Category Archives: Art

Book Review: Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age, by Jeff Goins

Real Artists Don't StarveIn Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age, author Jeff Goins encourages artists of all varieties to forget what he calls “the myth of the starving artist” and start making steps toward being a “thriving artist.” I imagine many readers may find at least one thing helpful, motivating, and/or inspiring, but the work in its entirety is often contradictory and unconvincing—not once is it demonstrated that anyone ever has or will travel the entire path anecdotally articulated by Goins. While many aspiring and current career artists (emphasis on career) will relate to one story or another, careful readers will see how data has been cherry picked and organized in such a way that presents the best evidence for the agenda of each chapter. There is no cohesive link that connects all attributes of the “thriving artist” as articulated, although attempts are made to use Michelangelo as the test case. Ultimately, Goins desires artists to be smart, flexible, and business savvy, which is great; however, life context is not the same for everyone, and the “starving artist” is a reality, not a myth, for numerous reasons. While we may certainly desire that artists (at least the good ones, as we perceive them) have a path for obtaining a wonderfully prosperous and fulfilling career, it simply isn’t and won’t be the case for everyone.

The book is outlined as follows (my words in parentheses):

Introduction: Myth of the Starving Artist (Except that it’s a reality, and Goins acknowledges this in the text. I think the whole book simply demonstrates his desire is to make it a myth, which would be great.)

Part 1: Mind-Set
1 You Aren’t Born an Artist (This is really addressing careers, not artistic talent.)
2 Stop Trying to Be Original (We learn from history, so use history. There’s little to no originality in the world, but there’s a lot or organizing and rearranging. I don’t think that means we don’t try to be original.)
3 Apprentice Under a Master (Yes, please! This path will often require contradiction between other points in the book, but it’s one we desperately need to bring back in Western culture.)
4 Harness Your Stubbornness (This doesn’t mean you let go of principles and ideals, but an artist must remain flexible in the many details of a career as an artist.)

Part 2: Market
5 Cultivate Patrons (Easier for extroverts and the less humble—not the same thing, by the way—this can be tough, but a necessity for a career. Find people who like and want to spread your work.)
6 Go Join a Scene (Easier said than done. Single folks will find this to be a lot easier than those with spouses and families. Still, we need beauty everywhere, not just in metropolitan pockets.)
7 Collaborate with Others (It’s extremely helpful and often necessary to further one’s skills, ideas, etc.)
8 Practice in Public (This goes with chapter 5—another hard one, but helpful in the proper contexts.)

Part 3: Money (The really hard part.)
9 Don’t Work for Free (Unless you have to, which is one of the biggest problems. The anecdotes used in this chapter are of those well into their careers, not those just starting out.)
10 Own Your Work (Another difficult one, and something one should definitely work toward if able. Again, anecdotes used here are of those able to do so.)
11 Diversify Your Portfolio (As with many careers, one often discoveries one must be able to do more than one thing—art, marketing, business, etc.)
12 Make Money to Make Art (Some will need a second job to make art while others will make enough—or more than enough—with their art to make more. Stuff requires money, so you’re going to need it. It’s simple economics.)

Conclusion: Join the New Renaissance (Go buck the system! Or stay as you are. You know, whatever works for your career and ideals.)

In the endnotes, Goins provides a link for the sources and data used for this book: dontstarve.com/tools

 

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: Portrait Revolution: Inspiration from Around the World for Creating Art in Multiple Mediums and Styles, by Julia L. Kay

Portrait RevolutionPortrait Revolution: Inspiration from Around the World for Creating Art in Multiple Mediums and Styles by Julia L. Kay is a beautiful and inspiring journey into the what, why, and how of portrait making through the mind’s eye of artists around the world. Wonderfully organized according to media, style, and theme, most of the book presents portrait samples of the same person as rendered by different artists. Every portrait includes subject, artist, medium, and size (when applicable), but many include notes by the artist—a brief explanation of the image or insight into method. The book concludes with featured artists and a helpful collage of quotes by included artists on portrait making.

While many may stumble upon this up at a bookstore, flip through its pages to see what he or she does and does not like, and then put it down—let’s be honest, not all of the included portraits are going to be aesthetically pleasing to all—Kay has included text for a reason. Read it! While I did not enjoy a great many of the portraits, I did enjoy hearing from the artists themselves, which caused me to think more deeply about how I might interpret a portrait in different ways. I learned.

Kudos to Kay and all contributors. I’ve been inspired to do more portraits and, perhaps, even look into finding interest from other artists in my area who may want to start up our own “portrait party.”

