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Real Artists Don't Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age Paperback – May 29, 2018
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About the Author
Jeff Goins is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, and popular blogger with a reputation for challenging the status quo. In three years, Goins built a million-dollar business, published four books, and became an online marketing expert, using his skills in writing and business to help others succeed. He is the author of four books, including The Art of Work, which landed on the bestseller lists of USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly, and Washington Post. He lives with his family near Nashville, TN.
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If you have read more than a few books/blogs about being an artist and making a living, particularly those of a more inspirational bent, you won't really find anything new here.
Despite that, the way that the stories are told is nicely done. I enjoyed it and found it a light and quick read and will probably read it again at some point. It's one of those books that's better suited to someone who needs encouragement rather than practical instructions.
The 12 points, which he lists in the introduction, are:
1. The starving artist believes you must be born an artist. The thriving artist knows you must become one.
2. The starving artist strives to be original. The thriving artist steals from his influences.
3. The starving artist believes he has enough talent. The thriving artist apprentices under a master.
4. The starving artist is stubborn about everything. The thriving artist is stubborn about the right things.
5. The starving artist waits to be noticed. The thriving artist cultivates patrons.
6. The starving artist believes he can be creative anywhere. The thriving artist goes where creative work is already happening.
7. The starving artist always works alone. The thriving artist collaborates with others.
8. The starving artist does his work in private. The thriving artist practices in public.
9. The starving artist works for free. The thriving artist always works for something.
10. The starving artist sells out too soon. The thriving artist owns his own work.
11. The starving artist masters one craft. The thriving artist masters many.
12. The starving artist despises the need for money. The thriving artist makes money to make art.
Each point then becomes a chapter that Goins fills with anecdotes to prove his case with Michelangelo as the archetype of the thriving artist. My only criticism of the book is you could say Goins is guilty of cherry picking examples to suit his argument, none of us are Michelangelo after all, but that would be missing the point, which is that good art and commerce co-exist and always have. The principles and examples he develops are good, and after finishing the book today, I can say it maps out a course worth following for any creative type who wants to do good work, as I hope to do, well into a ripe old age.
P.S. interesting marketing campaign, kudos on that
Top international reviews
He illustrates each of these rules with two stories ( although some - Michelangelo being a good example - appear in more than one chapter. he adds a bit of commentary and sums up the chapter referring back to the two stories. The book, accordingly is heavy on inspirational storytelling and extremely low on any practicality beyond the generic exhortations he draws from the stories. The book is fresh in that no one else has drawn these particular stories together and no one else has structured it this way. However the exhortation and advice is commonplace in this type of creativity book. Indeed the real disappointment for me is that there is so little of the author himself in the book. It reads for what it is - a compilation of research That is not something he hides - indeed, helpfully there are pages of references and sources at the back of the book. However, aside from a couple of paragraphs there is no mention of the author himself. This is not a book about any wisdom Jeff Goins has learned by pursuing his own path. you will learn nothing about his unique story or his thoughts and struggles as artist himself. It has nothing that comes from his heart but everything that comes from his library and research notes. Accordingly it lacks any passion and authenticity. Lacks anything new.
I cannot say I disliked it. Nor was I overwhelmed by it. If you have the money and want something to be entertained by and enjoy light reading about creativity at bedtime, its worth a go. If you are looking for inspiraton and have not read many stories about successful artists you might well find a touch here. If you are hoping to take yourself from starving artist to thriving artist you will get from this an understanding that you should and can do so but will be left standing where you started no wiser about how to actually do that in practice. Sadly I think the author missed an opportunity to cover a good subject in real depth.
That said, for would be authors, its actually a very good example to look at if you wish to write a book according to the Michael Hyatt type formulaic non-fiction template. ( It's launch was accompanied by the same American style hard sell with 'bonus videos and links' offered 'free' and inflated supposed values ( $50 assigned to joining a free Facebook group for example)). In that sense, he proves his point as he will sell copies and make money from the book. However, it is not a good example of a book which will stay with you, will alter your life or will be something you find yourself pressing into the hands of other readers. I believe Goins has the writing ability to achieve the latter and I hope in the future to see him drop this slick formula writing and and dig deeper and write with openness from the heart.
Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age
In the new gig economy, we are all artist. Starting with deciding to be an artist or entrepreneur. After that choice, the trick is not to starve. Jeff Goins gives you blue print how to make sure that does not happen. They are all open doors:
You will not starve if you realise that art is an ongoing process of deliberate practice.
You will not starve if you borrow and steal from other to become better.
You will not starve if you strive for mastery, including learning from one as an apprentice.
