Make Your Art No Matter What

Moving Beyond Creative Hurdles

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Pub Date 06 Apr 2021 | Archive Date 06 Apr 2021

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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.

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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...

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EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9781452182957
PRICE $16.95 (USD)

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Average rating from 44 members

Featured Reviews

A helpful and inspiring book for artists in which Beth Pickens gives practical and motivational advice for developing a. artistic proces. Life’s knows many obstacles and distractions, but if you are an artist, you need to make your art!

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This is a helpful, uplifting book for artists of all types. Pickens has spent years helping artists meet their creative goals and she gives great advice, but it's her underlying supportive tone that I appreciated the most. Most of her experience is with artists who are POC, LGBTQ and other communities that are frequently marginalized. She speaks to this often as she busts myths and acknowledges the real differences that artists create under. For instance, she talks about the fact that many of her clients felt like failures because their peers were able to buy their own homes at a young age until they realized that most of those peers had help from family or other assistance that made it possible. She talks about the fact that you don't have to be able to fully support yourself with your art in order to be an artist (or a successful one) and gently walks you through topics like money, marketing, depression, isolation, education, community and so much more. It's all great advice and has me energized to get back to my poetry and other artistic pursuits.

Our family recently bought a 120 year old church a block from our house to turn into a community arts center (lest that sound too extravagant, it was the price of a used car and currently has no running water and minimal heat). We've been filling it with musical instruments, art and crafting supplies, music and poetry books, costumes, props, and other supplies for the day when covid is over and we can open it for the community (you can peek here and here if you want to see) for music, dance, improv, crafts and community for all ages. This is a book I'd like to stock at the church once we open it, and one I recommend for artists of all types.

I read a temporary digital ARC of this book for review.

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Both inspiring and informative, this is a great look into what it means to be an artist. There's a lot of roadblocks along the way to becoming great and most are self-created.

You have to overcome yourself if you want to achieve great things, and this book should help the reader face their fears and be prepared to overcome anything in their way.

Great read and resource. The cover art is simple but attractive and would be a great coffee book or display piece.

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A book for artists that talks about things that get in the way of creating and suggestions for moving through them. Topics include: time, work, asking, money, fear, grief, other people, education, thinking and feeling, isolation, marketing, and death and God. Not all were applicable but I got a lot out of it. Highly recommend.

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This book is exactly what the title suggests. A book to help artists make their art no matter what stands in their way. It breaks down the common issues (or at least what the author determines as common) that many artists encounter and then seeks to give practical tools that will help. The chapters are each self-contained and have multiple exercises to help with the topic. I appreciated this organizational approach and the author's conversational tone. It makes it easy to pick up the book and go directly to what you think you need help with. In the early pages, I found some good insight but as I continued I resonated less with the content and advice. Eventually, I found myself skimming. I found many of the personal antidotes and the focus on critical theory categorization of people to be offputting.
My sense is that how helpful this book is will depend on the reader's past experience with similar content. Other artist-related books they have read, lectures they have attended or therapy they have paid for will impact how useful they might find this. If you already understand CBT then the write and release exercises will seem obvious. If you have read anything about basic finance that chapter will not have much to offer. Personally, it just didn't pack as much of a punch as other art books I've read–but then that might be the problem.

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Just like the rest of life, making art doesn't always go smoothly. Beth Pickens offers bits of practical advice, like that friend who listens to you, cuts through the junk and asks the question you need to consider. She also goes beyond the expected topics of time, money and fear. Dealing with grief, asking for something, feelings about education, and hating the thought of having to 'sell yourself'. These areas and more are addressed. Some will be more useful than others. Overall I found this to be a useful book that doesn't oversell it's message.

Thanks to Chronicle Books and NetGalley for an advance copy.

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I may be a little too old for this book, but I'm giving it 4 stars because I really want to buy this book many of the young people in my life. This book is great because it's filled with little wisdom nuggets, broken up by catchy headers, and has useful chapter titles. I envision it being a book you skim through and then come back to as you need it. I liked the subtle artwork inside the book as well - very soothing.

It covers everything from fear and anxiety, to marketing your art, to establishing a workflow and more. It's like a little toolkit for talking yourself off the edge when confronted with obstacles that artists often face. The author also includes resources for further reading. Not a book I would have bought for myself as a young person, but one I would have cherished as a gift.

