The Business of Art by Lee Caplin (3rd edition)
A Review by Andy Derryberry
In interpersonal commerce there is nothing I value more than honesty. What I found in The Business of Art was honesty that should chase the faint of heart away from the artist's life. If you want to feed yourself, much less a family, with the fruits of your artistic endeavors then be prepared for a lean and probably mean life. These are not editorial opinions. These are live reports from the front lines.
Not that producing art will do anything but improve and ennoble. It's all the other messiness of life that creates the pain. Yes you will suffer if you want to commit 100% to your artistic endeavor. The broader world is not interested. For the most part it is too involved in the materialistic chase to know or care about art. Art is only useful to one-up the independently wealthy, and the value of the art is in the game not in the art.
The Business of Art doesn't discourage the pursuit of one's art though. It is just honest in expressing what the artist will have to deal with in the non-art part of life (that is everything besides the actual production of the art). Yes, just about everyone must deal with food, taxes, broken down cars, leaking plumbing, hospital emergency rooms, etc. The book has a good deal of valuable, practical information for artists or anyone who wants to manage their life somewhat instead of being run over by it. For the non-artist the book can be a fun look at the life lived by some folks who may actually end up in a history book.
And there is a great deal of information on how the art world operates today. Is that the way the art world will operate in the future? Who knows. However, being somewhat prepared is better than being a bleating sheep in a world of long fangs. Knowledge empowers for the known and also the unknown.
So do you buy the book? If you have any interest in the artist life or just want to plug into a specific form of reality, go ahead and buy it. In addition to practical information that anyone can use, you may find that the grass is greener across the fence because your neighbor's lawn mower is broken.
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