Cover Image: Make Your Art No Matter What

Make Your Art No Matter What

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Member Reviews

* I received a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. No compensation has been given and I write this book review willingly. A big thanks to NetGalley and Chronicle Books! *



Wait, hold on, did someone say art? I’m right here!

Yup, any time someone mentions the words art or writing, you’ll see me poppin’ up.

So, how about when I read that title, Make Your Art No Matter What, over on NetGalley? Instant request!

Thankfully I was approved!

And thus began a soul-digging yet rewarding and comforting adventure…


The Artist's Way for the 21st century—from esteemed creative counselor Beth Pickens.

If you are an artist, you need to make your art. That's not an overstatement—it's a fact; if you stop doing your creative work, your quality of life is diminished. But what do you do when life gets in the way? In this down-to-earth handbook, experienced artist coach Beth Pickens offers practical advice for developing a lasting and meaningful artistic practice in the face of life's inevitable obstacles and distractions. This thoughtful volume suggests creative ways to address the challenges all artists must overcome—from making decisions about time, money, and education, to grappling with isolation, fear, and anxiety. No matter where you are in your art-making journey, this book will motivate and inspire you. Because not only do you need your art—the world needs it, too.

The Positive Sides

“It’s an exchange, so the agreement is this: I’ll keep helping artists and you keep making your work and putting it in the world. Deal?”

That sentence right there touched me deeply, made me feel warm inside and smile. And you know what? DEAL!

On a side-note, the graphics of each chapter title is really beautiful with calming waves and gently surfing letters. That, in itself, is art, and quite appreciated too. It’s pleasant to the eye.

I love how each chapter relates to a major issue experienced by most artists. It’s clear and easy to navigate to and understand. So the book not only becomes one to read through, but a companion to come back to about a specific topic in times of need! Furthermore, her writing is sometimes funny, yet she is professional and amiable. I liked her voice as an author, I felt safe, and as though she was a friend looking over me.

There’s something mind-blowing about the author’s pedigree of this artist’s self-help book: She is a psychologist specializing with artists! I never heard of this, but it’s AWESOME. And it gives weight to her tips and tricks and her words. She gives so many tips and tricks (proven ones from a psychologist’s point of view!). I’m now using at least four of her techniques, it’s amazing what it does to our art practice!

For example, I love the techniques and mindset of “Your birthday every month for life things” and the “aim to get 20 rejections, which means you’ll have tried and applied for many more opportunities and received approvals in several.”

Overall, there’s something uplifting and helpful for EVERY artist. Me, my bestie, and my mom are three very different artists BUT there are things I told them from this book that resonated with THEM and not me, while others did so with me! It’s amazing how helpful this book can be!

I recommend it to EVERY artist, crafter, writer…. even engineer! Anything that requires creativity!!!

The Negative Sides

Erm, it’s too short to my liking? I mean, it’s an admirable piece of work and I LOVE it! But that’s exactly the thing… I’d take easily a hundred pages more of it. It feels like a motivational, helpful, and true elixir for all types of art!

Come on, who wouldn’t want more?

In Conclusion

Taking into consideration all the advice, counsel, comfort, and techniques Make Your Art No Matter What offers us, I give Beth Pickens’ book a rating of 5 out of 5 stars, undeniably. But please, make the next one longer?
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A must-read for anyone wanting to start their art journey but is not feeling too confident about it. It’s a nice reference to have for when you’re having doubts about your creativity.
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This is a pretty simple book going through a few different kinds of obstacles you might face as an artist—i.e. money, time, stress etc. and tips on how to deal with them. I think if you've done any kind of therapy even for a short period of time then you've probably come across most of the things Pickens suggests. There was really nothing I hadn't heard of before, and while not new, at least Pickens' suggestions are helpful and healthy. It is a beautifully put-together book and I'll definitely be passing it on to other artists in my life.
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For some years, I have been trying to “re-learn” to draw and be more creative. I was told as a child that I better don’t pursue my “artistic skills” as I did not have any, so I stopped drawing until recently, when my husband bought an iPad Pro and I started drawing with the App Procreate.

I’ve had my ups and downs but I am really happy with how much I have learnt in these couple of years.

However, there are sometimes when I feel quite frustrated and think that what I draw is just crap.

So the title of this book really caught my attention at the NetGalley website and I decided to give it a try.


Beth Pickens is a therapist whose patients are artists (musicians, painters, actors, etc.). So she knows what she is talking about.

She has divided the book into several sections, each one dealing with a different problem that repeatedly appears in her sessions with her patients. 

For example, in one chapter she talks about “Time” and how artists deal with it; in another one, she talks about “Grief” and how this affects the artistic work; and in another one, she discusses the topic of “Isolation” and what it means for artists and their work. 

The rest of the chapters deal with Work, Asking, Money, Fear, Other People, Education (very interesting!), Thinking+Feeling, Marketing and Death+God.