One thing I did get from the book was the license to call myself an artist, at least in my head. The chapter on what makes someone an artist really rang true to me. I appreciated the author's use of their own experiences to help illustrate the points backed up by the sources they cited.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC

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When I picked this book, I expected something motivational or inspirational. It is that, sure, but it's something better: it's practical. I offers a realistic, clear-eyed view of the possible challenges for artists to make their art and offers specific advice to overcome these hurdles. What a nice surprise!

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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As a writer going through a creative block, I really appreciated this book. It's practical but also inspiring, and contains plenty of good advice for persevering through your art.

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Make Your Art No Matter What covers advice and strategies with artists in mind. Pickens narrows down topics that come up in her sessions with artists as a psychologist. Topics include: time, work, asking, money, fear, grief, other people, education, thinking & feeling, isolation, marketing, and death & God.

This book was great for its unique approach for supporting artists from a counselling perspective. The sections dedicated to topics that come up frequently in Pickens' practice were informative and provided tangible support for topics that often leave artists feeling blocked or unable to continue their work as effectively as they would like.

I found the sections helpful as they broke down certain issues and gave concrete examples of how to fix or deal with them. The examples of situations where these issues had come up were also particularly helpful to relate to which I found made the book more realistic and readable overall.

I think the tortured artist trope is not 100% accurate, but I do feel the creative people in my life often encounter some blocks when trying to make it in these circles. It can be a very tough career path and disheartening without the proper supports in place to thrive. Make Your Art No Matter What is a handbook I would definitely pass on to an artist looking for more tools to keep embarking on their journey no matter what life throws at them.

Thank you NetGalley and to the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Very informative and helpful guide for motivating yourself to create work. The time part felt almost opposites for me as aha trust that just needs to force myself to do the work. Since this is geared towards artists, it’s a bit wordy for me. Well written and insightful, but I think it would have helped to have a few illustrations of inspiring artwork throughout the book. It felt like they used large fonts to be creative, but I don’t think a few images would hurt. We are visual thinkers when it comes to learning about the arts. In the end, I’ll likely buy the actual book and read back through this from time to time.

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As someone looking to develop and take their art from a hobby into hopefully something more, I have definitely cherry-picked some useful practical nuggets from this book.

The author covers a wide range of topics including money, fear, education, isolation, grief and more. I found the practical tips such as approaching potential mentors, asking others for help and advice, sourcing ideas for art and exhibition opportunities particularly useful. I also love the idea of a Personal Inventory Day - a day - the same date each month - for getting on top of admin matters.

The book goes much further than just the practical side of being an artist and talks about therapy, isolation (and when might be too much), death and grief. There is a chapter on education but this is completely geared to those living in the US and didn't mean much to me being in the UK.

This isn't a book I would probably be referring back to on a regular basis but I have picked up some new and practical tips to try. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the advance copy.

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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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There are innumerable (almost) books out there for artists, many of which repeat each other. I own about half of them and actually was pleasantly surprised by this book. Creative block is a huge problem for most artists at least at some point, and the advice given in many of these books boils down to: find your muse, set a working schedule, create your niche. These suggestions do have their place, but often the ability to move ahead with one's art has more of the feel of an existential crisis that resists simple solutions. So, imagine my surprise when I opened Ms. Pickens' book and found a treasure chest of valuable wisdom for people like me. The chapters present actually useful considerations on issues like "time" and "work", yes, but also on less obvious challenges such as grief and other people. The author is a practicing therapist who has been through the wars with artists who are locked in the tortuous and torturous pathways-cum-dead-ends that live and multiple in their minds. They (we) can play endless dialogue games about what keeps them from picking up the paint brush or sitting down at the computer or continuing to map out that dance routine. We know the problem and "solutions" but between Point A and Point B we somehow slide off the edge of the earth and land on shame, fear, or other catastrophic continents. (Do any of the metaphors in this review help?) Ms. Pickens has new insights into all of this, is empathetic, and - wait for it - creative. I heartily recommend this book as a prescription for what ails the creatives described above.

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Make Your Art No Matter What is a treasure trove of advice for creative professionals (or anyone, really) who struggle to make their art. Pickens is a counselor who works with artists, and her tone in this book is encouraging and non-judgemental. She focuses each chapter on a different common difficulty artists face, and gives realistic, practical steps to move past these blocks. Her emphasis on balancing work, enjoyment, and mental health is refreshing. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to include more creativity in their life.

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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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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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