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Make Your Art No Matter What: Moving Beyond Creative Hurdles

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The Artist's Way for the 21st century—from esteemed creative counselor Beth Pickens. If you are an artist, you need to make your art. That's not an overstatement—it's a fact; if you stop doing your creative work, your quality of life is diminished. But what do you do when life gets in the way? In this down-to-earth handbook, experienced artist coach Beth Pickens offers prac The Artist's Way for the 21st century—from esteemed creative counselor Beth Pickens. If you are an artist, you need to make your art. That's not an overstatement—it's a fact; if you stop doing your creative work, your quality of life is diminished. But what do you do when life gets in the way? In this down-to-earth handbook, experienced artist coach Beth Pickens offers practical advice for developing a lasting and meaningful artistic practice in the face of life's inevitable obstacles and distractions. This thoughtful volume suggests creative ways to address the challenges all artists must overcome—from making decisions about time, money, and education, to grappling with isolation, fear, and anxiety. No matter where you are in your art-making journey, this book will motivate and inspire you. Because not only do you need your art—the world needs it, too. • EXPERT ADVICE: Beth Pickens is an experienced and passionate arts advocate with extensive insight into working through creative obstacles. She has spent the last decade advising artists on everything from financial strategy to coping with grief. • PRACTICAL AND POSITIVE: This book is both a love letter to art and artists and a hands-on guide to approaching the thorniest problems those artists might face. Pickens offers a warm reminder that you are not alone, that what you do matters, and that someone out there wants you to succeed. • TIMELESS TOPIC: Like a trusted advisor, this book is an invaluable resource jam-packed with strategies for building a successful creative practice. From mixing business and friendship to marketing yourself on social media, this book can help. And it will—again and again. Perfect for: • Visual artists and makers • Writers, musicians, filmmakers, and other creatives • Art and design school graduates and grad-gift givers


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The Artist's Way for the 21st century—from esteemed creative counselor Beth Pickens. If you are an artist, you need to make your art. That's not an overstatement—it's a fact; if you stop doing your creative work, your quality of life is diminished. But what do you do when life gets in the way? In this down-to-earth handbook, experienced artist coach Beth Pickens offers prac The Artist's Way for the 21st century—from esteemed creative counselor Beth Pickens. If you are an artist, you need to make your art. That's not an overstatement—it's a fact; if you stop doing your creative work, your quality of life is diminished. But what do you do when life gets in the way? In this down-to-earth handbook, experienced artist coach Beth Pickens offers practical advice for developing a lasting and meaningful artistic practice in the face of life's inevitable obstacles and distractions. This thoughtful volume suggests creative ways to address the challenges all artists must overcome—from making decisions about time, money, and education, to grappling with isolation, fear, and anxiety. No matter where you are in your art-making journey, this book will motivate and inspire you. Because not only do you need your art—the world needs it, too. • EXPERT ADVICE: Beth Pickens is an experienced and passionate arts advocate with extensive insight into working through creative obstacles. She has spent the last decade advising artists on everything from financial strategy to coping with grief. • PRACTICAL AND POSITIVE: This book is both a love letter to art and artists and a hands-on guide to approaching the thorniest problems those artists might face. Pickens offers a warm reminder that you are not alone, that what you do matters, and that someone out there wants you to succeed. • TIMELESS TOPIC: Like a trusted advisor, this book is an invaluable resource jam-packed with strategies for building a successful creative practice. From mixing business and friendship to marketing yourself on social media, this book can help. And it will—again and again. Perfect for: • Visual artists and makers • Writers, musicians, filmmakers, and other creatives • Art and design school graduates and grad-gift givers