Then, after explaining each “problem” or topic and what it means in the artistic world, Beth tries to give the reader different exercises and ways to help the reader to cope with the issue in a positive way, which could lead in time to the solution of the problem, or at least it would lessen it.

In addition, at the end of the book, she includes a “Further Reading” with tons of extra books in case you want to continue exploring the topics she has discussed. 
For me, the chapter that resonated the most was the one dealing with what makes someone an artist. In my head, I don’t feel an artist at all, but Beth has made me change this way of thinking, for which I am grateful. 


The style and the whole feeling of the book is one of positivity, energy and good vibes. The way Beth writes is quite informal, as it were really a friend who is talking to you.

This definitely helped me being engaged with her message, specially in some of the chapters where what she was saying was quite deep and challenging for me.

If she had written the book in a more academic style, I think it wouldn’t have worked.

In addition to this, the layout of the book (structure, colour palette, etc.) is aesthetically very pleasing and it has enhanced my reading experience. 


I think, although this book is targeted for artists, almost everyone could extract some helpful advice out of it. It is well-written and quite easy to read.

However, if you are an artist (meaning you like to do some creative work, it doesn’t have to mean that this is your job or you gain money with it) then I’d like to specially recommend this book to you. It could help you with some problems that can appear throughout your creative life. You don’t lose anything and you have a lot to gain!
Thanks to the publisher, Chronicle Books, the author Beth Pickens and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of “Make your Art No Matter What” for review purposes.
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Books about making art have become a subgenre of their own. From Julia Cameron to Steven Pressfield, there is a lot out there to wade through as you try to take your own art seriously. I almost DNFed this as it fell a little short in comparison. The swearing was distasteful and unnecessary. And the initial chapters bored me.

Pickens has real experience coaching and counselling many artists, which is valuable. She talks about money which is something most creatives despise doing. She encourages people to ask for help. She's not scared to talk about grief and she rejects the idea of the straving artist trope. I half-skimmed a few sections as they have been covered in other books on the topic.

Chapter 8: Education perked my interest. Finally, someone is talking about how predetermined our options for higher education actually are. And admitting that an MFA is not a standard requirement! 

Then Chapter 9 challenges us to view our thoughts critically and not just accept every random, passing idea as truth. She says very clearly "We are not our thoughts".

She goes on to reiterate an idea that Cameron also wrote about where the idea of god is defined as "good orderly direction". This idea apparently stems from the 12-step programme. In this chapter she links the concepts of death and god to each other. It was an interesting idea and I began to see that she is writing from a very particular philosophical view point. It is a counter-culture stand point that faces your imminent death as a daily and spiritual practice. 

Towards the end she offers many examples of art and artists that explore the themes she is discussing. She also gives a further reading list which is sometimes my favourite section of a book!

While this was not the most practical or ground breaking work on the importance or practice of art, it did challenge my pre-conceived attitudes towards death, education and the creative process.
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As an artistic person who is looking at trying to make art more of a focal point in my life and perhaps even a source of income, this book was really informative and interesting to me. The author went into several different aspects of what artists need to consider and work through in their artistic pursuits. She talks about the importance of networking and mentorship for artists - which includes both being a mentee and a mentor. 

Other topics that Beth Pickens discussed in this book include balancing artistic pursuits and a regular day job and what that may look like; how social, economic and familial factors can contribute or detract from an artists ability to pursue their art the way that they want too. The topic of grief is also a big chapter in this book, because it can play a really large part in the development of an artist, their art style and impact how they feel about their art. 

This book is a heavy book. It can take a lot to get through, but if you are an artist who wants to start learning about stuff like this and trying to be a better artist or if you know an artist and want to get a little glimpse into what it can be like to be an artist then this is a good book for you. 

5 out of 5 stars.
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This is a practical and compassionate guide for artists who are learning to navigate the particular challenges of an artist's life. It might appeal to new artists or those who've reached a stumbling block.

For established artists, it might be a little annoying that the author seems to be giving us "permission" to be artists, as if we require external affirmation. As if we aren't already doing our jobs and doing them well. So, whether you find this book useful might depend on where you are in your career. 

Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC I received. This is my honest and voluntary review.
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Written by a therapist who deals mostly with people working in the creative field there are some pearls of wisdom in here, but overall I found it a slow read with a few too many examples.

It was not quite what I was looking for, but if you are stuck in an artistic rut, you might find it helpful.

Thanks to Netgalley for a copy, all opinions are my own.
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Make Your Art No Matter What by Beth Pickens
Moving Beyond Creative Hurdles

With personal anecdotes, examples and stories taken from people she has consulted with, information she has gleaned from life, and issues she believes are important to artists this book provides case studies, suggestions, activities, meditations, list making, work to be done and more as it identifies twelve areas that might cause difficulty and how to overcome issues that might arise. 

