I guess you could call me an aspiring art critic, an admirer of Clive Bell and Frida Kahlo reincarnated with a dash of Rococo.

  • Alexia Morris

How to be an artist by Jerry Saltz- Review

Jerry Saltz's book on 'How to be an Artist' is essentially a guidebook for the majority of people exploring careers in the arts. This being photographers, designers, painters and even writers (hi there). His style of writing is fluid and engaging as he goes through, page by page, the tips and obstacles one needs to be aware of going into the vast desert that is the art world. Jerry Saltz is an art critic and one that I have admired greatly over the past couple of years, his voice is really projected in the way he writes. There's a sense of informality which seemingly draws in the reader as if they're talking to an old friend. The book consists of 63 points guiding the reader through different stages, for example, my personal favourite being stage 5, 'Survive the Art World'. Point 52: How to deal with rejection. That's something which I have only just started to understand. No, I haven't started my career so I do not have any 'proper' experience but through my readings at university and admiring the works of the Impressionists I have noticed a particular necessity for working in the Art World, recovery. Saltz honestly highlights the truth of rejection and the obligatory skill of acceptance and growth. He mentions accepting criticism and using it to help you personally grow or improve, he writes: "take it in; don't blow it out of proportion; then get back to work." Truthful brutality. Artists live in their own world, with their own independent understanding of the world around them, so his honesty is sobering. Dreams are undoubtedly sugarcoated and I know that it's my dream to enter the diversity of the art world, but the fact of the matter is that it takes persistence, patience and personal growth.

As I said Saltz has a clear and individual voice, one that I was drawn to and one that I really admire, in point 22 he talks about finding your own voice. He refers to artist Philip Guston and how in the 60s he decided to steer away from abstract expressionism, his original style, to a more definitive and characteristic representation of essentially what he sees. Fellow artists out there, I'd really receommend this book. It's short, to the point and really helpful. The quote that stuck with me the most was when Saltz referred to art critic Harold Rosenberg who advises artists:" If you have no ideas, draw... If you are depressed, draw; if you get drunk, go home and start a picture. If there is shooting outside the window, go on drawing."

Grayson Perry comments about this book saying:" I wish I had read these rules forty years ago and carried them around like a bible." Well I am only 20 so I think I have now found my bible.

Witty, relatable, readable and I would highly recommend to every kind of artist or art lover out there.

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My name is Alexia and I am 20 years old. I am currently studying History of art at Oxford Brookes University and found that it has inspired me to really look at art with a different eye. I follow a critic called Jerry Saltz on Instagram and through reading his work and looking at the writings of Vasari and Clive Bell I have realised that I have an extreme love for writing and talking about art. I do paint in my spare time and have always loved it but I have always found it so interesting to learn new things about artists. I remember learning about the life of Toulouse-Lautrec when I wrote about Women at their 'toilette' for my A-level coursework and being completely fascinated by his absinthe addiction and what he got up to. When you find out about the life and personality of an artist it really changes your opinion on their works which is not necessarily a good thing but it is something which is completely relevant. When I learnt about The Bloomsbury group and how they intended to dissociate form, colour and lines with a subject matter I learnt this new way of observing art. I always find that keeping an open mind no matter how hard it may be is the only way to fully and truly appreciate a piece, so that is what I intend to use this blog for.


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