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"Find Your Own Voice, Then Exaggerate It": New School Year, New Jerry Saltz Tips

It was three years ago, but the words still resonate and take on a new life each year. In 2016, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York magazine art critic and sometimes SVA Summer Residency faculty member Jerry Saltz shared his hard-earned advice for artists—and creative professionals of all stripes—with a rapt audience at a talk hosted by MFA Fine Arts.

Saltz is taking things one step further in 2020, turning these salient tips and many more—some of which appeared in his viral cover story last year for New York—into a book, titled How To Be An Artist, due out via Penguin's Riverhead Books in March of next year (March 17, to be precise).

Described as "irreverent and inspiring advice for awakening your creative potential," we've been lucky enough to get a sneak peek, courtesy Saltz and his publisher. With the new academic year already well underway, now is as good a time as any to reveal some of Saltz's latest, soon-to-be timeless advice and bon mots.

1. Don't be embarrassed. … People may think you're abnormal or a hack. Fine.

2. Art is not about understanding… or mastery… Forget about making things that are understood. I don't know what Abba means, but I love it.

3. Work, work, work… Every artist and writer I know claims to work in their sleep. I do all the time.

4. Develop forms of practice. … For instance, on the subway, while waiting or sitting around, practice drawing your own hands.

5. Make your mark. … If you're worried about drawing, start by making simple marks. Tell yourself you're just playing, experimenting, outlining, seeing what looks like what. If you can write, you already know how to draw.

6. Find your own voice… then exaggerate it.

7. All art is subjective.

8. Learn the difference between subject matter and content. … When you look at art, make subject matter the first thing you see—and then stop seeing it.

9. Artists must be vampires. … Stay up late every night with other artists around your age. Show up.

10. Make an enemy of envy. … Envy looks at others but blinds you.

Related post: 'Have an Elephant Skin...': Jerry Saltz's Top 10 Tips for Artists

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