You will not starve if you do not act like a prima donna
You will not starve if you market yourself
You will not starve if you cultivate networks and relationships
You will not starve if you go where the work is
You will not starve if you collaborate with others
You will not starve if you do not work for free
You will not starve if you are careful about your business model.
You will not starve if you are multidimensional
You will not starve if you make money
The book has some interesting perspectives, which as an artist or entrepreneur, you will recognise. Apologies for the long list of bullet points (and the ten rules at the end)
It is difficult to be creative in certain settings, particularly schools.
Creative kids have no patience with ridiculous rules. They don’t see any purpose in it
Before you can create great art, you first have to create yourself.
Creativity is more likely in places where new ideas require less effort to be perceived.
A wandering mind can be an asset if you learn how to use it.
Creativity needs collaboration.
The most creative minds in the world are not especially creative; they’re just better at rearrangement.
Caution is good
In the end, the more cautious entrepreneurs ended up being, the more successful ones
We are far too impatient, too eager to show the world what we have to offer, too unwilling to take the time to learn the fundamentals of a craft.
The way you establish your authority in a certain field is by mastering the techniques of those who are already authorities. What eventually emerges over time is your own style.
Before we become masters, we must first become apprentices.
Apprenticeship requires three important traits: patience, perseverance, and humility.
You are never done becoming yourself
Opportunity may come and go, but it, in the end, hard work is all that we can measure.
You can do extraordinary things when you are patiently persistent.
The most important factor in the success of your career is where you decide to live.
Go where the magic is.
All my great opportunities have come from friends. You really only need one or two good friends, because it’s really about having someone who’s going to advocate for you. That’s the formula for success.
Creative work spreads through a network. Not through the efforts of a lone genius.
Genius happens in groups.
Find your fellow misfits.
I am a Tolkien fan
Diana Glyer’s theory is that 92 percent of The Lord of the Rings was written on Wednesday nights because J. R. R. Tolkien knew on Thursdays he’d have to face his friend C. S. Lewis and account for his work.
C. S. Lewis did influence Tolkien in some powerful ways, and he wasn’t the only one. “There was a group of them,” Diana Glyer said, “nineteen men and they got together once or twice a week for about seventeen years.
“And it’s that expectation,” Professor Glyer said, “there’s a ferocious aspect to it. But there’s also the compassionate expectation that says, ‘You have this great idea. You told me about this project. You said you were going to drive this. How’s that going for you?’ And knowing that other people are out there, I think, makes all the difference.”
It is s the duty of all artists “to find an adequate expression to convey their art to as many souls as possible.” Or to put it more succinctly: art needs an audience. Promotion is an essential part of the job.
Charging brings dignity to the work. Money is part of the process of becoming an artist, if for no other reason than it affirms you are a professional, but the decision to be taken seriously is yours alone.
Always work for something.
You must believe your work is worth charging for. Don’t make a habit of working for free. Without money, you don’t get to make more art. Try to always work for something, even if that something is the chance to do work that pays.
Even the most generous of audiences will not tolerate an amateur.
The chief goal of every artist is to make the work great.
And last but not least
Don’t sell out too soon. Remember George Luca. Ownership buys freedom.
Applying the rules of business
A long time ago Brian O’Kane and I wrote “Applying the rules of business”. We had 10 of them:
You gotta know who you’re selling to
You’re not alone
You can only charge what the customer thinks it’s worth.
You gotta get the sales.
You gotta sell within capacity.
You gotta get a margin.
You gotta have money to make money.
You gotta make a profit to stay in business.
You gotta have something to sell.
You gotta be true to yourself
Combine them with “Real Artists Don’t Starve” and you might have the blue print for success.
I'm still near the beginning of my journey, but Jeff has provided me with some very thought-provoking tools and insights to help me on my way.
This book is full of some really impressive stories. You'll know most of the characters already, but you won't know about the intricacies that Jeff Goins brings to life. It's truly an inspiring book - the work of an amazing Thriving Artist and someone I honestly look up to!
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is pursuing their passion in art, writing, photography or any other creative outlet. There are creative and proven ways to make art and be rewarded for it. Jeff is a great writer but he is also a proven entrepreneur who understands what it means to craft a life that provides for your family and allow you avenues to do work that matters.
Nevertheless, it was a great choice. Loved the book from cover to cover. It was a refreshing read. It was as if I was reading another Dale Carnegie's classics.
One of the best things about this book is that it's concise and straight up to the point. No filler words that most of the authors do these days to make their books fatter.
If you're a person who creates stuff or is looking to, pick up this book and read it. It'll guide you in the right direction.
Encouraging and instructive!