Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking is one of those books that exemplifies the saying, "brevity is the soul of wit." In print, the book is a scant 130 pages while, as an audiobook, it can be devoured in three hours. However, the prose is beautifully composed, almost poetic in its sense of flow. It's obvious that many hours were spent revising this book until it reached this polished final phase. So the artistry that went into the book contrasts with its ultimate message which is very pragmatic.
Bayles and Orland, the two authors, go into the issues that artists face when producing artwork, the major one being fear. Artists are afraid of many things—of being misunderstood, of producing bad work, of not being worth much as human beings or as artists. Often, the fear gets to be too much, and the artist stops making art altogether.
However, Bayles and Orland believe that it's the process of making art which holds all the answers. If you're dedicated and you pursue the art with all that you have, it will give you the answers you're looking for. You'll discover who you are as a person and as an artist by actually doing the work. They insist that the majority of work that most artists do is actually not that good. Only a small portion of it is good, and by working more, you learn to do more of that kind of work.
Overall, this is a gem that belongs on the bookshelf of every artist, whether s/he is already established or just beginning his/her career. It's an inspiration for when you're feeling blocked and provides some time-tested techniques to get past that feeling. It is full of encouragement as well as good advice.
David Bayles grew up in Colorado and Texas, going to school at the University of Colorado where he studied Sociology and Philosophy. He also went to graduate school for Sociology but realized that he wanted to be an artist and took up photography. He was greatly influenced by Ansel Adams, using his books to teach himself to shoot and spent the 80s doing commercial photography. He is currently a conservationist working for the Pacific Rivers Council.
Ted Orland went to USC where he studied Industrial Design. Like Bayles, he was greatly influenced by Ansel Adams; he took a workshop with Adams and ended up working as his workshop assistant. He also got a Master's in Interdisciplinary Creative Arts from San Francisco State University and started teaching. He has taught at Stanford, the University of Oregon and a number of workshop centers.
What is your art really about? Where is it going? What stands in the way of getting it there?These are questions that matter, questions that recur at each stage of artistic development-and they are the source for this volume of wonderfully incisive commentary. Art & Fear explores the way art gets made, the reasons it often doesn't get made, and the nature of the difficulties that cause so many artists to give up along the way.This is a book about what it feels like to sit in your studio or classroom, at your wheel or keyboard, easel or camera, trying to do the work you need to do. It is about committing your future to your own hands, placing free will above predestination, choice above chance. It is about finding your own work. Download and start listening now!