Living and Sustaining a Creative Life: Essays by 40 Working Artists

by: Sharon Louden (0)

In this day and age, when art has become more of a commodity and art school graduates are convinced that they can only make a living from their work by attaining gallery representation, it is more important than ever to show the reality of how a professional, contemporary artist sustains a creative practice over time. The forty essays collected in Living and Sustaining a Creative Life are written in the artists’ own voices and take the form of narratives, statements, and interviews. Each story is different and unique, but the common thread is an ongoing commitment to creativity, inside and outside the studio. Both day-to-day and big picture details are revealed, showing how it is possible to sustain a creative practice that contributes to the ongoing dialogue in contemporary art. These stories will inform and inspire any student, young artist, and art enthusiast and will help redefine what "success" means to a professional artist.

The Reviews

As a professional artist, I was very taken with this refreshing book of essays about the practical side of making a living as a visual artist. My path of making a living as an artist has been as unique and unexpected as many of the stories represented in Louden's book, and I found myself feeling validated and supported. As in my experience, the book shows how serendipity, hard work, luck, talent, and building relationships play a part in developing the careers of artists. There are quite a few essays included, and each path and perspective shared was interesting in its own way. The editor, Sharon Louden, presented the pieces in a straightforward manner, forgoing too much opinionated commentary that can take away from the clarity of the material. In fact, my favorite thing about the book was how each author stuck to the topic (making a continuous living as a visual artist) without intellectual discourse. The mystery of creativity is a powerful and wonderful part of being an artist, but the day to day workings and the meanderings of a career are a thing of fascination, too. This book celebrated the functional side of art, presented by professionals who can instruct by honest experience rather than didacticism. It was at times funny, surprising, and triumphant. I recommend it to artists at the dawn of their possible careers or artists who've been at it for a lifetime.

As a non-practicing artist, only at the moment, this book has inspired me to dust off my talents and polish them a little. A fantastic read but it does not stop there. These artist actually exist, they are not dead yet, they are still practicing artists. You can look them up on the internet and contact them. Just reading about them and researching their work encouraged me enough. It has caused me to pull out one of my husband's books on business planning and now I'm on my way. Keeping in contact with other artists I studied with, and others I've met over the years are also a great encouragement and of the utmost importance. This book invoked again that passion that started it all in the beginning. The best book for artists who want to make a living out of their passion for the creative things in life. Highly recommended. The only book of its kind so far.

There are many wonderful things about this book. Each artists chapter reveals the layers of what it means to balance life as an artist. The term working artist can mean many, many things. Defining what is a "working artist" is indeed one of the great intangibles of learning what it is to be an artist. The bottom line is we all figure it out and define it in different ways. Sharon's book illuminates the various ways artists define what it is to be and do and function as a working artist. The essays, most narrative in form, peel back the layers of daily life and work. They reveal the sometimes precarious balance that artists walk with their daily practice, their business and their personal lives. I wish I'd had this book when I was at NYU. It would have demystified the artistic world I so desperately wanted to be a part of. Now many years later I have figured out the daily ins and outs of what it means to move through life as an artist. But back in school this book would have been an invaluable tool in putting a creative life together bit by bit as it works for the individual. I say it should be required reading for art students of all disciplines. It's filled with insight that one only gets from experience. Its a rare gift to get an inside view of the path to come. I loved every page. Wonderful book.

This book tells real stories, in all their complexities, of how artists craft a life that leaves space and energy for their work, while still finding a way to make the financial aspects of it work. It is down to earth, pragmatic, and complex in the way real lives are. It makes it clear there is no simple formula. We all have to find our way, and a little luck along the way doesn't hurt, but may not happen. Well written, and an enjoyable read.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it continues to keep a fire lit under my wings! In this book, I find Sharon Louden normalizing the sustaining journeys an artist takes through sharing these essays from a diversity of artist disciplines. Each essay brings forth a truthful and humbling note of reality cutting through to the bone of what it means to figure out living and surviving in making art. This book will inform you about what it takes and make you question, "Are you in it as a lifer or not?" The striking and dynamic piece of this book reveals the different paths one can take and the hard work involved. Reading the preface alone will speak to the invisibleness and isolation many experience. It's the truth of the day-to-day living that she is after in this book. New York Gallerist, Ed Winkleman's interview with Louden speaks clearly and articulately about the give and take aways whether you are in a gallery or not. I am a full-time Staging Designer, single Mom of a young woman with a disability and sustain my art life through consultant sales, commissioned work and selling directly from my studio.

If you're an artist and expect to make a career out of it, you should read this book. You'll hear from 40 other artists how they balance business and art in order to sustain themselves and be happy. These essays paint a realistic panorama on what to expect while living as an artist and how to juggle it with the ever important mission of paying the bills and being able to continue making art.

