Art & Fear

Idealism has a high casualty rate. The chances are… that if you’re an artist, you’re also a student… most people stop making art when they stop being students. p. 85

Art & Fear

Your life is a paradigm of the process of being an artist, a witness and record to the way time and circumstance, event and emotion, courage and fear surround the making of art. p. 83

Art & Fear

… art has the dubious distinction of being one profession in which you routinely earn more by teaching it than by doing it. p 81

Art & Fear

… most [art] schooling gives every appearance of being not only destructive to the individual, but irrelevant to the great sweep of history as well. Horror stories abound. We’ve all been emotionally singed by some counterpart of the third grad teacher who told certain kids they sang so badly… or some art history teacher who dismissed Rock ‘n Roll… p.80

Art & Fear

… if the artist stands as an endangered species in the face of contemporary economics and marketing, we are face with a perplexing question: why does the myth of the individual artist—the loner following his own heart—arise so predictably with each new generation? One possible answer is suggested by looking at the things that have made art worth doing in the past. Work that was driven by issues arising from the relationship between the artist and the work, or the artist and the materials, or the artist and the subject matter, rings true. Such work, regardless of whether it fits with then contemporary attitudes, seems to continue to make sense over time. p. 76

Art & Fear

Artists… are a crafty lot, and surprisingly adept at getting the system to foot the bill for letting them do exactly what they wanted to do anyway. p. 74

Art & Fear

Fear that you’re not getting your fair share of recognition leads to anger and bitterness. Fear that you’re not as good as a fellow artist leads to depression… Obsessive competitors simply equate rank with self—a chancy gambit… p. 72

Art & Fear

It’s easier to rate artists in terms of the recognition they’ve received… And when that happens, competition centers not on making work, but on collecting the symbols of acceptance and approval… p. 71

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Art & Fear

The urge to compete provides a source of raw energy, and for that purpose alone it can be exceptionally useful. In a healthy artistic environment, that energy is directed inward to fulfill one’s own potential… artists are not in competition with each other. Unfortunately, healthy artistic environments are about as common as unicorns. p. 71

Art & Fear

Finding your place in the art world is no easy matter, if indeed there is a place for you at all… someone besides you is deciding which art—and which artists—belong in it. p. 70

Art & Fear

One of the ordinary problems artists face is finding a way to make peace with the arts network and the issues it holds dear. Not necessarily joining it, mind you—just making peace with it. At least you need to if you want assurance your work will likely be shown, published or performed in any reasonable length of time. p. 70

Art & Fear

By leading the viewer to experience the world through the very different sensibilities of the artist, a good work of art inevitably calls the viewer’s own belief system into question. Is this threatening?… The more effective the art, the more likely the viewer’s first reaction will be anger and denial—followed immediately by a search for someone to blame… the artist is the most likely candidate… p. 67

Art & Fear

The hardest part of artmaking is living your life in such a way that your work gets done, over and over—and that means, among other things, finding a host of practices that are just plain useful. p. 61

Art & Fear

For most artists, making good art depends on making lots of art, and any device that carries the first brushstroke to the next blank canvas has tangible, practical value. p. 61

Art & Fear

The details of artmaking we do recognize tend to be hard-won practical working habits, and recurrent bits of form that we can repeatedly hang work on. p. 60

Art & Fear

Most of the myriad of steps that go into making a piece (or a year’s worth of pieces) go on below the level of conscious thought, engaging unarticulated beliefs and assumptions about what artmaking is. p. 59

Art & Fear

The dilemma every artist confronts, again and again, is when to stick with familiar tools and materials, and when to reach out and embrace those that offer new possibilities. p. 59

Art & Fear

One of the best kept secrets of artmaking is that new ideas come into play far less frequently than practical ideas—ideas that can be reused for a thousand variations… p. 56