltz has not written a book for insiders, but for the novice enthusiast – something all of us have been at one time. Valuable insight on the creative process [with] a surprising amount of solid advice.” —Frieze
"The creative salve you need to assuage self-doubt and find inspiration." —Fast Company
“How to Be an Artist dispenses practical wisdom, inspiration, humor and honesty to nourish the artist in all of us. For those already taken by Saltz’s passionate criticism and witty storytelling—as well as those looking to persevere in creative professions—the book will prove to be a beautiful resource.” –David Graver, Cool Hunting
“Saltz is to be applauded for his direct confrontation of issues of personal trauma, systemic sexism and financial hardship – and for proclaiming, in the fifth tip, that ‘All art comes from love’. Joy is palpable in these pages. We are told to connect with our raw emotions, to admire the constant creative work our artist’s brain is undertaking, to learn from our mistakes and to shake off criticism. Saltz even tells us to dance. We need such thinking right now.” – Apollo
“An excellent read for any would-be artist who's looking for a blast of uplifting and inspirational advice[,] grounded in the real world.” – Creative Boom
"Trim, brilliant. . . . Whether you’re a proud amateur or a frustrated expert, these are words worth taking to heart. Saltz’s knowledge veins run deep, and his voice is crisp, frank, intimate and urgent." —BookPage
“Saltz offers ebullient, practical, and wise counsel to those who wonder, ‘How can I be an artist?’ …A succinct, passionate guide to fostering creativity.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Inspiration leaps off the pages from Jerry Saltz’s new book on creativity. One wants to say he’s revealing secrets, but really, he’s revealing intuition—intuition formed from decades of thinking about art. This book is for the artist or non-artist, for the person who gets plain English, for the person who understands that practical talk can coax out the mystical messages that lie underneath.”
“How to Be an Artist has relevance way beyond the art world. With his typical clarity and compassion, Jerry Saltz outlines a path for anyone who wants to dedicate their lives to chasing something they believe in. Even as a chef, I have Jerry’s advice ringing through my brain at all times.”
“In How to Be an Artist, Jerry Saltz is so right-on it scares me.”
“Jerry is an impassioned lover of all art and all artists, heartbroken when they’re not good and joyous when they are. You don’t read so much as bathe in his prose, turbulent but clear, emerging each time as hopeful as this morning.”
“ A ferociously positive and exuberant primer on being an artist. . . . Divine pragmatic advice with hope and intelligence.”
“An inspiring guide to making your art, putting it out into the world, and dealing with the consequences. I found a lot to steal here, and you will too.”
“What is an artist? If most things make you bored or sad, but creating things makes you feel better, that's a sign that Fate is ushering you over to a tiny, rickety chair with a sign overhead that says, Hey, you. You might be an artist. The challenge then is, how to be a better artist. And Jerry Saltz is right: The truest answer is work. Practice. Make mistakes. Tear it up. Do it again. Get better. Keep going.”
“I am so blown away by [How to Be an Artist], because it takes the tools of the literal masters and offers them to whoever wants them. Any reader would be lucky to escape their self-doubt to indulge in this straightforward, funny, and delightful guide.”
“Being an artist is a lonely pursuit—twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for the rest of your life. Most of the time it hurts. This book will help the pain.”
"How to Be an Artist is such a fun and juicy read for artists of all kinds. ‘Artists are cats,’ he says—such a simple but brilliant description of the artist’s relationship to the world. I read this and thought, I guess I am a real artist!"
“I was so moved by Jerry Saltz’s incredible new book, How to Be an Artist. . . . Deep and beautiful insights into how humans create.”
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I kind of feel like I know Jerry, at least his public persona. Seeing him at openings (via James Kalm videos). Seeing a few of his recorded talks online. Seeing him as the critic host on Bravo’s 2010 two season reality show “Work of Art: The Next Great Artist.” Reading his forthright confessional “My Life as a Failed Artist” in a 2017 Vulture article. And of course, his multi-cover 2018 New York Magazine article, whose content is largely contained in this book.
Jerry wears his awkwardness and vulnerability like a badge of honor, and his views feel off-the-cuff, unfiltered and uncalculated. Jerry plies the big bad art scene like a through-and-through New Yorker. An ideal, thorny antidote to the giddy, money-deranged modern art world. And as a critic in this day and age, his voice is a refreshing alternative to the dry, haughty, unbearably pious intellectualism that was tossed around art school, back in the early 1990s at least. Jerry is down to earth, direct, and a true believer in the art enterprise. He pulls no punches.
