Art & Fear

"Most of what we inherit is so clearly correct it goes unseen. It fits the world seamlessly.  It is the world.  But despite its richness and variability, the well-defined world we inherit doesn't quite fit each one of us, individually.  Most of us spend most of our time in other peoples' worlds - working at predetermined jobs, relaxing to pre-packaged entertainment - and no matter how benign this ready-made world may be, there will always be times when something is missing or doesn't quite ring true.  And so you make your place in the world by making part of it - by contributing some new part to the set.  And surely one of the more astonishing rewards of artmaking comes when people make time to visit the world you have created.  Some, indeed, may even purchase a piece of your world to carry back and adopt as your own.  Each new piece of your art enlarges our reality.  The world is not yet done."

"'When bankers get together for dinner, they discuss Art.  When artists get together for dinner, they discuss money.'" - Oscar Wilde

"'When my daughter was about seven years old, she asked me one day what I did at work.  I told her I worked at the college - that my job was to teach people how to draw.  She stared back at me, incredulous, and said, "You mean they forget?"'" - Howard Ikemoto

"To make art is to sing with the human voice. To do this you must first learn that the only voice you need is the voice you already have."

“To the artist, all problems of art appear uniquely personal. Well, that's understandable enough, given that not many other activities routinely call one's basic self-worth into question.”

"The seed of your next art work lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece. Such imperfections are your guides – valuable, objective, non-judgmental guides to matters you need to reconsider or develop further.”  

David Bayles & Ted Orland


Bayles and Orland's book Art and Fear is a wonderfully poignant account of the emotions surrounding the art-making process.  It overviews the common missteps and assumptions art hopefuls and viewers make when regarding art, speaks to the need to make it, the false definition and motivation of talent, the fear of external and internal criticism, and the logistical difficulties of living life as an artist.  The book reassures that "talent" is a vapid term, merely an excuse for both art viewers and art makers to not appreciate the vast amounts of work required to make great work; talent deserves credit, not perseverance.  It voices the inevitable entanglement of the artist's identity in their work, preventing them from welcoming criticism, and further pushing them away from making their most personal, and best, work.  Laced with humor, this book is a highly enjoyable read for getting your wits about you in your art process.