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Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking
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Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  27,886 ratings  ·  504 reviews
These are questions that matter, questions that recur at each stage of artistic development - and they are the source for this volume of wonderfully incisive commentary. Art & Fear explores the way art gets made, the reason it often doesn't get made, and the nature of the difficulties that cause so many artists to give up along the way. This is a book about what it fee ...more
Paperback, 122 pages
Published March 1st 1994 by Capra Pr (first published 1993)
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Deb Stone
There are three ways to earn five stars from me. I swooned over it the first time I read it, including the structure, theme, language, and readability; I find myself recommending the book to others because the book held its place in me for reasons I didn't notice at the time I first read it; or that I return to the book to reread, and in cases of nonfiction, make additional marks in the margins.

Art & Fear is the third type. I've read this book cover to cover four or five times. I have picked
...more
Carol
This book is about the challenges in making, or not making, art. Making art is difficult. Many times artists will stop making art and then feel guilty about not returning. Why? The is what the author says-- "Lack of confidence and self doubt -- I'm not an artist-- I'm a phony; other people are better than I am; I've never had a real exhibit; I'm no good. Or maybe fear about what others say after looking at your work. Basically the only work really worth doing-- the only work you can do convincin ...more
Timothy
It starts out strong, very strong, and then falls apart in a semantic entanglement of mixed metaphors and pseudo philosophy that spends a lot of words saying very little. It's a bit frustrating to read, the section on art and science was a disaster, perhaps demonstrating the authors complete lack of understanding of science. The two authors refer to "art" in such a flimsy pretext that they not only fail to define it, they change the implied definition to suit whatever point is being made but the ...more
Tiffany Gholar
Oct 28, 2012 Tiffany Gholar rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: artists
If you are in need of some motivation and don't have time to read The Artist's Way series (which, by the way, I also recommend), it's perfect for you. It addresses issues like perfectionism, creative blocks, and motivation. Here are some of my favorite quotes from it:




In large measure becoming an artist consists of learning to accept yourself, which makes your work personal, and in following your own voice, which makes your work distinctive.


If ninety-eight percent of our medical students were
...more
Leslie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chrissy
Sep 20, 2010 Chrissy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone in the world.
Recommended to Chrissy by: Jr
A quick, no-nonsense, part-philosophical-part-practical examination of what it means to make art, no matter the medium, and to continue to do so in spite of its inherent challenges. The authors' basic premise is that you can and will only ever be you, and all the other people in the world will also only ever be themselves. It might seem obvious, but the logical corollary here is that it is a pity to not make art because you are the only person who could ever make the art that you make. A second ...more
Tamra
Popular and familiar with my friends; it was my first read. Favorite passages:

"Art is like beginning a sentence before you know its ending...tolerance for uncertainty is the prerequisite to succeeding [at making art]."

"Talent...is 'what comes easily'... a gift" yet the author reminds us that "whatever you have is exactly what you need to produce your best work. There is probably no clearer waste of psychic energy than worrying about how much talent you have...Talent may get someone off the start
...more
Kayla Rae Whitaker
Depending upon where you may be in your particular process as an artist, "Art and Fear" can be a light in the dark for anyone desiring to take their work more seriously. Oftentimes, those who write, paint, sculpt or shoot fear discussing this topic with others, even other artists, at the risk of sounding pretentious or dull. To read this book, a slim, unassuming-looking little volume, is to feel freer in admitting: I am an artist, or writer. My work is important to me, even if it is unimportant ...more
Mellinga
I'm an artist. This book is absolutely terrible.

In the first chapter, the authors claim that that art came before consciousness and that prehistoric cave painters were not conscious beings. When they painted a bison on the wall, they had no idea what they were doing or why they were doing it. They didn't even know that they or the cave painting existed.

So how the hell do you unconsciously paint a bison? If the prehistoric artists lacked conscious intent to create the picture, what exactly would
...more
Mariya
This book was recommended to me and to all of my fellow art students by a professor, whose every word is normally golden. I must say this was the exception.

When this small pamphlet of a book was published in the early nineties, perhaps it answered an urgent need of recent art school grads and artists struggling to stay productive when faced with the loneliness of the process. It's still true, outside of the nurturing environment of art academia, the level of disinterest in art, and the artist's
...more
Sian Jones
The short review: I will be sleeping with this book under my pillow from now on. I find the very sight of its cover inspiring and must resist clutching it to my breast at all times like a talisman. The long review: The authors write that the book is the result of years of discussions about what artists -- regardless of the type of art -- have in common, and they come up with some very real, practical, and spiritual (in the best way) suggestions. The authors address the question of not "why do we ...more
Wendy
Sep 10, 2010 Wendy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who ever felt like a chicken shit
Recommended to Wendy by: Class
This book reminded my of Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, but without all the parts that totally pissed me off like typos, the expression of stupid ideas about artists (although in fairness she was pointing out the stupidness) and lame exercises.

This is about why we fear creativity and by understanding our fears, we can conquer them, as we all know.

I don't have a lot of fear about making art but many of the fears described in this book, such as pleasing others, being accepted and/or understoo
...more
Heather
This is a little gem of a book that I'd recommend to writers and artists of all stripes. A few sections, such as the one on the academic world, may not apply to everyone, but most of the insights are universal.
Julie
Good, comforting kernels of advice. I especially liked the emphasis on uncertainty, and how the ultimate key is to find nourishment within the work itself, as opposed to the finished product or its reception. I also really liked the chapter on art & academia, and the role of teaching and learning in terms of artmaking.