But this book is not a book about established artists or art criticism. It’s a gentler cookbook of ideas and advice to help artists who are “on their way” and need the firm yet caring commands of a ring-side coach.
How to Be an Artist is indeed a super quick read, but that’s partly because it’s so bubbly and thrilling.
Jerry lays out six steps (to be an artist) in 63 bite-sized chapters. The book winds at a brisk pace through diverse ideas, thought experiments, and challenging art studio exercises. It is bundled with quotes by Louise Bourgeois, Flaubert, Bob Dylan, William Blake, Carroll Dunham, Frank Stella, Picasso, Bridget Riley, Oscar Wilde, and even Einstein. I’m looking forward to being much more granular as I dig back into it and read it for a second time.
Below are a just a few of my highlighted passages:
>> But doubt is a sign of faith: it tests and humbles you, allows newness into your life. Best of all, doubt banishes the stifling effect of certainty. Certainty kills curiosity and change.
>> I want you to open yourself to what the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein meant when he said, “My head often knows nothing about what my hand is writing.” In other words: Learn how to listen, and the work will tell you what it wants.
>> Don’t worry about whether your art “makes sense.” The faster your work makes sense, the faster people will lose interest. Let go of being “good.” Start thinking about creating.
>> Avoid lingering on the well-worn path; you don’t want to be a minor example of someone else’s major style or idea. It’s a far better thing to let yourself get lost than never to stray at all.
>> Artists, like cats, communicate abstractly, at a remove. This is why artists hate to be asked what their work means. Even if what they make is a picture of a landscape, or a race riot, it’s not “about” only those things. It’s about much more—including itself, its materials and how they were used, and how the artist sees the world.
As for art itself, that’s much more like a dog: never quite behaving, making a mess, costing a lot, always making you get supplies, but paying you back in wonder and delight.
I’d like to finish this review with two requests for Jerry, if I may. First of all, how about re-releasing some of your other books / criticism collections for the Kindle? Wouldn’t you or at least your publishers (e.g. Hudson Hills) want to keep a bit of a revenue stream going? A lot of people, myself included, do 90% of their reading on devices now. I’d love to read “Seeing Out Loud” or “Seeing Out Louder.”
Otherwise - would you consider putting out a new collection of your critical writings from the past decade or two? (Don’t let Peter Schjeldahl have all the fun now!).
Secondly, in this book, I really loved the breadth and reach of artist quotes and anecdotes. I’d be quite happy to pay for a lot more! A rambling, loosely assembled book of just quotes by artists or other art world related figures, perhaps with a bit of wry commentary by Jerry Saltz? Dore Ashton did a fantastic book of quotes by Picasso (I’m sure you have it in your library). Just a suggestion.
Lastly, if you are just starting your quest as a struggling artist, consider pairing this book with “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield.
Thanks Jerry, for the inspiration and guidance.
- Greg in Japan (aka tonsfocus)
That said, it is a work primarily for visual artists. Given the number of books on how to write this isn’t a defect, but the aspiring writer will find advice than can only be applied analogously.
As a leading critic at the New Yorker, Saltz’s recommendations obviously have some stature behind them. But, and though I bought this book because I am a fan of his, I didn’t know that he worked for years as a truck driver afraid to venture into the art world. It was only his wife that finally got him to begin the necessary work that led him to where he is today.
As such, Saltz has something of a double authority to guide aspiring artists. He himself was an aspiring writer who for many years was afraid to quit his day job. And, as a professional art critic, he obviously knows what makes some art work and some not.
For those who want to be a visual artist, it’s a book to savor. There may be many, however, who get something of cold shower after reading what Saltz thinks it takes to make it. This is for them as well. Recommended to all interested in the portrait of the visual artist.
Then I received it and they had me by page 3 and the photo of Agnes Martin. That and finally getting around to ‘Why Wall St. Matters’ by Wm Cohan. It’s the #stayathome lifestyle. The revolution begins! Hail hail Jerry Saltz.
"gems" in it. I thought this would expand upon that article. Frankly, I recall the article having a lot more worthwhile advice than the book.
Top international reviews
The content is nicely written and sometimes the information is quite useful, plus there are some personal moving notes that bring value to the book... but overall, it feels like premium content on a website, with tips on how to be an artist structured in 60 something mini-chapters. It even sounds like one of those articles... “62 steps to be an artist”. In addition to that it has a couple of exercises spread around, in the “self help” therapy style... I don’t know how many artists will find those irresistible to try.
Despite the positive things I mentioned, the book feels short and expensive for what it actually offers.