30 review for Make Your Art No Matter What: Moving Beyond Creative Hurdles

  1. 4 out of 5

    tappkalina

    We are not responsible for our first thought. We are responsible for our second thought and first action. Don't think it's bad, because I gave it 2 stars. 2 stars to me literally mean "it was okay". I just expected a totally different book based on the title. I thought an artist will lighten me up, tell me secrets, or reapeat the forever repeated facts, instead the author stated at the beginning that she doesn't consider herself an artist, but she works with them, so here is how she can help. We are not responsible for our first thought. We are responsible for our second thought and first action. Don't think it's bad, because I gave it 2 stars. 2 stars to me literally mean "it was okay". I just expected a totally different book based on the title. I thought an artist will lighten me up, tell me secrets, or reapeat the forever repeated facts, instead the author stated at the beginning that she doesn't consider herself an artist, but she works with them, so here is how she can help. So what this book is about exactly? The main titles are: Time, Work, Asking, Money, Fear, Grief, Other people, Education, Thinking + Feeling, Isolation, Marketing, Death + God (not necessarily in a religious way). I would actually recommend this to those who need some guidance both in their art or life in general. The target audience may be artists, but in my opinion this book could help anybody. I mena, who couldn't use some tips on time and money management? But I watch and read so much stuff about writing and self-improvement, that I didn't get new informations. Although I got two amazing quotes, so that's a win itself. Don't believe everything you think.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alicia Bayer

    This is a helpful, uplifting book for artists of all types. Pickens has spent years helping artists meet their creative goals and she gives great advice, but it's her underlying supportive tone that I appreciated the most. Most of her experience is with artists who are POC, LGBTQ and other communities that are frequently marginalized. She speaks to this often as she busts myths and acknowledges the real differences that artists create under. For instance, she talks about the fact that many of he This is a helpful, uplifting book for artists of all types. Pickens has spent years helping artists meet their creative goals and she gives great advice, but it's her underlying supportive tone that I appreciated the most. Most of her experience is with artists who are POC, LGBTQ and other communities that are frequently marginalized. She speaks to this often as she busts myths and acknowledges the real differences that artists create under. For instance, she talks about the fact that many of her clients felt like failures because their peers were able to buy their own homes at a young age until they realized that most of those peers had help from family or other assistance that made it possible. She talks about the fact that you don't have to be able to fully support yourself with your art in order to be an artist (or a successful one) and gently walks you through topics like money, marketing, depression, isolation, education, community and so much more. It's all great advice and has me energized to get back to my poetry and other artistic pursuits. Our family recently bought a 120 year old church a block from our house to turn into a community arts center (lest that sound too extravagant, it was the price of a used car and currently has no running water and minimal heat). We've been filling it with musical instruments, art and crafting supplies, music and poetry books, costumes, props, and other supplies for the day when covid is over and we can open it for the community (you can peek here https://www.instagram.com/p/CHA7ZaRB9wv/ and here https://www.instagram.com/p/CIQ0ZHjBaIc/ if you want to see) for music, dance, improv, crafts and community for all ages. This is a book I'd like to stock at the church once we open it, and one I recommend for artists of all types. I read a temporary digital ARC of this book for review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Aisling

    This is a book I will be keeping as a reference/mini therapy session and a book I will be buying and gifting to friends. Although the author tries especially to help marginalized artists this is a great book for anyone. It is broken down into very manageable concepts and each one is clearly explained and suggestions (from her years as a therapist to artists) for overcoming doubts or hurdles is generously given. I found myself inspired and armed with lots of techniques for accomplishing goals. Of This is a book I will be keeping as a reference/mini therapy session and a book I will be buying and gifting to friends. Although the author tries especially to help marginalized artists this is a great book for anyone. It is broken down into very manageable concepts and each one is clearly explained and suggestions (from her years as a therapist to artists) for overcoming doubts or hurdles is generously given. I found myself inspired and armed with lots of techniques for accomplishing goals. Of course a book can't replace one on one therapy but this book sure comes close. I highly recommend it for artists of any kind or even just people who run a small business. The advice in here is useful, helpful, and warmly given. A great read and a great game plan.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Holli

    This is a book for artists trying to work through the various things that block them. The writing is light and conversational and the author clearly understands the artist's mind. It's broken down by chapter which makes it easy to find what you are looking for and it has practical exercises/homework. Though I can't imagine many authors think they need to learn more about "Death" to be a better artist there is a chapter for that. A lot of what is said here has been said in other books I've read a This is a book for artists trying to work through the various things that block them. The writing is light and conversational and the author clearly understands the artist's mind. It's broken down by chapter which makes it easy to find what you are looking for and it has practical exercises/homework. Though I can't imagine many authors think they need to learn more about "Death" to be a better artist there is a chapter for that. A lot of what is said here has been said in other books I've read and said better. I found a few good suggestions early on so it wasn't a complete waste. I think this is a case of YMMV. I can see some people getting benefit but I would hardly recommend this one over something like Art and Fear or Bird by Bird. Also, it's worth mentioning that far too often the author feels the need to categorize everyone by identities and has a distinct post-modernist power dynamic to her world view. I could not get behind this and found myself rolling my eyes each time it happened. Thanks to Netgalley for providing a free copy to read in exchange for an honest review. (TBH I read more of this than I normally would have just because I wanted to leave a solid review)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

