Things Are What You Make of Them: Life Advice for Creatives

by: Adam J. Kurtz (0)

"Adam J. Kurtz wants you to feel better. About yourself. About the world. About the creative process." -Adweek
Insights and inspiration for anyone who makes art (or anything else) from someone who's been there (and maybe still is).

From the creative mind and heart of designer Adam J. Kurtz comes this upbeat rallying cry for creators of all stripes. Expanding on a series of popular essays, this handwritten and heartfelt book shares wisdom and empathy from one working artist to others in his signature tone: empathetic, vulnerable, inclusive, and conversational. Perforated tear-and-share pages make it easy to display the most crucial reminders or to pass a bit of advice on to someone who needs it.

As wry and cheeky as it is empathic and empowering, this deceptively simple, vibrantly full-color book will be a touchstone for writers, artists, entrepreneurs, and anyone else who wants to be more creative--even when it would be easier to give up and act normal.

The Ultimate BuzzFeed Books Gift Guide: "Pursuing art in all its forms, whether professionally or not, requires so much resilience and faith. Adam J. Kurtz's Things Are What You Make of Them is full of pick-me-ups and reminders that you are more than your self-doubt, and certainly you aren't alone in them."

The Reviews

I really enjoyed this book and refer to it often, but I just wanted to point out that it's *tiny*, about the size of a small greeting card. So if you are looking to purchase it as a gift or even as a book to include in your stack of art books, be aware of the size. The one great thing about this size, though, is that it's portable. I grab it and throw it in my bag a lot of the time when I know I might be waiting somewhere, just to get a hit of inspiration. It's more fun to flip through than my phone.

This book is lovely, and I can’t review it highly enough. I have pages copied throughout my house, saved as my phone wallpaper, and inscribed in the margins of my journal. The colors are beautiful, and the message is one of self love and motivation. I’ve given this as a gift to (it seems like) almost everyone in my life. x

This small guide is the perfect gift for the friend who is trying to make it (or has already made it) in the creative industry. Artists, writers, knitters of funky socks included. The handwriting is a breath of fresh air from the overdone calligraphy everywhere else. Tips on dealing with rejection are welcome as is acknowledging that work can really suck. Great little stocking stuffer or bday gift.

Pocket-sized book full of quips that'll bring a smile to your face and reassure you like a friend would.This book has found a home in the bottom of my bag and I enjoy reading a page or two on my commute, it's a great way to start or end the day.Would make a lovely gift. Bonus: the pages are perforated so you can easily tear them out, send one to a friend, or pin one in your office.

I’ve loved Adam’s work for a long time. I would probably buy just about anything he put out. That’s because his work always comes from an honest, caring place, and always has a great splash of humor. This book is a great example of that. If you’re looking for some genuine insight on how to live and work in a creative field or mindset then this is the book for you. And as a bonus, all the pages are printed on art quality paper and perfectly perforated to become an instant print. Seriously, why haven’t you bought it already?

It's so comforting to know that this book is at home waiting for me now, whenever I need a reminder that I'm *good enough* or even just that the world is inherently *good enough*. The simple fact that this book exists and that Adam created it is a testament to the power of giving yourself permission to make the things you love. And what more do we need than that? I look forward to referencing it in all my most stumbling creative moments.

Things Are What You Make of Them is the perfect companion for every creative. I preordered this book & was blown away with the final product. The honest, conversational tone makes room for you to talk openly with yourself about the insecurities and questions every creative experiences in their work. An excellent read & a beauty to add to your shelf!

As a creative person who works from home, I can say that every page of this book is meaningful to me. I loved being inspired while reading this and reminded of what's truly important. Whether you're a successful creative person or one feeling a bit lost, this book will touch your heart. I'm glad to have this on my shelf to refer to whenever and will definitely be giving these out as gifts!

"Delightful collection of encouragement, understanding, and simplified, actionable advice that will be comforting to creatives in all stages of their lives and careers. Pushes you to challenge yourself and evolve, keeps it real and minimizes b.s., and understands the low points without invalidating them - just like you wish a good friend would. Freelance life can feel kind of lonely but I'm really glad to have this book as my new advisor & cheerleader."

