~I'm super duper excited to be writing about Danielle Krysa's A Big Important Art Book (Now With Women!) This is the first book on my 2019 reading list and I'm definitely going to have to make more time for reading if I want to finish the other 11 books by the end of the year! Anyways, I'll start with a quick overview/summary, share some of my thoughts and responses to the book and then list some of my favourite quotes from the inspiring artists in the book!
Danielle Krysa, also known as the Jealous curator compiles interviews and information about a variety of contemporary female artists. Her goal is to shed light on talented contemporary artists because art history has not been so kind in recording the work and lives of female artists in the past. There are 15 chapters, each on a different theme/art genre. In each chapter she starts by talking about the theme and providing an exercise that is geared towards it to get the creative juices flowing. Then she gives the profiles of three women artist and describes what each artist was like from a young age, then goes into how they found their way and asks what advice they have for other artists.
My first response to this book is that it's very pretty!
There are multiple large photos of the artists' work and the layout and design is very consistent and appealing. Danielle uses images of her own work as backdrops or to perfectly fill white spaces or spreads and a collage of the other artists' work to start the chapter. Although I do wish that there was a photo to go along with the historical artists that are mentioned in the end of the chapter. But I know that there is only so much space in a big art book and I find that I end up learning more when I go to google their name to see photos of their work.
So aesthetics aside, the artists chosen come from a variety of backgrounds and experience and are all very inspirational! Since each chapter has profiles on artists who work along the same theme or method of making you are able to start reading the book from whatever point you want. Each chapter begins with an exercise centered around the chapter theme. For example in Chapter 3: Bring the Outside in Danielle guides you on how to make a collage inspired from the outside world. While some of these exercises felt very familiar from art school, there were some new ones that I quite enjoyed. I found these were also a good reminder that not everything you make has to be perfect or the final piece. It's important to take the time to practice, experiment, and enjoy the process!
Finally, this book has been so helpful for me at this point in my life. Getting started out in the real world as a practicing artist is extremely scary. I feel like I'm constantly worried about what direction I'm going in and questioning everything I do. It also doesn't help that I find I need social media to promote my work but get caught up in comparing myself to other artists who are doing so well. But part of me knows that comparison, although toxic, can be constructive if approached the right way. This is where Danielle excels and how she even begin the Jealous Curator. In her Big Important Art Book, Danielle shows how there isn't necessarily one right way to become an artist and that everyone creates their own path in life. By looking at other artists' struggles and successes we can empathize with their journey and understand how their lessons learned can be applied to an understanding of our path in life. That is why I have included Elspeth Pratt's quote below because ultimately no amount of advice or wise words will prompt someone to follow their passion. (I know a quote about how advice isn't very helpful is ironic, but bear with me!)
I believe understanding the parts of different artist's life can help us understand what is the most helpful for us. For instance, I personally get more stressed when my working space is messy and right now Ryan and I share our desk and it is right beside the bed, so it's not the best working environment for me, (no offense Ryan!). But this is something I found in common with many successful artists, is that they have a space specifically dedicated to making art. This is similar to Natalie Baxter's story where she was making colourful stuffed guns and was running out of space in her bedroom! But she went on to complete residencies which provided her with a studio and may other resources to focus on her art with less stress.
Danielle is completely encouraging of artist's work and their stories and it is very refreshing to see this supportive approach to viewing other artist's work. The world can seem very negative at times, but Danielle reminds us that showing love and appreciation for one another is the better way to live our lives. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this blog post and have learned that rather than comparing others successes to your work in progress, to learn from their journeys and understand how to better pursue your passions!
Some of my favorite quotes from the artists:
"My work started with a personal need to find home in a metaphorical sense-to be quieter in my mind to take my creative instincts seriously and pursue them with all my might. It meant being more patient and taking more care with everything I did. I learned that you have to take your pleasure seriously."
~Gujan Aylawadi from pg. 48 of Chapter 3: Obsess, Meditate, Repeat
"Breakages happen mostly when I'm not in the right frame of mind: when my head is not with the work or when I'm feeling stressed and unbalanced. The way the works flow is also a mirror of how I am within myself-and it goes both ways. The work work needs me to make it, and I need the work to keep me balanced."
~Susana Bauer from pg. 72 of Chapter 4: Bring the Outside in
"Arrive vulnerable, leave empowered."
~Peregrine Honig from pg. 147 of Chapter 8: Work With Women
"From my own personal experience and my many years of teaching. I have learned that giving advice is not a good idea. The truly important task is to provide the space, stimulus, and opportunities for people to develop and follow their own line of inquiry."
~Elspeth Pratt from pg. 246 of Chapter 13: Explore Abstraction
"I realized that I am the one that has to feed the system-when I make the work I want to make, it will come back to me."
~Tina Berning from pg. 267 of Chapter 14: Layer, Layers of Layers