Sentences I particularly liked:
When you act out of fear, your fears come true. (23)
Not many activities routinely call one’s basic self-worth into question. (65)
Healthy artistic
...more
Elizabeth A
This little book is all about how you get over yourself, get out of your way and do what you gotta do. There are parts that that were relevant for me, and parts that were not, but overall one with wonderful insights, tips, and advice that would apply to everyone.
Tom Britz
Some very insightful comments on the making of art. Though the main focus was on art in general, they had some things to say that made perfect sense to the writers out there.
Peter Townsend
Great book about motivating the artist and the possible perils that come with the passion to be an Artist.
Joseph
Phenomenal book. Put into words my own feelings and experiences about making art. Showed me I'm not alone.
Scott Sedar
Helpful. The author's both live the life and share the problems with one another and the reader.
Margie Deeb
This is never far from my reach. It always inspires me and helps me stay focused
Tank Green
it was 'fun the first time' so i am re-reading to try to reinvigorate my sucky self.
Julie
I soaked up the first half of this slim guide with frequent shouts of "Yes! THIS!" and skimmed the second half with a bit of a shrug and a *meh* Isn't it odd when that happens? It's really okay, though, since I found so very much solace, empathy, and inspiration in the parts I did absorb. Things like,

. . . Those who continue to make art are those who have learned how to continue—or more precisely, have learned how not to quit.

This is a book about making art. Ordinary art. Ordinary art means so
...more
Octavio Solis
I found Art and Fear to be the right book for the right time. I'm a fairly successful and prolific playwright, but over the last year I have been struggling with severe writer's block. I've unable to even muster up the courage to look at a blank page or screen. The paralysis has affected my confidence and belief not only in my own abilities but also in the field I work in. What this book has shown me is that this lull is simply part of the process and I have to learn to interpret the fears I am ...more
Amber
I read this book as requirement for part of my art class; I found it a surprisingly easy read. It talks of the challenges todays artists face, it addresses every negative aspect that comes with being an artists, and makes you relies, whether your an artist or not, that you as an individual are full of self doubt. The author uses plenty of helpful examples to prove his point that people (artists especially) are consistently telling themselves their not good enough, some one else’s art is always ...more
Linnie
I could really relate to the first third of this book and found it very motivating as an artist. After that, it got less and less interesting and more and more vague. My favorite quotes/sections from the first part:

pg 3 "Even talent is rarely distinguishable, over the long run, from perseverance and hard work."

pg 5 "The function of the overwhelming majority of your artwork is simply to teach you how to make the small fraction of your work that soars."

pg. 15 "Imagination is in control whenyou be
...more
Antonia
I really enjoyed this for what it is, though some would no doubt think it full of platitudes. The authors address the obstacles and challenges in making art, any kind of art. My interest flagged a bit at the beginning of part 2, but was revived by the last two chapters.

There are many observations and reminders that we probably already know or believe, but it's always good to hear them again. For instance, the fact that meaning is something that you make, rather than find. It's a book about faci
...more
Anthony
If you know me, you know I write songs, a lot. I've written about three albums of solo material and one black metal EP, not a bad output (I would think?) for someone who's been doing this rather steadily for only about 5 years (although I wrote perhaps 20 songs in high school, but never did much with them). Enjoying the smell of my own farts aside, I definitely come across a common problem when I'm writing (or rather, trying to write) songs.

I often feel inhibited, have self-doubts, and worry ab
...more
Ashley
I bought this book in October of 2007 (my Half.com packing slip was still in the book cover when I opened it up to read it). I think it was "suggested reading" for one of my writing classes in college. I've moved this book around with me 5 times over the past 4.5 years and FINALLY decided to read it a few weeks ago. Thank God. I began reading this book 9 months after I decided to begin taking my desire to write and create seriously. This book has become my greatest encouragement as a "re-beginni ...more
Lisa King
I borrowed this from the library and after reading it I must say that I am giving serious thought to buying my own copy. The authors themselves are working artists and it took them years to write this book. It's well worth the wait. Even thought it's a slim volume at 118 pages, the thoughts and observations contained within are of great importance to artists. Flags peek out of the side of this book from all the passages I wanted to remember. I remember reading a negative comment about the book t ...more
Susan Pearce
Feb 10th:
I finished this a couple of days ago, having skipped through most of Part 2, which reads as though the authors dictated it while sipping long drinks and congratulating one another; it reads as though the publisher said, Come on, I can't publish something as slight as this [i.e. Part 1] and call it non-fiction. Please add to it. Which is a pity, because Part 1, apart from some wordiness, is full of lovely observations about art-making (as ranted over below). Part 2 is long-winded and bor
...more
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“Vision, Uncertainty, and Knowledge of Materials are inevitabilities that all artists must acknowledge and learn from: vision is always ahead of execution, knowledge of materials is your contact with reality, and uncertainty is a virtue.” 9 likes
“To the artist, all problems of art appear uniquely personal. Well, that's understandable enough, given that not many other activities routinely call one's basic self-worth into question.” 8 likes
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