“Creative Resilience” by Erica Ginsberg, A Book for All Artists

The Marlowsphere (Blog #160)

Once in a while you pick up a book, start reading it and quickly realize there’s deep value, the voice of pragmatic experience, wisdom, and guidance in between the front and back covers. Such a book is Erica Ginsberg’s Creative Resilience: Reclaiming Your Power as an Artist (Bold Story Press, 2023).

Whatever aspect of the fine and performing arts you’re in, whether you are a fulltime artist making your living through your artistic practice or an “amateur” for which art is a sideline or something in between, Creative Resilience is a must for your bedside reading before the lights go out, or sitting on a beach, or resting in a hammock, or having with you to refer to while you’re creating your art.

In a way, the book’s sub-title is misleading. It presumes on some level the reader is someone who has lost the power of making art. Ginsberg’s book touches anyone in the world of the fine and performing arts, whether you’re active or licking your wounds from too much rejection. Once you get into two or three chapters you will recognize yourself in the words, paragraphs, and pages regardless of what stage of artistic life you are experiencing. Creative Resilience is for the beginner, the artist at the middle stage of a career, or someone at the height of their skills and powers.

Certainly, this is not the first book to deal with the emotionally fraught issues of making art and failure and/or success. Several books have preceded this one, among them:

  • Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking
    by David Bayles and Ted Orland
  • The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
    by Steven Pressfield
  • Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All
    by Tom Kelley and David Kelley
  • Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better: Wise Advice for Leaning into the Unknown
    by Pema Chödrön
  • The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
    by Jack Canfield
  • Art Is the Highest Form of Hope & Other Quotes by Artists
    by Phaidon Editors

Art and Fear and The War of Art are two of the earlier books Ginsberg references in an appendix at the end of her book. What distinguishes Erica Ginsbergher work, however, is its presentation style in words and organization. Each of her 23 chapters are short and easily digested. This book could be absorbed in one sitting. There’s also an element of interactivity. At the end of each chapter is a “Creative Check-In,” where Ginsberg provides the reader with an opportunity to reflect on the content of the chapter and essentially prods the reader to reflect on and apply what has just been read to the reader’s own “artistic” life.

Her choice of language is straight forward and clear. She quotes other artists who were especially interviewed for the book. She quotes many other artists who are well-known and some not so well known. Regardless, throughout you always have the feeling Ms. Ginsberg knows whereof she speaks, that she has experienced everything she talks about, that her advice and encouragements come from a wealth of struggle, failure, pain, revision, reframing, success, and personal and artistic growth.

Creative Resilience is one of those volumes that should be on every artist’s bookshelf to be read and re-read at least once a year, or at least referred to from time to time regardless of artistic failure or success. It covers a lot of bases regarding the fragile world of art making. It’s the kind of book you can cozy up to and feel as if someone is talking to you like an understanding friend.

Eugene Marlow, MBA, Ph.D. is himself an active artist: composer, arranger, musician, journalist, author, producer, documentarian, and educator.

Eugene Marlow, MBA, Ph.D., © 2024

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