Friday, February 21, 2014

Book Three: Living and Sustaining a Creative Life by Sharon Louden

Here is the idea behind Sharon Louden's Living and Sustaining a Creative Life: Ask 40 working artists to tell, in their own words, how they live their lives of creativity.  Since I'm starting 2014 off reading books about art and artists, this seemed like the perfect book to read. And while I see the value of this book, it left me with the impression that being an artist sucks.  Maybe that's true, but as an outsider, I might prefer not to know that.

Sure this book has its place.  It's a place which strikes me as largely academic.  It might be valuable as a text book for art students planning a life-long career as an artist. For the rest of us, the book might come across as too academic.  Or maybe it's just a little redundant. Many comments from various artists were very similar. Here are the things this book will tell you about being a working artist:
  • Studio time is important and you have to protect that time.
  • Having gallery representation has it's pros and cons.
  • You can be a successful artist without having gallery representation.
  • But probably, you want gallery representation
  • Whether it's teaching, moonlighting at galleries or art moving companies, or being involved with a non-profit organization, you'll probably need to supplement your career as an artist with other paying work.
  • Support from family and friends is an important part of being a happy, working artist.
What this book doesn't explore is how artists get to a place where they are creating meaningful work. Maybe it's because I recently read Eric Fischl's Bad Boy which does a brilliant job at helping readers understand how artists develop their ideas.  Creative process may have been intentionally left out of the scope of this collection of essays.  But for me it was a glaring omission.  As I consider increasing the time I dedicate to making art, understanding how other artists develop their perspective is just as valuable as understanding how to survive life as an artist.

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