    Pragmatic, generous, wise. Not exactly revelatory, but I think intentionally so; it seems more concerned with laying things out clearly so that they feel not just possible, but manageable over the long haul. I hate how so many advice books suggest solutions that seem to require even more effort & work than actually doing the thing itself.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cathy Geha

    Make Your Art No Matter What by Beth Pickens Moving Beyond Creative Hurdles With personal anecdotes, examples and stories taken from people she has consulted with, information she has gleaned from life, and issues she believes are important to artists this book provides case studies, suggestions, activities, meditations, list making, work to be done and more as it identifies twelve areas that might cause difficulty and how to overcome issues that might arise. The Twelve areas covered: * Time * Work * Make Your Art No Matter What by Beth Pickens Moving Beyond Creative Hurdles With personal anecdotes, examples and stories taken from people she has consulted with, information she has gleaned from life, and issues she believes are important to artists this book provides case studies, suggestions, activities, meditations, list making, work to be done and more as it identifies twelve areas that might cause difficulty and how to overcome issues that might arise. The Twelve areas covered: * Time * Work * Asking * Money * Fear * Grief * Other People * Education * Thinking and Feeling * Isolation * Marketing * Death + God - additional reading suggestions a As an amateur artist, I have gotten away from the practice of creating and thought this book might assist me in returning to art, but it did not provide that stimulus or ideas that I was hoping for. Instead, it is more of a friendly consultant-like exploration of the topics listed above, the author’s thoughts and suggestions and beliefs on each topic, and a bit like a manual and self-help for artists with the above specific issues to address. If you do have such issues then this book might help, but it is not the book that I need right now or the one I was hoping it would be. Thank you to NetGalley and Chronicle Books for the ARC – This is my honest review. 2-3 Stars

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sunaina Rao

    I may be a little too old for this book, but I'm giving it 4 stars because I really want to buy this book many of the young people in my life. This book is great because it's filled with little wisdom nuggets, broken up by catchy headers, and has useful chapter titles. I envision it being a book you skim through and then come back to as you need it. I liked the subtle artwork inside the book as well - very soothing. It covers everything from fear and anxiety, to marketing your art, to establishi I may be a little too old for this book, but I'm giving it 4 stars because I really want to buy this book many of the young people in my life. This book is great because it's filled with little wisdom nuggets, broken up by catchy headers, and has useful chapter titles. I envision it being a book you skim through and then come back to as you need it. I liked the subtle artwork inside the book as well - very soothing. It covers everything from fear and anxiety, to marketing your art, to establishing a workflow and more. It's like a little toolkit for talking yourself off the edge when confronted with obstacles that artists often face. The author also includes resources for further reading. Not a book I would have bought for myself as a young person, but one I would have cherished as a gift. One thing I did get from the book was the license to call myself an artist, at least in my head. The chapter on what makes someone an artist really rang true to me. I appreciated the author's use of their own experiences to help illustrate the points backed up by the sources they cited. Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cooper Lee Bombardier

    Essential reading for all artists and writers. I especially appreciate the way the book engages holistically with well-being and creativity and discusses the importance of taking care of ourselves--pushing back against the myth of the self-destructive artist prevalent in patriarchal capitalism. This book is a friend worth keeping nearby to come back to again and again as you work. What an act of generosity of Beth Pickens to make her wisdom about what artist struggle with--and how to meet these i Essential reading for all artists and writers. I especially appreciate the way the book engages holistically with well-being and creativity and discusses the importance of taking care of ourselves--pushing back against the myth of the self-destructive artist prevalent in patriarchal capitalism. This book is a friend worth keeping nearby to come back to again and again as you work. What an act of generosity of Beth Pickens to make her wisdom about what artist struggle with--and how to meet these issues head on and with compassion--available to us all. Also, Pickens is a fantastic writer in her own right and there's tons of humor and wit throughout.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tess Malone

