I actually picked this book up when I was doing some research for the part time Art course I am doing.  However, it really belongs in the ‘self-help’ section rather than Art.

Will Gompertz is the BBC Arts Editor and usually writes books and articles about artists and their work.  This book is a little different in that he takes a look at the characteristics artists seem to share that make them flourish and how we all can learn lessons from them.

The characteristics he looks at are:

  • Artists are enterprising
  • Artists don’t fail
  • Artists are curious
  • Artists steal
  • Artists are sceptics
  • Artists think big picture and fine detail
  • Artists have a point of view
  • Artists are brave
  • Artists pause for thought

It really is an interesting read and I think most people can learn something from the ideas he proposes.

As for myself:

  • Enterprising – I do try and find new ways to succeed and make money.  I have been independent in terms of money from a very young age.  I started my first part time job age 13 and have always worked in some capacity.  I started my own business when I didn’t have a job and this is something I am trying to set up again.  I am much happier and settled when working for myself as it makes me feel more in control of my life and I can take rest days when needed.  I don’t do well in a 9-5 regimented job.
  • Failure – I have failed many times but the key point in the book is that mistakes aren’t failures, failure is not trying again.  Artists do this all the time, they rarely paint a masterpiece at the first attempt, they keep trying and experimenting until they get it right.  I do try to keep on trying, there have been many times I have felt like giving up but at the moment I am trying.
  • Curiosity – yes I am a curious person, I like learning new things and I love reading how other people do things.
  • Stealing – in the book this is mainly how artists use other artists as their source of ideas and inspiration, not theft in the criminal sense.  I love to read and I will ‘steal’ the ideas from the books to try out in my own life.
  • Sceptical – yes this is me, I question everything!
  • Big Picture and Fine Detail – this is something I need to work on.  I focus on the big picture a lot but forget about the small important steps to get there.  Take my weight loss for example, I am too focused on the big goal but often neglect the tiny every day decisions.  I know I won’t get there without focusing on the small details too but this is an area I find difficult.
  • Have a point of view – I am secretly opinionated but I don’t often share them in real life as I lack confidence.  Writing on a computer is different and I am far more myself on here than I am in real life sometimes.  This is something I can work on
  • Bravery – people always make comments like ‘oh you’re so brave for sharing that’.  I don’t feel brave.  I feel quite cowardly hiding behind a pseudonym and blogging anonymously but I know for now that the right path.
  • Pausing for thought – this is something I am trying to accommodate with my daily mindfulness.

The book is quite short, only 200 small pages so it is very readable and I would recommend it for anyone wanting a slightly different style self help book 🙂