The Twelve areas covered:
* Time
* Work
* Asking
* Money
* Fear
* Grief
* Other People
* Education
* Thinking and Feeling
* Isolation
* Marketing
* Death + God
-  additional reading suggestions a

As an amateur artist, I have gotten away from the practice of creating and thought this book might assist me in returning to art, but it did not provide that stimulus or ideas that I was hoping for. Instead, it is more of a friendly consultant-like exploration of the topics listed above, the author’s thoughts and suggestions and beliefs on each topic, and a bit like a manual and self-help for artists with the above specific issues to address. If you do have such issues then this book might help, but it is not the book that I need right now or the one I was hoping it would be. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Chronicle Books for the ARC – This is my honest review. 

2-3 Stars
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All those excuses for not making art? Pickens wants them to go away.
Whether it's money, education, relationships, emotions - you name it ... pick up a copy and keep it on hand when you know you should but just can't bring yourself to make something.

The chapters are filled with suggestions, questions, categories of resistance and help, and other fine resources that will get you moving again. 

Get your art supplies out. Then make sure you have a copy on your workspace. GO!
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This was an interesting read. Written by a licensed counselor who has found a niche field with artists and creatives, this book explores things that may hold back an artist - and it has nothing to do with the actual motion of picking up a paintbrush or a pen.

She lists topics that she says every artist struggles with, and they are the names of the a different chapter in the book: Time; Work; Asking; Money; Fear; Grief; Other People; Education; Thinking + Feeling; Isolation; Marketing; and Death + God. Examples from different artists help illustrate different situations and topics, as well as the author's own thoughts and experiences.

At first look, I was expecting this book to tackle things that may physically obstruct an artist from doing their work - like a better organized work space. This book instead tackles the mental and emotional barriers or roadblocks that artists face. From the Thinking + Feeling chapter:

"When artists take better care of themselves and stabilize mental health issues, it becomes easier for them to maintain a regular practice and their output grows exponentially. We are robbed of an artist's life and gifts when that person gives up on creating art, becomes immobilized, or dies by suicide or overdose. We must take care of ourselves and each other."

An immensely useful book for anyone who creates for a living. Mental health awareness is a very important topic that some prefer to gloss over.
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I frequently struggle with creative blocks and stop painting for long periods of time.  I am always looking for books to inspire creativity and give me concrete ideas to keep painting.  
	I found this book to be filled with all the general things about procrastination that we are all familiar with.  Some might find this book helpful.  It does cover a broad range of topics from depression to marketing.
	I received this book from NetGalley.
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As an artist myself, I found this book so encouraging. The author’s perspective as someone who is not an artist, but a friend & mentor to artists, was so unique and I do think places them in a position to be more objective. The advice is helpful, practical, and encouraging. It emphasizes the enormous value of making art while not over-romanticizing the process. This would make a great graduation gift! I would recommend it for fans of Julia Cameron and anyone who feels the need to create, whether they consider themselves an artist or not.
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this book was helpful and uplifting it inspired me to be more creative and make art in ways I wouldn't have before
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I received this book from the publisher through Netgalley for review and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Author is a psychology counselor, specialist in women's studies and gender studies, an activist. This book is written about and for creatives of all walks of life. With topical chapter headings, prompts and questions for further reflection,she delves into the value and purpose of art; of any creative choice; in one's daily life. Her religious viewpoint is panentheism which is addressed in final chapter. If this is your forte, enjoy. Take what you like and discard the rest. I can only address the structure of the text and not the full content as it wasn't to my personal usefulness.
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"We are not responsible for our first thought. We are responsible for our second thought and first action."

Don't think it's bad, because I gave it 2 stars. 2 stars to me literally mean "it was okay".

I just expected a totally different book based on the title. I thought an artist will lighten me up, tell me secrets, or reapeat the forever repeated facts, instead the author stated at the beginning that she doesn't consider herself an artist, but she works with them, so here is how she can help.

So what this book is about exactly?
The main titles are: Time, Work, Asking, Money, Fear, Grief, Other people, Education, Thinking + Feeling, Isolation, Marketing, Death + God (not necessarily in a religious way).

I would actually recommend this to those who need some guidance both in their art or life in general. The target audience may be artists, but in my opinion this book could help anybody. I mena, who couldn't use some tips on time and money management?

But I watch and read so much stuff about writing and self-improvement, that I didn't get new informations. Although I got two amazing quotes, so that's a win itself.

"Don't believe everything you think."
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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for sending me a digital copy in exchange for an honest review.


Beth Pickens is a counsellor who focuses on working with artists, and her book has been compared to Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way for millenials. I can understand why - I got through one chapter of the latter, but found this book much more accessible.

She gently but firmly guides the reader through chapters that will help them continue practising their art, no matter what medium. Things we shy away from because of doubt, or lacking time or  . . . Networking, ugh. 