    This is a guide for how not let obstacles prevent you from making your art. Pickens breaks down the common barriers to artistic practice—issues with time, not asking for you need, even fear of death—and gives smart questions to ask and concrete solutions. I appreciated the anti-Capitalist and intersectional framework. Pickens is, as always, as a warm and empathetic task master you need to get out of your own way and make your art!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    Originally posted on my blog: Nonstop Reader. Make Your Art No Matter What is a well written practical guide full of anecdotes and advice by art advocate Beth Pickens. Due out 6th April 2021 from Chronicle Books, it's 208 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats. It's not much of an overstatement to say that everyone I know has had their lives impacted in major and minor ways because of the pandemic and the societal shifts which have occurred to a greater degree the last yea Originally posted on my blog: Nonstop Reader. Make Your Art No Matter What is a well written practical guide full of anecdotes and advice by art advocate Beth Pickens. Due out 6th April 2021 from Chronicle Books, it's 208 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats. It's not much of an overstatement to say that everyone I know has had their lives impacted in major and minor ways because of the pandemic and the societal shifts which have occurred to a greater degree the last year (and a little bit). There have been upheavals in travel, culture, performance art, museums, studios, makers' groups, libraries, concerts, everywhere, top to bottom. Additionally, humans are social creatures, we create because we *need to*... and those psychological and creative outlets have been severely curtailed or cut off altogether. This is a timely look at how to continue to make art practice and creativity a non-negotiable part of our existence. These are concrete suggestions from an experienced advocate, applicable for all ages. When I read the author's words about social justice and advocacy work they resonated so deeply. I have the same cares, the same feelings (justice, equity, reproductive health advocacy for women no matter where they live, disability action and access, LGBTQIA+ rights, education access, freedoms, safety, etc etc).. and have also *needed* art, music, expression, to gather and maintain some sort of positive energy in my own life surrounded by desperate inequality, unfairness, danger, and the general seemingly unrelenting sh*tstorm that is much of world existence these days. I'm a healthcare professional, I've dedicated my life and my intellect to improving the lives of my fellow humans, but I get overwhelmed and burnt out. I have needed art to survive (and thrive). This is a valuable resource for artists, with concrete advice and guidance. It's also conversely a good read for audiences and patrons of the arts. I would recommend this as a meaningful selection for library acquisition as well as for students and admirers of the arts. Four stars. Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    "Here is my thesis, and it will not be the last time that I tell you this: You are going to die. I will, too. We have to make choices about time because we have the nite gift of one existence. You should make your art." This book is written for artists. Even though the author does an excellent job defining what an artist, I couldn't decide if I was one or not (which maybe means I am not), but I decided to put that aside and just enjoy her solid advice. "The more you give time and resources to your "Here is my thesis, and it will not be the last time that I tell you this: You are going to die. I will, too. We have to make choices about time because we have the nite gift of one existence. You should make your art." This book is written for artists. Even though the author does an excellent job defining what an artist, I couldn't decide if I was one or not (which maybe means I am not), but I decided to put that aside and just enjoy her solid advice. "The more you give time and resources to your art, the more you’ll understand paid employment as something that supports your art and life. We get this backward, thinking that we are on the planet to work and earn money. Let’s ip it—we earn a living to pay for our lives." The book is divided into different sections that cover different areas of worry: time, work, asking, money, fear, grief, other people, education, thinking+feeling, isolation, marketing, death+god. Each section dives deep into that area and explores what is holding the artist back and gives ways to shift that thinking. "It is said that we are not responsible for our first thought. We are responsible for our second thought and our first action...Our first thought could be steeped in fear, judgment, old thought patterns, and stories; perhaps it’s distinctly someone else’s voice—an ex, a family member, an authority figure from long ago. We’re not responsible for that first bullshit thought. We are responsible for our next thought, the second thought, which we consciously conjure in response to that first thought. Then, we’re responsible for our first action." There is so much gold in this book. Regardless of if you're artist or not, I am convinced you will get solid value out of this book. And if you're an artist, you might get even more. Above all, the author makes this excellent reminder (you can substitute "your art" with anything else that's meaningful to you): "Your life is finite, and you should make your art. Things will get in the way and you should still make your art." with gratitude to netgalley and chronicle books for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    This was more helpful and relevant than I expected. Sometimes books with big titles like this promise a lot and deliver the equivalent of a carousel of instagram infographics. That is not the case here. Beth Pickens, who works as a therapist for artists, understands the real issues many artists face. Her words were a salve to me, someone who grew up in a home where artists were laughable and who currently lives in a society that does not place much value on art. Pickens supplies words of encoura This was more helpful and relevant than I expected. Sometimes books with big titles like this promise a lot and deliver the equivalent of a carousel of instagram infographics. That is not the case here. Beth Pickens, who works as a therapist for artists, understands the real issues many artists face. Her words were a salve to me, someone who grew up in a home where artists were laughable and who currently lives in a society that does not place much value on art. Pickens supplies words of encouragement and advice beyond “believe in yourself” emptiness, which is true but not very helpful. Reading this book while finally working with my own great therapist has me feeling more at peace.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Marissa

