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Your Art Will Save Your Life

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  512 ratings  ·  73 reviews
Writing in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, Beth Pickens reminds burgeoning artists that their work is more important now than ever, and advises on fostering creativity, sustaining an innovative practice, and navigating institutional funding as an individual. Partially a self-help book, partially a political manifesto, Pickens combines practical advice for ...more
Paperback, 136 pages
Published April 10th 2018 by The Feminist Press at CUNY
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  512 ratings  ·  73 reviews


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Julie Ehlers
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beth Pickens worked for nonprofits for years and then got a master's in counseling psychology, after which she mostly worked as a consultant for arts nonprofits, helping them raise money and figure out how to thrive, particularly in a country that can be weirdly hostile toward the arts. She also worked with artists/writers individually in the same way, counseling them through their insecurities, advising them on how to balance their creative work with all their other responsibilities (not to men ...more
Alyssa
Nov 04, 2018 rated it did not like it
This book was ok but what I found problematic was that it was far more a book about how to deal with the current trump administration and those who align with it while not getting depressed as an artist (or person). I picked up the book thinking it was about the nuanced issues that all artists face in the contemporary art world (and politics can certainly be one of those issues) but I felt little of this book was explicit advice for artists but just basic tips of emotional intelligence. And not ...more
Kari
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I read it one sitting, but I know I’ll go back to it again and again. Highly recommend for the creative person who wants to be more productive than they currently are, especially in this political climate!
Lizz
Aug 22, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was a little more intense/serious than I had expected it to be. That's not a knock, it just didn't end up being quite what I thought, nor exactly what I needed. I think the advice it contained is useful to a lot of folks, but it was a lot more than I needed and not all of it was relevant to my circumstances. That being said, there were some nuggets that I particularly appreciated and want to take to heart, like "fun is not optional and joy is not a luxury - this is an actual anti-burno ...more
Sarah
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I went to one of the Making Art During Fascism events that started this book and I'm so happy it is finally here for me to read and reread and do all the exercises in and generally love. It is vital to be reminded that making art is necessary to the maker and the larger world. Buy a copy for every artist you love.
Natalie
May 15, 2020 rated it liked it
I had higher expectatons from this book but I think it was just not for me. Overall it had some great ideas and it was a new persective for me.
Caitlin Kunkel
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A very useful, smart and moving little book. Definitely going to buy and recommend to artists in my life!
Karen
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Pickens works as a therapist, an artist, a grant writer, and an activist. This slim volume was written in the wake of Trump's 2016 election as a way for her to focus her energies on supporting artists in an era of political turmoil. Consequently, this will appeal to those who take a counter cultural approach to the role of the artist. Well, maybe not. Her advise is helpful for all types of artists, but those who are beholden to Trump might bristle at the book's occasional negative comments about ...more
Marianne Mullen
This book wasn't what I expected. It is a unique blend of artist self-help, motivation, kick in the ass combined with catalyzing social activism and political engagement. I really enjoyed it for both aspects!
Andee Marley
Sep 24, 2018 rated it liked it
I read this in bed on a Sunday morning in about an hour.

It's about the importance of creating art in the time of Trump and why it is worthwhile and important to keep creating.

Pickens is very knowledgeable and has the background to prove it. Loved hearing her voice.
Ashur
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, essays, health
Very timely; since there are useful exercises in it that I will complete slowly, I'm considering picking up a copy of my own.
Kris Patrick
I thought my sister Andee was being silly when she wrote that this book is about making art in the era of Trump. No, really. It is a book about making art in the era of Trump.
Candace Berger
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a great introduction to anyone looking to get their creative life on the right path, and for anyone doubting their creative life in the current political climate. It’s brief (I was able to read it in less than a day), but it is full of ideas on how to recondition your thoughts and practices.

The author calls this her love note to artists, and it is just that. It is an encouraging read.
Brittney
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Creating in a world that is literally burning is indescribably hard, especially when you’re neurodivergent, queer, and a woman. This book understands, and is like a realistic but hopeful pep talk with a friend who is also struggling but keeping it together. It helped me to remember that I do have a responsibility to my art, and that I do need to connect with other creative people.
Sarah Guldenbrein
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, making
This was wonderful, in a way, but also felt like it was written for Artists with a capital 'A'. I'm actively trying to develop an art practice, but I'm still not super comfortable with the identity of artist, since I didn't go to art school and it's not my goal for it to be my main source of income. Or any source of income, really. Also, the way Pickens writes about what makes an artist, namely, someone who processes the events around them through a creative practice, and someone who needs to cr ...more
Katrina Sark
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Self-Inventory

