Jerry Saltz is one of the most straight forward writers I have read in a while. He does not mince words in writing about art, artists, and the capacity that each individual has to create. “How to Be an Artist” acts as an inspirational guide and a kick in the ass for any aspiring artist who has doubts about their ability or worth. There are moments, throughout, where Saltz gets a little bit harsh, but being a critic himself, this is to be expected.
The book is not a blueprint for how to be an artist, but it does act as motivation to become a maker. “How to Be an Artist” is an expansion of the New York magazine article of the same name, which won Saltz an Ellie award in 2018, and continues to ruminate on the ideas presented within a larger (book format) frame. Adding to each section and step reveals more about the ideas that Saltz originally presented and allows the reader to delve deeper into personal creativity. Exercises provide direction for the reader and give artists the license to try out new techniques in a controlled fashion.
The ultimate theme of the book is one of action. For each individual to ‘do the work’. Stop thinking about it, mulling it over, letting those negative thoughts (demon voices) get the best of you and just DO IT. If you need someone to give you that push to create, I highly recommend picking up this book and then getting to work!