    This is not the exact book I needed right now, but I know it would have been so helpful when I was having a really tough time fitting art-making and, truly, my identity as an artist into my everyday life. Lots of practical strategies for addressing the things that get in the way of making art (you know, like money and day jobs and time and self-doubt). Not fuzzy at all, but kind and supportive, as one would hope a creative coach would be. Loved the list of books recommended in the back & that I’ This is not the exact book I needed right now, but I know it would have been so helpful when I was having a really tough time fitting art-making and, truly, my identity as an artist into my everyday life. Lots of practical strategies for addressing the things that get in the way of making art (you know, like money and day jobs and time and self-doubt). Not fuzzy at all, but kind and supportive, as one would hope a creative coach would be. Loved the list of books recommended in the back & that I’d already read most of them made me wonder if I know more than I think I know.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kate M. Colby

    In this self-help book for artists and creative people of all disciplines, psychological counselor Beth Pickens explores the areas where her clients most struggle (e.g. time, money, marketing). She does a great job of acknowledging uncontrollable factors that may limit artists (such as race and gender) without allowing them to become excuses. Moreover, she provides actionable tips for how to approach each challenge from both a practical and psychological angle. And even when encouraging artists In this self-help book for artists and creative people of all disciplines, psychological counselor Beth Pickens explores the areas where her clients most struggle (e.g. time, money, marketing). She does a great job of acknowledging uncontrollable factors that may limit artists (such as race and gender) without allowing them to become excuses. Moreover, she provides actionable tips for how to approach each challenge from both a practical and psychological angle. And even when encouraging artists do make art because, literally, time is finite and we will die, she remains encouraging and positive. The only reason I rated it 4 stars instead of 5 was that many of the sections dealt with topics that I already have handled in my creative life or that I have seen better explained in other self-help books. But the topics that did help me were extremely beneficial and gave me great food for thought. Highly recommended for creatives, artists, or anyone who feels a calling and compulsion to create but struggles with the process. (So, all of us creative types at one time or another!)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Denise みか Hutchins

    This book was easy to read, relatable, and included good information that I think will help lots of artists with creative block, imposter syndrome, making time for art, etc. If you've never read a book like this before and are struggling in your artmaking, I recommend picking it up! Unfortunately for me, I am already practicing all the relevant tips (e.g. seeing a mental health professional, dedicating regular time to my craft, giving myself weekends off, even using my mortality as a reality chec This book was easy to read, relatable, and included good information that I think will help lots of artists with creative block, imposter syndrome, making time for art, etc. If you've never read a book like this before and are struggling in your artmaking, I recommend picking it up! Unfortunately for me, I am already practicing all the relevant tips (e.g. seeing a mental health professional, dedicating regular time to my craft, giving myself weekends off, even using my mortality as a reality check), so rather than the boost in motivation I was hoping to get, the book simply reassured me that I'm already doing the right things and it's just a matter of patience and persistence now. Rating the book on whether it would be helpful for others, I give it five stars. Rating its helpfulness to me, including the occasional typos in the Humble Bundle eBook edition, only three. Hence, my overall four-star rating.

