Most helpful positive review
245 of 252 people found the following review helpful
Learning to Drive Your Creative Engine
on December 28, 2005
I was fortunate to be able to read the proofs of Danny's new book, "Creative License: Giving Yourself Permission to Be the Artist You Truly Are."
First a disclaimer: Danny is a pal. We've corresponded, chatted on the phone, he's visited, we have drawn together. You could stop reading this right now because of that, expecting a bias.
But I also am a life long journaler and I teach visual journaling at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts and in a variety of workshops in the schools, so I read almost all the books that come out in this field. I like to provide up to date recommendations for my students.
I think both these things put me in an interesting position to tell you something: reading this book is just like spending time with Danny. His sense of humor comes through. He is silly and playful, wry and sarcastic by turns, but always engaging. Something is always popping out of his brain. He's gathered all this up and put it in a book. And he wants to encourage you to draw and tap into your creativity.
There are a lot of books on creativity on the market. Some of them try cheerleading and cajoling, some encourage you through psychology, and others practically shame you into picking up your art materials. Danny's approach is different. Like the great pitch man he is, he creates an analogy (creative license is like a driving license) and then joyfully explains and expands until you want in. The nice thing about this approach is that you don't end up with two dozen vegematics in your attic like Opus. You'll end up with a visual journal that records what's important to you and you'll be more connected to your life.
Danny's book is organized in such a manner that it can be read straight through or dipped into. There's an introduction which establishes the groundwork for you to view yourself as a creative being. The driving license analogy is introduced here.
This is followed by nine chapters which deal with everything from how to draw (giving you instructions for exercises to get you up and running today) to shock (getting out of a rut), resistance (going on), and identity (self acceptance as an artist). (And lots more.)
Each chapter is further divided into smaller sections, often only a page spread or two, dealing with some aspect of the chapter topic. These sub sections read like brief meditations, parables, or pep talks.
I feel this type of organization is one of the best aspects of the book. It allows the reader to come back to the book for small tune ups so he can get back on the road (keeping with the driving metaphor).
Throughout the book Danny provides his readers with suggestion upon suggestion of things they might want to draw, examine, think about, or respond to. If you are new to drawing, visual journaling, or doing creative activities in your life, this book will help you realize how you've been a creative being all along. Now's the time to reengage your life, dreams, and creative self. Danny's book will give you enough gas to get you a fair ways down the road and the insight to be able to spot refilling stations.
If you already have a creative license and use it daily in your life, the book will still encourage you. Chances are your take on visual journals and creativity is skewed differently because you already understand your process. But a fresh view, another angle, can help you appreciate what you have and enable you to flex your creative muscles even more.
After reading the book I felt that the experience was like being swept up into a brainstorming meeting where there was a lot of laughter and enthusiasm but also serious, earnest work. I believe you'll enjoy this book.
I made all these assessments on the black and white proofs. I now have printed version of the book if full color. It is a visually entertaining book.
Danny can sell an idea and he does it clearly and with humor. I'll be taking this book along to my journaling classes so that my students can benefit from the perspective Danny brings to the topic.
Danny didn't ask me to write a review, but I felt compelled to because there are a lot of "creativity" books on the market. Why buy this one? Many prospective readers will come to this book from one of Danny's earlier books, "Everyday Matters." Others will find this book through Danny's website and blog. If you've enjoyed and found Danny's insights in either place helpful then you'll enjoy this book and it will speak to you in accessible ways that other creativity books might not. If you're reading this review cold, because you've never been exposed to Danny's work, then you must be searching for books that can put you in touch with your creative process. This book will help you in an encouraging way that might just get you over that hump you're facing.
(My quibble with the book is the handwriting font used for the text. I find such fonts difficult to read for any length of time. The great thing about this book however, is that you probably will only read small portions at a time. I mention this so people will understand my 4 [out of 5] star rating. I'm a book designer, we all have our prejudices; this is just another of my disclaimers. Other readers will perhaps find the handwriting font makes the reading experience more like reading an actual journal.)