I’ve been working through some books as a source of learning as I teach myself to draw. Most of these books are on more practical matters like inking techniques or perspective. But I decided to also read some softer, more thoughtful books. I looked around for options and found Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. The book is an exploration of the ways people corrupt or destroy their artistic side through fear and doubt.
At this point I’ve been drawing daily and have experienced many of the fears discussed in the book.
Will I ever be any good?
What is the point of this?
Does anyone care?
What if I get bored and stop?
Art & Fear offers practical advice and encouragement to help you keep going. The book can’t magically remove your fears but it can help you see that they are normal. It offers ways to get past them. It can help you move your mindset in a direction that is more conducive to making art without fear.
My biggest gripe about the book was how school-centric some sections of the book came across to me. If I understand correctly, both authors are university teachers, so there’s no surprise. While the authors talk about many faults in artistic schooling, they mostly take schooling for granted. They lament how many art students end up quitting after leaving school, saying in Chapter VII, “most people stop making art when they stop being students.” Yet, the authors focus on problems in schools rather than fully questioning art schoolings necessity. Perhaps instead of addressing problems in art schools, we should address why we think we need them. The book was published in 1993 though, so I’ll chalk it up to that.
Art & Fear is a short read. It’s 118 pages with large print. It’s broken down into short, easily digestible sections and is very approachable. I read the whole thing, cover to cover, in a few hours.
I’d recommend this book to anyone who makes or wants to make art. But, I’d also recommend it to anyone who does work that could be considered craft as well. I think programmers in particular might get something out of this.