  16. 5 out of 5

    sophie

    Fairly simple self-help book, but I didn't find much that I haven't read in other books. The writing is a bit repetitive, making a short novel feel padded out. I almost stopped reading after the short section about artists with inherited money. Ex: "These artists feel a lot of guilt, shame, and secrecy about access to their money...They fear judgement in their community, worry people will ask them for money...We don't get to choose our parents or grandparents; we have no choice in the economic ci Fairly simple self-help book, but I didn't find much that I haven't read in other books. The writing is a bit repetitive, making a short novel feel padded out. I almost stopped reading after the short section about artists with inherited money. Ex: "These artists feel a lot of guilt, shame, and secrecy about access to their money...They fear judgement in their community, worry people will ask them for money...We don't get to choose our parents or grandparents; we have no choice in the economic circumstances we are born into. This is true no matter what end of the economic spectrum you find your family in.” (p. 38 - 40). <- Am I supposed to believe that artists who don't have to worry about living paycheck to paycheck working 40+ hour work weeks don't have much easier lives? It's a jarring and strangely disingenuous inclusion when the majority are not economically privileged.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I listened to the author on an episode of the Forever 35 podcast and loved the interview. I liked this book a lot less, but one valuable takeaway from the book for me has been the author's daily attention to death, and particularly the app WeCroak! I listened to the author on an episode of the Forever 35 podcast and loved the interview. I liked this book a lot less, but one valuable takeaway from the book for me has been the author's daily attention to death, and particularly the app WeCroak!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Heller

    I’m not exactly an artist, but I do need to make space in my life for creative practice. Lots of interest in here to anyone trying to think through how to exist authentically with their work just now.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Laurion

    This is a book to keep on a shelf and return to when creating art seems too much/not enough/overwhelming/etc etc. I’ve already reread a couple chapters to get myself through my current project. I especially appreciate the last chapter on death and remembrance of our finite time on this planet.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Chelsee Bergen

    An excellent book that I know I’ll be returning to again. Will definitely be gifting this to my artist friends as well!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Isa (Pages Full of Stars)

    Review to come!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Maryia Virshych

    Exactly what I needed to hear. Especially the parts about money, day jobs, fear and self-identifying as an artist.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Hanson

    Essential reading for creatives! Will go back to this again and again. It’s not comprehensive, but definitely a good starting place for artists trying to get their creative practice and motive in order before branching into more detailed resources like podcasts or coaching groups. I found the first few chapters the most helpful.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ellis

    Beth’s new book is so wonderful I keep recommending it to friends and discussing elements of the book with them. As a disabled artist with chronic pain my practice is slow paced and not my means of financial support, so I don’t see my experience reflected in most art coaching or career advise. I can’t hustle for grants or churn out content the way my able bodied peers can. This book was welcoming and relieving to read. So many anxieties and struggles I have with my art are related here and Beth Beth’s new book is so wonderful I keep recommending it to friends and discussing elements of the book with them. As a disabled artist with chronic pain my practice is slow paced and not my means of financial support, so I don’t see my experience reflected in most art coaching or career advise. I can’t hustle for grants or churn out content the way my able bodied peers can. This book was welcoming and relieving to read. So many anxieties and struggles I have with my art are related here and Beth has lot of ways to cope! The biggest takeaway for me is that if you are an artist, making art is an essential part of your mental and spiritual health. Treat it as something you need to do like flossing or getting enough sleep. Reframing your art this way shifts so much energy away from stress about making money off your art, having a career, feeling selfish taking time for your art. In fact none of that is important! Make your art no matter what! Thankyou Beth for this book- especially during Covid, when being an artist is difficult and confusing. It is a gift!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Deirdre

