in review

art & fear


Part of an artist’s job is to stay informed about the world around them...and one of the best ways to do that is to read as much material, as often as you can. I happened upon a wonderful book titled Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking on a dusty used bookshop shelf a few days before we determined the theme of this issue. So naturally, when we decided on The "Fear" Issue, I knew it was meant to be.

Art & Fear bluntly addresses many of the obstacles us “ordinary artists” (i.e., non-mozarts, as the authors put it) face everyday. It gives the reader a sense of value in his or her work, validity as an artist, and ever-so-helpful practical advice on navigating the ins and outs of the industry. From beginning to end, it’s chock full of passages that inspire the reader along with a heavy dusting of quips that are sure to give a good laugh. When you read this book, you know you’re not alone in your struggle as an artist. Authors Bayles and Orland put into words that “aghhh” feeling we all get when we hit a creative wall, and give plenty of helpful tips on how to overcome it.

I found the following excerpts to be among some of the most powerful:

“The line between an artist and his/her work is a fine one at best, and for the artist it feels (quite naturally) like there is no such line. Making art can feel dangerous and revealing. Making art is dangerous and revealing. Making art precipitates self-doubt, stirring deep waters that lay between what you know you should be, and what you fear you might be. ” -pg 13

“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. Art work is ordinary work, but it takes courage to embrace that work, and wisdom to mediate the interplay of art and fear. Sometimes to see your work’s rightful place you have to walk to the edge of precipice and search the deep chasms. You have to see that the universe is not formless and dark throughout, but awaits simply the revealing light of your own mind. Your art does not arrive miraculously from the darkness, but is made uneventfully in the light.” -pg 117

To get your own copy of Art & Fear, just go to Or, to make sure you get that ‘old book’ smell and a few bonus chuckles from previous readers’ notes, just peruse every single hole-in-the-wall used bookshop in LA until either you happen across it or the soles of your shoes wear out. Personally, I’d choose the latter, but if you want to be predictable and select free two-day shipping at checkout because you have an amazon prime membership and hate walking, I guess I can’t stop you. Good luck and happy book hunting, yo.

written by: taylor byers