Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking” as Want to Read:
Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  42,221 Ratings  ·  636 Reviews
"This is a book about making art. Ordinary art. Ordinary art means something like: all art not made by Mozart. After all, art is rarely made by Mozart-like people; essentially statistically speaking there aren't any people like that. Geniuses get made once-a-century or so, yet good art gets made all the time, so to equate the making of art with the workings of genius remov ...more
ebook, 122 pages
Published April 1st 2001 by Image Continuum Press (first published 1993)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Deb Stone
Jan 08, 2016 Deb Stone rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I've read this book cover to cover four or five times. I have picked it up and opened a random page to read on dozens of occasions. I reread the margin notes that I've written at various times.

What I love about this book is that it uses art to talk about life. Specifically, it uses art and fear to talk about how our choice to have courage or not drives the degree of light you will manifest in your own life. The writers explore the human need for acceptance, fear of failure, communication sensibi
Feb 01, 2009 Timothy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 really liked it  ·  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 wer
Apr 09, 2011 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: making-art
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
Mar 11, 2016 Leslie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-we-own, faves
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 20, 2010 Chrissy rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jun 29, 2013 Mellinga rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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]."

" '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
Dec 15, 2008 KW rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 31, 2012 Mariya rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art-method
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
Dec 09, 2009 Linnie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sian Jones
Mar 08, 2013 Sian Jones rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, writing
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
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.
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
Sep 10, 2010 Wendy rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jacob Russell
Aug 27, 2015 Jacob Russell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Have never read anything better on what goes into making art, for an artist. The motivations, the distracting temptations--what constitutes the only possible reward to keep at it, to keep doing it. I'm a 74 year old artist, and have gone through all the phases of despair, stopping, starting again. This book made me weep with joy. I don't know that I found much new here, new for me at this stage in my life and my art, but the confirmation for what I've struggled with over so many decades is like ...more
Kat (Lost in Neverland)

A short, surprisingly encouraging novel for artists of all sorts. It can apply to writing, painting, drawing, graphic design, music, etc. Highly recommended for anyone struggling with doubt in their artwork. In the inspiring words of Shia;

Aug 28, 2014 Caroline rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
The few couple of chapters are very helpful for anyone trying to keep on, or restart, making any kind of art. The rest, aimed at full-time, professional artists (of any type) I found too dependent on shaky metaphors, misunderstanding of science and history, and filler.
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.
Feb 15, 2016 Kristina rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was assigned to me for my Drawing class.

Some of the concepts are useful, and there were some very good points made. However, it felt as if the authors were trying to stretch a five-page essay into a book; it was redundant and, after the first chapter, waffling.

It also seemed as though the book was aimed specifically towards artists looking to showcase their pieces in galleries, which isn't necessarily a failing of the book so much as a narrow target demographic.

On a more personal lev
Sep 27, 2014 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jun 30, 2015 robyn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: artists
Mostly I thought, this took 10 years to write?

Or, okay, that's not accurate. It was developed over 10 years? It's a very thin pamphlet!

It's one of those self-help (ish) books that's full of a lot of self-evident truths, with here and there an interesting application or thought. I believe it's aimed primarily at fine artists; if you're working just for your own satisfaction, or directly for a client, a lot of the obstacles described in the book aren't going to pertain to you. For instance. Unles
Tom Britz
Mar 31, 2013 Tom Britz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 03, 2016 Shaymaa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art
"Why do so many who start, quit?"
this book simply talks about what is art making and the what is the daily challenges that faces the artists everyday during making art like perfectionism, vision, imagination, acceptance, validation and most importantly quitting. it offers some really useful advice along the way especially to young artists.

"To make art is to sing with the human voice. To do this you must first learn that the only voice you need is the voice you already have."
the only thing i hate
Peter Townsend
Aug 26, 2013 Peter Townsend rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book about motivating the artist and the possible perils that come with the passion to be an Artist.
Jun 11, 2013 Joseph rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Phenomenal book. Put into words my own feelings and experiences about making art. Showed me I'm not alone.
Scott Sedar
Aug 09, 2013 Scott Sedar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Helpful. The author's both live the life and share the problems with one another and the reader.
Margie Deeb
Apr 02, 2010 Margie Deeb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is never far from my reach. It always inspires me and helps me stay focused
Tank Green
Feb 23, 2009 Tank Green rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
it was 'fun the first time' so i am re-reading to try to reinvigorate my sucky self.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Trust the Process
  • The Art Spirit
  • The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life
  • Drawing from Memory
  • Seven Days in the Art World
  • It Chooses You
  • The Artist's Guide: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love
  • Hawthorne on Painting
  • Andy Goldsworthy: A Collaboration with Nature
  • Art Through the Ages
  • M.C. Escher: The Graphic Work
  • The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt
  • Concerning the Spiritual in Art
  • I'd Rather Be in the Studio!: The Artist's No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion
  • The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: 14 Amazing Authors Tell the Tales
  • The Lost Painting
  • Daybook: The Journal of an Artist
  • ART/WORK: Everything You Need to Know (and Do) As You Pursue Your Art Career

Share This Book

“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.” 16 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.” 13 likes
More quotes…