    The most memorable sentence in this book: “We are not responsible for our first thought. We are responsible for our second thought and first action.” Loved that.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    For whatever reason, this book hit me just the way I needed it to. Pickens, from the start, says she's not an artist. She's a coach who works with artists. And I think that's one of the reasons this book works so well. Too often, when artists write books about "doing the work," they share their methods/routines/schedules in a prescriptive matter. They can get too caught up in how it works for them, and think that it works that way for everyone. But Pickens works with multiple people and gets to w For whatever reason, this book hit me just the way I needed it to. Pickens, from the start, says she's not an artist. She's a coach who works with artists. And I think that's one of the reasons this book works so well. Too often, when artists write books about "doing the work," they share their methods/routines/schedules in a prescriptive matter. They can get too caught up in how it works for them, and think that it works that way for everyone. But Pickens works with multiple people and gets to work through their issues with them--great! Although I've been a creative person who makes things my whole life (textile arts, photos, creative writing pieces), I still cringe internally when I call myself an artist. I don't have a BFA or MFA, and I feel like I don't belong in the art world. Since my day job is not directly related to art, it's easy to push my making/creative practice off to the side, after I've done other things. Of course, the problem is there's no end to other things that can get in the way. So I've read a TON of books about getting into a creative practice, making art, being an artist, etc (many of which assume you have art school training/formal art school style critique experience/a foot in the art world). And I've gotten something out of each of those books. But *this book* is what I needed to read *right now.* So many books of "getting creative work done" can be boiled down to "if you really care about [writing/photography/dancing/artmaking] you'll do it. Otherwise maybe you're not cut out for this." That tough love approach doesn't actually get to the heart of where resistance can come from. In this book, however, Pickens invites you to dig in to your family history, personal history, how your life has made it so you feel like your art (and artmaking) isn't important enough to do. There was one part of this book that suddenly made me remember a 25 year old choice that had to be made, and it was like a lightning bolt of understanding to my some of my present day hangups. Similarly, a lot of books on living as an artist also get weird around the idea that most artists are going to need a day job. There's a bit of a "keep the day job (blech), but hopefully you'll eventually make it on your art alone" tone to the advice around money and work. Pickens sidesteps the whole thing. She saysL "[...] I want you to turn down the pressure valve on your creative practice earning you a living. Your art is already doing a lot for you. Can you consider the radical proposal that even if you work never pays you, it will still be a valuable and integral part of your life, for the rest of your life? What if your art gives you life and your employment pays for that life?" Yes, what if the practice--the living giving nature of the practice itself--is the important part? What if you held that as your truth? Where would that get you?

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michelle McGrane

    A creative counsellor and artist coach, Beth Pickens begins her book with a love letter to all artists: “Dear Reader, I love artists. You are my favourite people and my life is more livable because of your work. I’m so grateful for what you make and put into the world. All my life, art has facilitated my ability to have feelings during disorientating grief, challenged me to grow even when I didn’t want to, introduced me to crucial information I couldn’t find elsewhere, and helped me become more A creative counsellor and artist coach, Beth Pickens begins her book with a love letter to all artists: “Dear Reader, I love artists. You are my favourite people and my life is more livable because of your work. I’m so grateful for what you make and put into the world. All my life, art has facilitated my ability to have feelings during disorientating grief, challenged me to grow even when I didn’t want to, introduced me to crucial information I couldn’t find elsewhere, and helped me become more of myself”. She continues, “The full scope of human emotion becomes available to me and is then intensified by art. Art tells me that I am not alone in any feeling, thought, or experience. Art has saved my life and the lives of many of my loved ones”. Boom! The first paragraph already insists that the book is a trusted companion that every artist needs to read and own. It’s a long time since I read such honest, simple and passionate first lines. Pickens goes on to identify a number of major roadblocks in artists’ lives: time; work; asking, money; fear; grief; other people; education; thinking and feeling; isolation; marketing, and death and God. These blocks all have a chapter of their own prefaced with a relevant and carefully selected quote, and a conclusion and list of further reading at the end of the book. This is a wonderful handbook of enthusiasms, epiphanies and support, both for those who have been involved within an art form for many years, and the perplexed who might be wondering where to begin. Pickens writes beautifully. She is both a fearless and arrestingly tender kind of writer whom one never doubts is rooting for artists everywhere. While her writing is warm and grounded, she is working at the margins of the sacred. I fervently hope that great things await this invaluable book, not least of all a wide and international readership. A huge thank you to @NetGalley and @ChronicleBooks for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kay-Leigh

