Are you a writer, actor, photographer, artist or creative who is grappling with what it means to pursue your art? If so, Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking may be just what you need. Art & Fear (Image Continuum, 2018) was written by David Bayles and Ted Orland, both practicing artists.
In their introduction, Bayles and Orland state that the book is about making ordinary art, meaning art that is not made by Mozart. In fact, they observe, most art is not made by geniuses, but is made all the time by ordinary people. The act of making art is a common and intimately human activity.
The book is comprised of a collection of essays. Part One explores what holds us back and why we struggle with our creativity, with topics such as The Nature of the Problem, Art & Fear, Fears About Yourself, Fears About Others, and Finding Your Work. Part Two grapples with what to do once you’ve faced your fears and created, with topics like The Outside World, The Academic World, Conceptual Worlds, and The Human Voice.
A favorite takeaway is that what separates artists from ex-artists is not quitting. Those who challenge their fears are less likely to quit. Also, art making is not predictable, and tolerance for uncertainty is required to succeed. They end with the observation that to make art is to sing with the human voice. The only voice the artist needs is their own, which can be found between the interaction of dark and light, fear and art. I recommend reading this slim book whether you’re an artist or someone who just wants to explore their creativity. Read it especially when you’re faltering, ready to quit, or discouraged. Then get out there and make some art!