p.46 – Our jobs, educational experiences, and financial lives all intersect with the other parts of ourselves, including our social identities and internal characteristics. These different parts of ourselves are inextricably linked.
I am constantly amazed at the different stories artists share. Their stories are filled with themes of immigration, war, global economic shifts, social progress, political climates, family fractures, prison, white flight, migrations, risk, failure, and
...more
Patty
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
The author is not herself an artist, but she has found art necessary to her survival. Besides being an art lover, she works with artists as a therapist, consultant and grant writer, and she has particular concern for those struggling on the margins of society. In this little book are lots of things that artists need to hear often but in fact rarely - or sometimes never - do hear: that your work is important, that making it is legitimately necessary for you and also that it is needed by the world ...more
Tess Malone
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a great inspiration and kick in the pants for how and why to keep making art even as the world is crumbling. Pickens provides the emotional tools to give yourself this permission and practical suggestions of how to combine activism and art (or not). The most helpful section is a series of questions she has you ask about how the situation you were raised in affects how you view your practice, work, and goals. It really illuminated some of the pressures I put on myself and gave me new nuan ...more
Tara
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
I picked up this tiny little book at SFMoMA, although I'd been planning to buy it online for a while. 

The book can't be extricated from the Trump administration. There were times I found it hard to read because I'm still in denial of the all-consuming firestorm that is this administration. I wanted something more generalized, but it's still helpful. After all, a fascist is a fascist is a fascist and the problems are the same. 

Much of the book is just plain good advice for any creative. Stop comp
...more
Cooper
Dec 02, 2019 rated it did not like it
This is not a book for all artists; and it is almost not a book about art at all; if I wanted to read a book on politics and how the LGBTQ community feels about trump; than I would have bought a book on such a topic. The way this book reads suggests Beth is blinded by the little world she’s crafted for herself and cannot conceive of an individual who may disagree with her, LGBTQ or otherwise.

This book is misleading in title and blurb; and its content is indirectly self serving to Beth’s niche; t
...more
Maranda
Jul 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
i love you Beth for writing this!
Some of the time I felt like the book focused too much on Trump. I understand recognizing the role of artists in the current political climate, but her anger at Trump was sometimes distracting because like I'm angry too but I was reading this book for tips on cultivating practice, and dwelling on my anger really gets in the way of my creativity personally.
But to read it as an artist feels like a big boost of support. I'll come back to it again probably a few ti
...more
yipeng
Oct 31, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was written in response to the 2016 election in the aftermath of Trump’s presidency. It wasn’t what I expected the book to be after listening to Beth Pickens’ podcast, Mind Your Practice. The advice is more tailored to dealing with Trump’s presidency than being an artist. I found some tips to helpful but most of it is skippable in light of what’s currently happening (the COVID-19 pandemic and the US elections in the coming days).

I would recommend skipping this book and listening to Mi
...more
Kate
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As an artist who has struggled with personal creativity and purpose since the election, I desperately needed this book and will likely return to it again and again. She gets to the root of stifled creativity and how and why it’s so important to overcome those obstacles for yourself and for others. I highly recommend to anyone who expresses themselves creatively and/or is seeking direction in our current political climate.
Dessa
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2018s
Parts of this were useful and parts of it skimmed off me like water on a duck’s back. It’s good to read in terms of taking yourself seriously and knowing all the myriad ways our brains convince us to fall into imposter syndrome or procrastination, and some ways it might be possible to overcome this and build not only your own work but the vital work needed in resisting fascism and hatred towards vulnerable bodies on this earth.
Nari
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great guide for artists, meaning anyone who creates art whether they think of themselves as artists or not. Contains concrete guidance to the psychological pitfalls, how to start and grow an art practice, building community, art degrees, the world of grants, and how to incorporate activism in your art. Much of the activist notes therein are in response to the 2016 election—this book is partly about how to survive Trump.
Angie
Aug 05, 2020 rated it did not like it
I really really wanted to like this book. Sadly I'd say 80% of the book is high powered complaining and commenting on the Trump administration and LBGTQ stuff that has nothing to do with improving ones art. If that's what I wanted to hear, I d turn on the news. To be fair, when she finally gets to the point of what the book is supposed to be about- there are some gold nuggets of wisdom. Just be prepared to wade through the 80 percent to get there.
Sara
Jun 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Some of this was useful. I felt that it applied more to visual artists than to writers. If you’re feeling particularly discouraged as an artist under the Trump regime, this does make clear that there are many others feeling the same. Otherwise, a lot of the advice about sharing your work— was not very useful for me but would be for other I think.
Chris Meinke
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
A call to arms to creatives trying to survive the Trump administration. Timely and full of practical advice for making your art, navigating the current political and social environments, and taking care of yourself so you can accomplish all of the above. A great read for anyone who finds themselves despairing as they scroll through their social media feeds.
Megan
May 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
A bit disjointed. The beginning and end focused very heavily on the 2016 election outcomes and felt like a general pep talk for activism. The middle, though, seemed like the practical minutiae of being an artist/writer that the author already had sitting on her hard drive. Different people will probably find different sections the most useful, but I enjoyed the middle advice the most.
Angie
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
A counselor who works with artists provides a summary the common issues facing an artist and gives
a sincere pep talk on why you should keep at it. You see you're certainly not alone with your "not enough time, money, etc" reasoning. And her advice for artists to create IRL community was galvanizing. A helpful, sincere read.
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