    Books about making art have become a subgenre of their own. From Julia Cameron to Steven Pressfield, there is a lot out there to wade through as you try to take your own art seriously. I almost DNFed this as it fell a little short in comparison. The swearing was distasteful and unnecessary. And the initial chapters bored me. Pickens has real experience coaching and counselling many artists, which is valuable. She talks about money which is something most creatives despise doing. She encourages pe Books about making art have become a subgenre of their own. From Julia Cameron to Steven Pressfield, there is a lot out there to wade through as you try to take your own art seriously. I almost DNFed this as it fell a little short in comparison. The swearing was distasteful and unnecessary. And the initial chapters bored me. Pickens has real experience coaching and counselling many artists, which is valuable. She talks about money which is something most creatives despise doing. She encourages people to ask for help. She's not scared to talk about grief and she rejects the idea of the straving artist trope. I half-skimmed a few sections as they have been covered in other books on the topic. Chapter 8: Education perked my interest. Finally, someone is talking about how predetermined our options for higher education actually are. And admitting that an MFA is not a standard requirement! Then Chapter 9 challenges us to view our thoughts critically and not just accept every random, passing idea as truth. She says very clearly "We are not our thoughts". She goes on to reiterate an idea that Cameron also wrote about where the idea of god is defined as "good orderly direction". This idea apparently stems from the 12-step programme. In this chapter she links the concepts of death and god to each other. It was an interesting idea and I began to see that she is writing from a very particular philosophical view point. It is a counter-culture stand point that faces your imminent death as a daily and spiritual practice. Towards the end she offers many examples of art and artists that explore the themes she is discussing. She also gives a further reading list which is sometimes my favourite section of a book! While this was not the most practical or ground breaking work on the importance or practice of art, it did challenge my pre-conceived attitudes towards death, education and the creative process.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    I expected this to be a completely different book based on the title. The start of this book really pulled me in and spoke to a lot of the brain weasels I have surrounding art. However, it got less and less relevant as the book continued on, focusing on very specific issues. I didn’t expect a chapter on budgeting and finance, for example. I expected some tips on starting an art practice or keeping one going. The closest we got was in chapter one, where there were some suggestions on spending you I expected this to be a completely different book based on the title. The start of this book really pulled me in and spoke to a lot of the brain weasels I have surrounding art. However, it got less and less relevant as the book continued on, focusing on very specific issues. I didn’t expect a chapter on budgeting and finance, for example. I expected some tips on starting an art practice or keeping one going. The closest we got was in chapter one, where there were some suggestions on spending your time, though it didn’t go too far beyond take a day of rest. However, whose to say that if I give myself that time that I don’t piss it away? One of the things mentioned in the broad list of potential problems was remaining indecisive because you want to make sure to work on the “right” things but you can’t decide what the right thing is, so you ultimately do nothing. I was like, yeah, tell me how to fix that! Never touched, and that’s what was so frustrating. A whole list of relatable problems was plopped down in front of the reader straight away, and then we instead take a side street to asking for help, ridiculous suggestions to help a lack of impulse control with spending and social media, and the suggestion that we should all be acutely aware that we’re gonna die some day. And for my final complaint, as a book seemingly devoted to getting people over obstacles to working on art, there’s a chapter about marketing yourself, by making a website, social media account, email newsletter, etc. Someone needing those things sounds like they have their art practice fairly together to share a body of work. This, like many other topics, are relevant to artists in general, but seems out of place for the perceived purpose of this book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cass

    Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for sending me a digital copy in exchange for an honest review. Wow. Beth Pickens is a counsellor who focuses on working with artists, and her book has been compared to Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way for millenials. I can understand why - I got through one chapter of the latter, but found this book much more accessible. She gently but firmly guides the reader through chapters that will help them continue practising their art, no matter what medium. Things we Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for sending me a digital copy in exchange for an honest review. Wow. Beth Pickens is a counsellor who focuses on working with artists, and her book has been compared to Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way for millenials. I can understand why - I got through one chapter of the latter, but found this book much more accessible. She gently but firmly guides the reader through chapters that will help them continue practising their art, no matter what medium. Things we shy away from because of doubt, or lacking time or . . . Networking, ugh. Pickens provides a perspective that is friendly and honest, but also acknowledges her own identities and how they inform her view - where she has privelege and where she doesn't. Pickens notes that she may not be the right resource for some, but encourages you to seek out people who can speak to your experience. I loved this book, and will be buying a physical copy. I've screenshot so many pages that really struck a chord or made me challenge old thinking patterns about my own art. A couple of the exercises Pickens mentions made me pause. Or avoid them (ahem, the Ask list, anyone?) I did skip a chapter on death as I am not really in a place to ponder existential questions right now. " Your life is finite, and you should make your art. Things will get in the way and you should still make your art. Return to your art, over and over again."

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