Thursday, July 20, 2017

Real Artists Don't Starve by Jeff Goins

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book for the purpose of review. My integrity is not for sale. Those who know me well are aware a free book isn't enough to assuage my cutting honesty. If I've failed to write a bad review, it has nothing to do with the source of the material and only with the material itself.

Jeff Goins provides a really compelling, motivational guide to practicing art in the age of capitalism. His main focus is to counter the "starving artist" narrative with stories of people who make art on different terms. Real Artists Don't Starve captures the "new renaissance" by emphasizing key principles that artists can use to maximize their place in society.

I don't necessarily have a problem with this approach and certainly found some good ideas for my own art and life, however, Goins does present his perspective on art - namely that capitalism is a given and artists should be a part of it in very specific ways - as the only option (much as the title indicates). On page 145 he does raise the question of artists who genuinely don't care about money and practice their craft purely for their own enjoyment - however he fails to answer the question in any meaningful way, instead telling the story of a web designer who shifted his clientele from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses, because he enjoyed the work more.

There's also some lip service paid, in the final chapter, to alternative forms of community. He calls it "art as gift," in which people are rewarded for art in the same ways people value and reward the work of doctors, but there isn't a ton of depth here and he really does explain what he's talking about very well.

As I said, it's a great primer for artists attempting to live within capitalism and for that, I highly recommend, however, for anyone, like me,
who may not be looking at their art or their life in the same way, there's a lot left to be desired. I'm trained in theology, so I tend to think about these things theologically, but even in a practical sense, at least mentioning the notion of a national minimum wage - an economic theory that's becoming more popular - might be helpful, since one of it's main selling points is the freedom it provides for people to follow their passions and create.

I'll overlook one of my major pet peeves (using "creatives" as a noun to describe creative people) and commend Goins for the effort. He manages to provide a very standard, practical perspective on art that actually feels like art. It's a conventional book about art that won't turn artists off - which is certainly an accomplishment of sorts.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

No comments: