“To be an artist is to believe in life.” Henry Moore
I just finished reading Jerry Saltz’s new book How to Be an Artist for the third time, and I’m reading it again. (It’s a very short book, so this is no major feat.) As one of the art world’s most celebrated and passionate voices, Saltz has created an essential handbook for creative people of all kinds. By way of introduction, Saltz is senior art critic at New York magazine and winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Criticism.
Filled with rules, prompts, stories, quotes, exercises, tips and works of art, the book’s 63 brief essays (some just two paragraphs long) are divided into six sections. Over the next six weeks, I’ll provide you with a taste from each section. You may even develop an appetite to read the whole book.
Here are a few of Jerry’s opening thoughts:
He characterizes art as “a means of expression that conveys the most primal of emotions: lonesomeness, silence, pain, the whole vast array of human sensation. Art is also a survival strategy. For many artists, making their work is as important, spiritually, as breathing or eating.”
He defines “the creative process as an inexplicable, inspired, crystallizing place where the artist becomes an audience to his own work, almost not knowing where it came from.”
For aspiring artists, he makes this observation: “Nothing happens if you’re not working. But anything can happen when you are. Like exercise, working can be awful before you begin, but once you start, it feels good. Give your work at least as much time, thought, energy, and imagination as you do other aspects of your daily routine.”
Adapted from How to Be an Artist by Jerry Saltz