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Things Are What You Make of Them: Life Advice for Creatives

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  1,236 ratings  ·  154 reviews
Insights and inspiration for anyone who makes art (or anything else), from the popular author of 1 Page at a Time and Pick Me Up
From the creative mind and heart of Adam J. Kurtz comes this quirky, upbeat rallying cry for creators of all stripes. Expanding on a series of popular guides he's created for Design*Sponge, this handwritten and heartfelt little book shares wisdo
Paperback, 144 pages
Published October 3rd 2017 by Tarcherperigee
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Average rating 4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,236 ratings  ·  154 reviews

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Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
i wrote this book i think it is very nice i like that the author doesn't try to act like he's the expert or better than anybody else, he's just really honest about what life is like for people who try to make things. <3 also he seems very handsome and tall <3 ...more
May 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm a fan of pretty much everything Adam does, so I'll admit that I went into this expecting I'd like it, but it was even better than I expected. As he always does, Adam provides the perfect mix of wit and inspiration. If you're a creative person (or just a person in general...), you'll wanna read this book! ...more
Emma Sea
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
very very short. these were probably more awesome in their original blog form than as a book
Mrs Mommy Booknerd
This book is just what I needed because I realized a while ago that I was becoming a negative person overcome by all the bad things happening around me and in the world. It was hard to see the goodness day-to-day and I did not like the person I was becoming. I have been practicing re-framing and my life is looking a whole lot more positive. This book was the perfect companion to my new outlook on life. I loved it cover to cover and have reread it several times, took notes and shared it with thos ...more
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
(ARC from publisher)

I found the advice mostly obvious, and the voice a bit too jargon-y/commercial-art-y for my tastes. YMMV. But since what I want from self-help-y books is novel insight and/or eloquent prose, I wasn't thrilled with this one.
Frances Thompson
Wanted to love it but found it a bit underwhelming with nothing startling or new (as a freelance creative writer for 6+ years), but it was easy to read and will look forward to passing on to someone new to the game!
Jan 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Always read a creative self-help zine thingie at the beginning of the year as a recharge. Some good stuff and delightfully messy.
Nikita Gomes
May 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
It took me more than 1 sitting to read this book because I wanted to SAVOUR IT....
Caiti S
Jul 04, 2019 rated it liked it
The creative advice was too simple to have much of an impact on me.
Mallika Mahidhar
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Simple and effective.
2018 Read Harder Challenge: A one-sitting book. I get so much out of reminders like these. And although I still look askance at the word "creative" used as a noun, a lot of this advice really spoke to me, especially "be more of your own best" and "maybe try trying." I really liked the Acknowledgments, the "Working with Friends & Family" section, and of course, the colorful design. Consider this a great little gift book. The pages are even perforated so you can put your favorites in a visible pla ...more
Jan 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
"Sometimes, some of us, maybe, possibly, talk about doing things & then don't do them. Hold yourself accountable for your fresh start. Don't let planning the thing trick your brain into thinking you've done it."

There are lessons we've known by heart for years and end up forgetting when needed the most due to frustration. "Things Are What You Make of Them" by Adam J. Kurtz is the perfect companion for those moments when the 'end of all things' seems ominously inevitable.

Straightforward yet though
Kaylea Stoeltzing
For the exhausted full-time employee and full-time passionate.

I was in love with this quick and witty read. After a year slump with my art I'm fjnally getting back into the swing of things but in the process, juggling a full-time day job (with a lot of extra overtime). I admit sometimes I struggle getting caught up with housework trying to develop my own business plans and not crash on the couch after the 9-5-. This is literally the perfect pick me up for any Creative I know!!! Especially on the
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book and Adam J. Kurts illustrations are personal to me, in a way that I think we are all meant to be. I know, this is nonsense.

Non-related review of this book, when I went to pick up this book at the local bookstore, there was a book party on cocktail recipe books. I ended up drinking glasses of delicious salted watermelon cocktail and went home all smily.

Everything is going to be great.
Mugren Ohaly
Oct 16, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2017
Creativity “self-help” books are the new poetry anthology, everyone is writing one and they’re almost all the same regurgitated crap.

Plus, the author gave his own book a 5-star review and obviously thinks way too highly of himself.
Britten Thompson
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
A good book to have in your collection as a reminder and motivation aid, but there is nothing ground breaking or profound here.
Sep 14, 2018 rated it liked it
(2.5 stars) I liked the small size of this book and how you could tear out the pages to hang by your workspace or give to a friend that needs encouragement. But I found the book itself to be difficult to read because the pages did not want to bend and stay open. I had to practically break the spine just to be able to read it! The book was a tad simplistic in design (I think illustrations and variations in page styles and fonts would make it more interesting).
I think my favorite part was the Ackn
Oct 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: improve-yourself
This book was filled with cute, colorful, and uplifting blurbs and words of wisdom for creatives. It's the sort of book you can flip through every now and then when you need to refocus. The pages are all perforated so you can tear out the musings that truly speak you if you like and paste them around your house, journal, etc, through I'll be keeping it as is and looking back into it often when I need to motivate myself or overcome a work slump. It's geared towards artists, though it applies to a ...more
Alexis Johnson
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This one didn't quite resonate with me as much as Austin Kleon's similar books, but I definitely recommend it as a quick and energizing pep talk for creatives who feel stuck. It'll get the wheels moving again. :-) ...more
Tim Belonax
Nov 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-reads
I’d recommend this little book as a gift to any recent graduate or someone that’s just hit their 3-year mark in their creative career.

The wit of the book helps its wisdom go down smoother. Bravo, Adam.
Anya Toomre
Jul 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Pithy useful advice but easy to have go in one ear and out the other. I would retain the suggestions better if I had a challenge on hand to solve and made specific choices based on the suggestions of ways to approach things, and wrote my answers down.
Weronika Zimna
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was absolutely delightful and exactly what I needed.
2.5 stars. What it says on the tin.
Baber Ali
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The texture its been written in is s9 attractive. Secondly the messages are breif and short so one does not find it boring or long so i would prefer it if you are just starting reading.
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Magic. Not just for creatives.
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: but-i-own-it
Good life advice for any humans doing anything!
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
I liked this. Some of the advice is obvious, some of it isn't. Either way they're nice reminders and applicable to a lot of things beyond just starting your own (creative) business or side hustle. The book is deceptively short and has a lot of information to digest. I think it might be one better for "coffee table" style browsing than reading once. ...more
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Such a nice, positive, honest lil read. Adam shares great advice for creatives, some of it obvious, some of it less so, all of it thoughtful and gently presented. Lots of good reminders in here, and I can see myself revisiting it in the future!
Chris Clay
Aug 19, 2018 rated it liked it
A little gem, full of good information and reminders doled out in digestible bites. I read it cover to cover and will probably buy a copy to pick-up and nibble at when I need a little creative boost or fortification.
Beatriz Andrea Fernandez
I have been a fan of Adam J Kurtz's work since "1 Page at A Time" and I have been a fan of his column for a while. This book came while I was struggling with my own creative endeavors, and I purchased it in the desperate hope that it would alleviate my worries. It didn't. But it fairness to it and Mr. Kurtz, that's a lot of ask of any book. It doesn't discount the fact that the advice it contains is solid, realistic, and good. Kurtz's optimism and and warmth are also hugely apparent and cushion ...more
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Adam J. Kurtz (aka @adamjk) is an artist and author whose illustrative work is rooted in honesty, humor and a little darkness. His books have been translated into over a dozen languages and his work has been featured in the New Yorker, VICE, Adweek and more.

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