 

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Book Review: The Inkblots: Hermann Rorshach, His Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing, by Damion Searls

The InkblotsDamion Searls’ The Inkblots: Hermann Rorshach, His Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing is a beautiful work of narrative non-fiction about which the title makes quite clear. This is Searls’ first book of this type and it is fabulous. Well-researched and well-written, I found it both intellectually and artistically engaging.

The first half of the book is primarily biographical, through which we discover the development and true intent of Rorshach’s famous (or infamous, as some may perceive it) inkblots test. The latter half chronicles further development and use (or misuse) of the test from the Swiss doctor’s death in 1922 to present day, a fantastic journey of controversy that had me questioning, evaluating, and empathizing with both testers and test-takers throughout. The reader will eventually discover that the real take away from this book is, again, right there in the title: the power of seeing. We all perceive differently, and Rorshach, being both an artist and doctor, tapped into the possibilities of what we may discover about others and ourselves based on perceptions of just ten cards of symmetrical inkblots. One can only speculate what Rorshach could and would have further done with it had he not tragically died at such an early age.

Aesthetically, two sections of glossy pages that include photos of Rorashach, family, and artwork are welcomed and helpful additions. Kudos to Elena Giavaldi for the striking dust jacket that will surely catch both eye and hand of many potential readers.

 

I highly recommend this book, especially for those the least bit interested in art and/or psychology. It will not disappoint.

 

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Book Review: Silence and Beauty: Hidden Faith Born of Suffering, by Makoto Fujimura

Silence and BeautyWith a mix of exposition, critique, biography, and memoir, Makoto Fujimura’s Silence and Beauty: Hidden Faith Born of Suffering wrestles with Shusako Endo’s 1969 novel, Silence, providing empathetic insight into the past, present, and hopeful future of Japanese culture. Though many may disagree with and even criticize both Endo’s and Fujimura’s theological perspectives regarding Catholicism and authentic Christian faith in Japan both past and present, one need neither agree nor disagree in order to benefit from taking this journey with Fujimura. Yes, there may be times when one questions the validity of arguments and perspectives expressed in Silence and Beauty, but the reality of shumi-e culture still exists in varied forms, and Fujimura encourages us to see both tragedy and beauty in the brokenness. One may be left with more questions in the end, but they are questions worth asking and wrestling with.

For those who have not yet read Endo’s novel, Fujimura provides a synopsis at the end of the book (Appendix 3). There’s also a glossary of Japanese terms and definitions since they are not all defined in the text. I recommend reading all three appendices and the glossary before taking the journey. This will only take a few minutes and will serve you well.

Further resources may be found at silenceandbeauty.com.

 

*I received a temporary digital copy for review from InterVarsity Press via NetGalley.

Book Review: Understanding Exposure (4th Edition): How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera, by Bryan Peterson

Understanding Exposure, 4th EditionUnderstanding Exposure (4th Edition): How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera by Bryan Peterson aptly and engagingly unlocks the mysteries of what Peterson refers to as the photographic triangle (aperture, shutter speed, and ISO) in order to capture the correct exposure for any image. Multiple shots of the same scene are provided with specific settings in order to see the differences these can make as Peterson educates the reader. I’ve needed a book like this for a long time, and am glad it’s found a home in my library, sure to be referenced time and again. (I’ve not read any of the three previous editions, so I can’t speak to the updates in this one [there has been significant progress in the world of digital photography since the third edition, so it’s probably worth the update].)

His first piece of advice is to find the manual setting (as opposed to the myriad of automatic settings) on your camera, set it, leave it there, and then throw away the manual for the camera. Of course, most people buy cameras specifically for automatic settings, and Peterson explains why that’s (basically) stupid when it’s so easy to capture the desired image with a little bit of knowledge and practice. So, for those seriously interested in photography and taking great pictures, perhaps getting a camera sans auto settings would be the best route.

A few points I particularly appreciate:

  1. A creatively correct exposure rather than just a correct exposure. Granted, this is going to be in the eye of the artist, but it helps to understand how to tweak the settings to the best among a number of potentially correct exposures.
  2. Aperture can help tell a story with depth of focus.
  3. Implied motion can be obtained through shutter speed.
  4. Light meters assume 18% light reflectance, which can really be thrown off when trying to capture an image with stark contrasts between black and white, which reflect light very differently in the same shot.

I only have one real critique: Peterson downplays white balance, stating that he leaves his “set to Sunlight 99 percent of the time when shooting in natural light” because most of what he does is outdoors (p.19). This is fine, and what I will likely find myself doing, but those looking for some advice on more indoor shooting may find the book a bit lacking, although there are still some great tips.

 

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.