Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no cost to me for the purposes of review. I received no other compensation and was not influenced in any way by anyone associated with the book. The review is the response and result of my own reading of the book.
To be knowledgeable about literature, to be experienced in masterpieces of art, and to be conscious of dimensions of music earns a person the title of cultured, refined, and even sophisticated. However, artists themselves occupy a unique place in our society. Many are considered eccentric, some are fascinating, and most are thought to be impoverished. To Jeff Goins though, this picture of an artist is a myth and not only is not realistic now but never has been.
After the picture of the starving artist that has been unveiled to us for many years, this is a bold claim. Yet, Goins has endeavored to not only demonstrate how untrue that picture is, but uses examples in order to demonstrate to ‘artists’ that it is both possible and worthwhile to make an honest living being an artist. Real Artists Don’t Starve accomplishes that task by presenting readers with plenty of artists, both known and unknown, and examines their life choices to show how they indeed did make a living as an artist. Using these examples, Goins has outlined three major points, mind-set, market, and money and expounded upon each through the course of four chapters for each point (12 chapters in all).
One of the most fascinating aspects of this read is not so much the profundity of new ideas, but the resurrection of old ideas. Considering that this is a book that is meant to derive much from historical examples, that should not be unexpected, however, it is one of the most appreciated aspects of the book. He emphasizes aspects such as finding patrons and finding an apprenticeship in order to hone one’s own craft. Points such as those also point to another major aspect of the author’s supporting arguments: an emphasis on working with others. Throughout the book, he instills into the readers the need not to work in seclusion, but instead to collaborate with others. In fact, all of part two (market) is not about how to ‘market’ yourself or your product, but instead is a section on collaboration. Finally, Goins isn’t giving a false hope of that big break, but instead, this is a book that calls upon a person to work.
With that said, there are two aspects that are troubling about this book. The first is that the author sets forth that the goal is not necessarily to get rich but to at least maintain a livable wage. However, despite this claim, much of the writing still seems to emphasize the get rich now fantasy. The mindset is not to get rich quick but seems to promote if you work you will get rich with your work. Certainly to earn a living is not wrong and even to have money is not wrong, and that’s not the issue here. The concern is the focus that is put on money even when saying that is not the goal. That leads to the second area of concern. There are some aspects here are simply unbiblical. The book makes no claim to Christian, but as Christians, we should evaluate all books through the lens of the perfect book, and in this case, this one falls short. Jeff Goins promotes concepts such as visualizing who you are in order to be who you want (see chapter one) or one should embrace a certain level of stubbornness (see chapter four or chapter nine).
The reality is that this book has been written for a particular audience. I was a bit surprised to find it amongst the books for me to review because it seemed out of place based upon the normal target audience, but here it is. As a result, this book is only useful to those who are seeking to cultivate their own crafts more. Therefore, it is a useful book for those people. However, in light of some of the contradictions to Scripture, I would urge great caution when reading it. There are some good points to learn from, but one must be discerning when reading Real Artists Don’t Starve.