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I pre-ordered a copy of Jeff Goins Real Artists Don’t Starve last week and had a chance to sit down and read it when I was house sitting for a friend.
Before I begin my review let me just say this is not one of those “YOU CAN DO IT!” books where you feel exhilarated and motivated after you read it. This is one of those books that starts by pumping you up, then it hits you in the gut with your own failures by showing you all the times when you could have been successful with your art, but weren’t.
This makes book makes you reflect on all of the missed opportunities you had. It confronts you with your sloth and cowardice. That’s what it did to me. The worst part is that Jeff Goins doesn’t write to offend or accuse. He is a competent writer with an academic style, using historical narratives from many different artists to make his points. In many ways this book feels like a book of history.
The book strikes a cord.
Essentially, Real Artists Don’t Starve debunks the myth of the starving artist. The person who must suffer financially for their art because they have no audience to sell too, or the market is too crowded and depresses prices, or whatever reason society offers for why artists aren’t well off.
Jeff Goins breaks the book into three sections. Mindset, Market, and Money. Goins covers everything from defining patrons and finding mentors to giving you permission to steal liberally and knowing when to sell out.
This book is cogent, thoughtful, and intelligent.
Jeff Goins redefines what a mentor is and what a patron is, for our modern audience. He makes the elegant argument that genius happens in groups. After reading this book, you will be compelled to re-evaluate your art, but your approach to the business of your art.
See, too many people have accepted the lie that to be a great artist you need to sequester yourself in a cave with your art tools and slave away in obscurity. That the only way to mastery is to abandon the world, normative society, and your loved ones so you can dedicate yourself to your art.
At the same time, the renown artists crave for can only had if artist leave their cave. (And, Goins has a word for those artists who say “I don’t
crave that stuff. I make art for me.”) How can the world enjoy your work if you never tell us about it? How can you earn a living as an artist if you never know your worth?
The Lies about Art
All of the bad mojo, the misconceptions and outright lies about art and business of art are confronted here in a nice volume just over two hundred pages. I read this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. I found myself fist pumping in the air at times while sitting in shock during others. It is that good.
I really enjoyed all of the historical research Jeff Goins did for this book. He had anecdotal stories from artists as varied as Michelangelo to
Earnest Hemingway to Dr. Dre. He talked about Paris in the 1920s and Silicon Valley in the 1980s. He showed me the business sides of artists and struck a cord.
Right now there is no paperback copy. You can get it in hardback or as an e-book. If you consider yourself an artists, or know an artists, get this book. But be warned: Your conceptions about art will be challenged and you might find yourself re-evaluating some of your life choices. I know I did.
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