I carry this book with me in my bag every day (have actually thought about getting a second copy so I can keep one each in the two bags I switch back and forth between because when I forget to switch it I always reach for it and feel bereft). It is full of wise and helpful advice, and makes me feel like a smart understanding person who is just a little bit further into their creative life than me is giving me a big hug every time I open it up. I've actually purchased several more copies and given them to friends who now also reference this delightfully colorful little book whenever they are needing a pep talk or pick me up. I LOVE this book. Thank you Adam for sharing such absurdly wonderful advice with us all.

Things Are What You Make of Them is SO important to me as a designer and design director. The sentiments in this book feel so personal yet so universal, and that's comforting. Knowing that what I am feeling is felt by others but also being able to tear and share a perforated page means so much to me.

This was the first book I purchased by this Author and once I got it, I went back and bought 5 more to give as gifts to friends! The ability to support a real-life artist, not a huge company is always amazing and totally worth it! This was the perfect gift for all my artist and entrepreneur friends, it is filled with simple and encouraging truth that I (and they) really resonated with. It's a good little pocket size, great for a coffee table or perfect to pop in your backpack to take on a trip. I definitely recommend! Buy as a gift or keep for yourself. This book might not change your life, but gosh, it will absolutely make it better.

This book is lovely, and I can’t review it highly enough. I have pages copied throughout my house, saved as my phone wallpaper, and inscribed in the margins of my journal. The colors are beautiful, and the message is one of self love and motivation. I’ve given this as a gift to (it seems like) almost everyone in my life. x

Short and sweet, content to keep in mind for all the creatives (be that the more “artsy” or more conceptualizing crowds).

This book is great. Reading it is like listening to that sarcastic but really kind and wise friend who always knows what to say. It’s like a guide for creatives of all kinds because it’s soooo relatable. The creative industry is crazy competitive so it’s wonderful to see someone like Adam offer real advice and share what he learned with others. The book is great for people who are trying to make it AND ones who have already made it. I loved it so much, I ordered more copies for friends, who also enjoyed reading it. The coolest physical feature about the book is that you can tear out the pages you like most and frame them or hang them on your wall, which is something I love to do. To sum it all up, this book is a collection of meaningful, helpful, and comforting advice and you should definitely get it!

Hello hi. I am writing from my mother's Amazon Prime account, because what millennial even has one??? Anyway, I purchased this book for my husband who is currently getting his MFA in painting and has clinical depression. The look on his face as I watched him read this book spoke volumes. Adam J. Kurtz not only is an incredible designer/artist/illustrator, but I actually feel like he is a close friend, cheering on me/my husband/anyone on the planet! I look forward to seeing anything he's done and his social media posts always brighten my day. This smol book is just that. It's a ray of sunshine and a daily reminder that even in the face of adversity, there is always someone hoping, wishing, and praying that you're killing it!Jewelya

It's been quite a while since I felt this ripped off by an author and publisher. Too be clear, if I could post a review with NO stars I would, but then Amazon thinks you've decided not to post a review at all and you can't leave a comment.I get it that scrawling the text out in handwritten all caps on little torn off pocket notebook pages looks spontaneous, hip and confidential but it doesn't seem to have occurred to this publisher and author that (a) it comes across as condescending to the reader, (b) it's a monumental waste of space for the not very much that you have to say, and (c) this presentation seriously impedes legibility in the most fundamental ways. On those occasions where Kurtz actually needs a few paragraphs to explain himself the publisher has typeset these passages (in the Kindle version I bought) in a tiny sans serif font buried beneath a grey tinted screen. Really, It's like picking cinders out of the soot. Note to publisher, try hiring book designers who are not sadists.But enough about presentation. When it comes to actual substance there is not enough to make the reader feel like this is anything close to a worthwhile purchase. Just because someone has contributed an amusing and entertaining column on a regular basis to a blog or website does NOT mean they need be taken seriously as book authors. Apparently this guy has something of a following online and it may be entertaining to read (for free, in weekly installments) Kurtz's wandering riffs that veer into lame attempts at something resembling very predictable stand-up comedy, but when you've put down ten bucks for this it becomes downright annoying when it comes up again and again in these sparse pages.Bottom line: Penguin and Kurtz, I want my money back. For the rest of you, if you want "Life advice for Creatives," keep looking because there's little of it here in this poorly presented, smug and jokey grab for your cash.

Things Are What You Make of Them: Life Advice for Creatives
⭐ 4.7 💛 462
kindle: $11.16
paperback: $1.73
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