If you work or live as a creative - an artist, writer, composer, innovator etc. - you will find the strategies in this book on how to lead a more productive and joyful creative life invaluable. A Harvard business prof says we have morphed from the industrial, to the information, to the innovation or creative age. Creativity and innovation are increasingly important. You don't have to be an artist to benefit from this book.
This is a manual for creativity for students, professionals and teachers learning, working and teaching in creative fields. The author suggests we are usually all three at once as we need to be constantly learning, working and sharing what we know. As a visual artist, former gallery director, and now professor at Rhode Island School of Design, author Clara Lieu has distilled her wisdom from creating, working and teaching art into 60 unique lessons or strategies.
In this book Lieu promises, "I will help you confront your challenges with concrete strategies to foster your creative drive." She continues, "Whether you are a student, professional, or teacher of the arts, this book delivers succinct, practical, and candid advice that addresses both common concerns in the creative path and the real-life challenges an artist faces in the real world....Those starting their art career will value the tips and strategies for becoming known, as well as staying motivated. Teachers will gain insights from not only my experiences but also the perspectives of my colleagues, mentors and students. This easy-to-digest volume has advice than can be readily put into practice by anyone."
Some of the advice which struck a chord most with me - you will enjoy finding your own wisdom in this book:
* See every assignment as an opportunity ~ If you treat your homework only as homework, that's all it will be. Many students view the parameters of an assignment as a set of difficult rules that strangles their creativity. Instead, think of the parameters as a departure point with the final destination in your hands.
* Ideas will always prevail over technique ~ Exorcise yourself of the most obvious solutions and your work will become more original. The first idea is never the best one. When I get started, I purposefully sketch out on paper my most cliche attempt so I can get rid of it and move on to something more distinctive and innovative.
* Have fun ~ When I was 19 years old I was convinced I was an oil painter, so I started my sophomore year in art school as a painting major. At a certain point I knew something was glaringly wrong when I was having more fun in my stained glass elective than in my painting class. Switching into the illustration department was one of the best decisions I've made in my entire life. My new classes provided the structure and technical instruction I had been craving.
* Jump off the cliff ~ I would rather see projects with blood, sweat, and tears than see safe, incremental progressions. Baby steps take forever. Why not push through by taking one giant risk? You won't ever know how far to go until you've gone too far.
Many of the strategies in this book apply to life, too - although wouldn't take the jump off the cliff one too literally. Art therapists might find this book useful, too. A teaching idea that I loved was how the author showed the progression of her own work in a slideshow to her students. Stephen King did something similar in one of his books on writing - he showed a piece of writing he'd done and then how he edited it. When Lieu suggests strategy #9 to Make Bad Work, it reminded me of writer Anne Lamott's advice on writing and life in her book BIRD BY BIRD: do #@%!ty first drafts.
The section on students' most frequently asked questions in the classroom was as intriguing as the strategies. While reading, I noticed the charming illustrations in the book and realized it must be the author's work ~ lovely accent. The wisdom in this book would take art students and new artists years to accumulate; this would be a great gift - or even textbook - for students and beginning artists. Mature artists and teachers will enjoy Lieu's perspective to enrich their experience. Don't be fooled by the size or simplicity of this book - the lessons within are fairly priceless, and written in very positive, affirming way that is sure to motivate. This book may make you want to sign up for an art class and exercise your creativity.
(review copy provided)