Ask a Bookseller: ‘Art and Fear’

Ask a Bookseller Podcast
Ask a Bookseller

This one’s for the creatives.

Used bookstores can be a treasure trove of great reads, old and new, on a huge variety of topics.

Dickson St. Bookshop in Fayetteville, Ark., is one such spot. Bookseller Elaine Eckert says she gets particularly excited when she comes across a copy of her favorite nonfiction book, “Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking,” by David Bayles and Ted Orland.

Eckert says she first picked up a copy two decades ago, and she still has that copy with its margin notes and underlines.

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Written in straightforward, unpretentious language, the book urges people to keep doing the good and hard work of creating something new in the world.

“Whenever you’re tearing apart layers of your soul and putting them onto canvas or music notes or into words, there’s always that self-doubt,” concedes Eckert, who is also an amateur painter.

A book cover
"Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking" by David Bayles and Ted Orland.
Continuum Press

She easily located her favorite sentence in the book that reminds her to keep going: “Those who continue to make art, or those who have learned how to continue, or more precisely, have learned how not to quit.”

It’s a simple idea, Eckert says, and one worth returning to.

She recommends this book as a good companion for those moments when creating feels scary or weighted down by self-doubt, or when our progress doesn’t align with our expectations.