As a psychology researcher, Angela Duckworth digs deep into understanding how people use self-control and "grit"--her term for that relentless work ethic of sustained commitment to a long term goal--to achieve success. Duckworth claims that character is at least as important as intellect and that the secret of genius is doggedness rather than innate talent.Sharon Loudon has offered up another window into how these qualities play out in that notoriously difficult, discouraging and yet deliciously satisfying profession of visual art. Her new book, Living and Sustaining a Creative Life: Essays by 40 Working Artists, shares the very personal stories of artists who have found a way to continue doing their work regardless of the financial, emotional, relational and obligational challenges that come with that profession.What struck me while reading each of these personal histories was how direct and honest the accounts were. Loudon succeeded in maintaining a consistent point of view that thankfully sidesteps those notorious and irritating proclivities to narcissism (A recent article by Jill Steinhauer on Hyperallergic was titled, "Want to Be an Artist? Try a Little Narcissism." No thanks.) Published by the British press Intellect, Living and Sustaining also stands out for its well designed blending of text, image and white space.These stories are a heartening reminder that each of us has the option to fashion a career on our own terms. None of the artists included in this collection had success handed to them. They are all hard working and grit-rich.Those qualities, very similar to Duckworth's research, are captured in this heartening quote from Carter Foster, Curator of the Whitney Museum, which Loudon wisely placed at the beginning of the collection:"For me, artists are driven to do what they do no matter what. It's a very powerful ambition and they pursue it in whatever way works best for them. Artists have a practice and pursuing and developing it is always the motivating factor, not whether or not they will sell something or even find a venue in which it can be seen. In my experience, artists are among the most self-motivated, organized, the most disciplined and the hardest working people I know. Sure, some artists are lucky enough that they can make a living doing it while other artists work day jobs or supplement their practice by teaching or other means. But I don't think the distinction is important. It's the seriousness of purpose that I admire the most."(This review first appeared on Slow Muse, a blog by Deborah Barlow)

As a young artist and nonprofit arts professional who graduated with an art degree, I wish I could have read this book when I was in undergrad! It has still been an insightful and timely read for me 10 years after graduating. I thought it would be more of a how to guide and describe specifically how to make money in art, but it is much more. The book is a collection of personal essays from working artists who each describe their personal challenges, practices and approach to work life balance. I have appreciated the sincerity and honesty of the essays.There are many books about arts marketing and trade publications offering specific advice for specific arts markets and strategies for making a living as an artist. What's different about Living and Sustaining a Creative Life is the personal approach, which is helpful for understanding how working artists have individually designed their careers with work-life balance and economy in mind. The art field is truly unique encompassing such a wide variety of talents, interests, and micro economies. I've enjoyed the variety of perspectives and experiences compiled in this collection. The life of a working artist is as much about lifestyle as it is about breadwinning and I think this title articulates both the challenges and possibilities of earning a living with one's art, while maintaining creative perspective, practice, and having a life.The essays are concise and well edited, it's a quick read, with a human voice, peppered with a few swear words and humor, while maintaining seriousness, depth and being informative. Most of the essays express struggle at different levels, some overcome and some outstanding, but without a negative or depressing vibe.If you're and artist looking for a bit of insider art business advice, without specific numbers or a bit of creative self help, without a cheesy angle or positive inspiration and ideas to keep trucking in your arts career, this collection of essays is for you. I would highly recommend this title to art students or as a gift for a recent graduate looking for what to do next. University art school educators will find excellent contemporary group discussion points to prepare students for entry into the field “professionally”. A seasoned artist will hopefully find comfort in the like minded struggles we all share and feel motivated reading the well written, entertaining behind the scenes essays.

I am happy with the pencils but the tin was dented when it arrived so it’s difficult to open & close.It did arrive a day earlier than I expected so that was nice!

These pencils are creamy and the colors beautiful. The blues are different from other collections. I've never had a problem sharpening them. They're made in England and I wish they'd add more colors.

Nice small pack of pencils. Good Quality. Wax based. Smooth on paper. Colors are nice. Would recommend.

Lovely array of colors. Pencils lay color smoothly. Leads are not breaking, even the yellow ones - seems to be the color that breaks most readily. Pencils are sharpening well with a Blick sharpener. All around positive experience. Good pencils for amateurs, handle as well as the Derwent set I bought and a bit better than my old set of Caran d'Ache. Shipped well in good packaging, arriving without a dent or scratch.

This is a very interesting set of colored pencils, that doesn't exist in my country. My only complaint is the we can't find a more complete set. 36 colours is a very small set for artists.

Nice gift for the artistically inclined among one's friends

These are the best pencils . Especially for the price ! Colors are vibrant, you don't need to press hard . You have easy control of the brightness of color and shading . They sharpen to a fine point if needed.

Awesome set of affordable pencils for kids or adults. 36 different colors come in a tin case. i liked them so much, i bought a second set.

Living and Sustaining a Creative Life: Essays by 40 Working Artists
⭐ 4.4 💛 123
kindle: $9.99
paperback: $34.54
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