Pickens provides a perspective that is friendly and honest, but also acknowledges her own identities and how they inform her view - where she has privilege and where she doesn't. Pickens notes that she may not be the right resource for some, but encourages you to seek out people who can speak to your experience. 

I loved this book, and will be buying a physical copy. I've screenshot so many pages that really struck a chord or made me challenge old thinking patterns about my own art. A couple of the exercises Pickens mentions made me pause. Or avoid them for a while (ahem, the Ask list, anyone?)

I did skip a chapter on death as I am not really in a place to ponder existential questions right now. 

" Your life is finite, and you should make your art. Things will get in the way and you should still  make your art.

Return to your art, over and over again."
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Make Your Art No Matter What is a well written practical guide full of anecdotes and advice by art advocate Beth Pickens. Due out 6th April 2021 from Chronicle Books, it's 208 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats. 

It's not much of an overstatement to say that everyone I know has had their lives impacted in major and minor ways because of the pandemic and the societal shifts which have occurred to a greater degree the last year (and a little bit). There have been upheavals in travel, culture, performance art, museums, studios, makers' groups, libraries, concerts, everywhere, top to bottom. Additionally, humans are social creatures, we create because we *need to*... and those psychological and creative outlets have been severely curtailed or cut off altogether. 

This is a timely look at how to continue to make art practice and creativity a non-negotiable part of our existence. These are concrete suggestions from an experienced advocate, applicable for all ages. When I read the author's words about social justice and advocacy work they resonated so deeply. I have the same cares, the same feelings (justice, equity, reproductive health advocacy for women no matter where they live, disability action and access, LGBTQIA+ rights, education access, freedoms, safety, etc etc).. and have also *needed* art, music, expression, to gather and maintain some sort of positive energy in my own life surrounded by desperate inequality, unfairness, danger, and the general seemingly unrelenting sh*tstorm that is much of world existence these days. I'm a healthcare professional, I've dedicated my life and my intellect to improving the lives of my fellow humans, but I get overwhelmed and burnt out. I have needed art to survive (and thrive).

This is a valuable resource for artists, with concrete advice and guidance. It's also conversely a good read for audiences and patrons of the arts. I would recommend this as a meaningful selection for library acquisition as well as for students and admirers of the arts.

Four stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
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A creative counsellor and artist coach, Beth Pickens begins her book with a love letter to all artists: “Dear Reader, I love artists. You are my favourite people and my life is more livable because of your work. I’m so grateful for what you make and put into the world. All my life, art has facilitated my ability to have feelings during disorientating grief, challenged me to grow even when I didn’t want to, introduced me to crucial information I couldn’t find elsewhere, and helped me become more of myself”.

She continues, “The full scope of human emotion becomes available to me and is then intensified by art. Art tells me that I am not alone in any feeling, thought, or experience. Art has saved my life and the lives of many of my loved ones”. Boom! The first paragraph already insists that the book is a trusted companion which every artist needs to read and own. It’s a long time since I read such honest, simple and passionate first lines.

Pickens goes on to identify a number of major roadblocks in artists’ lives: time; work; asking, money; fear; grief; other people; education; thinking and feeling; isolation; marketing, and death and God. These blocks all have a chapter of their own prefaced with a relevant and carefully selected quote, and a conclusion and list of further reading at the end of the book.

This is a wonderful handbook of enthusiasms, epiphanies and support, both for those who have been involved within an art form for many years, and the perplexed who might be wondering where to begin. Pickens writes beautifully. She is both a fearless and arrestingly tender kind of writer whom one never doubts is rooting for artists everywhere. While her writing is warm and grounded, she is working at the margins of the sacred.

I fervently hope that great things await this invaluable book, not least of all a wide and international readership.

A huge thank you to @NetGalley and @ChronicleBooks for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you to the author, publisher, and netgalley for access to this publication in exchange for honest feedback.

I am approaching this book as someone who is NOT a creative in the sense that I'm not trying to make art, nor am I trying to pursue a creative career. I do enjoy the arts, and I do (I suppose) want to get better at my hobbies. I also would like to support others who ARE attempting to do art or pursue artistic careers. I requested this book because I saw it on a Goodreads giveaway and thought it looked interesting. Nowadays, there are so many routes to obtaining self-employment or small business, that I suppose this book really is modern and relevant. I decided to take a look inside and see what I could glean from this book and if it would be relevant to, say, parts of my audience who want to become authors.

I think that this book covers a broad range of issues and themes. As a result, it doesn't go far into depth into everything, but rather skims through all of these elements; so, this guide could be serve as a springboard for further exploration of whatever resonates with the reader. I think some of the more important sections are the financial, educational, and marketing chapters. These are where you will get something other than what you can read online or on a "you can do it!" poster.
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