Mid-Summer Reading List

Submitted by FreshArts on Wed, Jul 13th at 4:14 pm

Well Houstonians, it looks like its that time of the year again.  The heat and humidity has introduced an indoor-only bias to our summer schedule.  The staff here at Fresh Arts feels the same way - so we've decided to compile a mid-summer reading list for artists to help you hone your professional development skills while minimizing sweat stains.  So turn up the A/C, grab a nice cold glass of sweet tea, and curl up with one of these favorites.  

Marci's Pick
Executive Director

This monograph by Boulder, Colorado native Jim Collins discusses leadership and performance ideology that create successful organizations in the social sector.  This text accompanies the original Good to Great and extends by challenging the idea that ingredients to excellence such as discipline, quantitative analysis, and strong leadership are "business skills."  This book is perfect for non-profit administrators, especially those who are looking to improve the performance of their organization without abandoning their primary goal of community service.  

  • "We must reject the idea—well-intentioned, but dead wrong—that the primary path to greatness in the social sectors is to become "more like a business." Most businesses—like most of anything else in life—fall somewhere between mediocre and good. Few are great. When you compare great companies with good ones, many widely practiced business norms turn out to correlate with mediocrity, not greatness. So, then, why would we want to import the practices of mediocrity into the social sectors? . . .That's when it dawned on me: we need a new language. The critical distinction is not between business and social, but between great and good. We need to reject the naive imposition of the "language of business" on the social sectors, and instead jointly embrace a language of greatness."  
  •                             Buy on Amazon

Angela's Pick
Program Manager

Author, sociologist, and avid contemporary art publication contributor Sarah Thornton details the complicated, sophisticated, lucrative subculture that is the contemporary art world.  Thornton uses a day-to-day format to recount observations of wealth, taste, and popularity with a light-hearted and gossipy tone.  Seven Days in the Art World will be a favorite of alternative gallerists and artists who crave the hustle. 

  • "Although the art world reveres the unconventional, it is rife with conformity. Artists make work that "looks like art" and behave in ways that enhance stereotypes. Curators pander to the expectations of their peers and their museum boards. Collectors run in herds to buy work by a handful of fashionable painters. Critics stick their finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing so as to "get it right". Originality is not always rewarded, but some people take real risks and innovate, which gives a raison d'être to the rest.” 
  • Buy on Amazon

Ariel's Pick
Membership and Marketing Manager

Malcolm Gladwell offers some big-picture insight with regards to marketing concepts.  The Tipping Point is a motif that refers to the moment where a simple but carefully constructed campaign catches momentum and causes public action - whether commercial or societal.  By using the concept of an epidemic as a metaphor for the spread of ideas, Gladwell dissects the success of case studies ranging from the NYC crime rate to the effectiveness of Paul Revere.  Calling all Marketers: move this book to the #1 position on your reading list!

  • "To look closely at complex behaviors like smoking or suicide or crime is to appreciate how suggestible we are in the face of what we see and hear, and how acutely sensitive we are to even the smallest details of everyday life. That's why social change is so volatile and so often inexplicable, because it is the nature of all of us to be volatile and inexplicable.”

Sarah's Pick
Operations and Administration Assistant

If you've ever gawked at the auction price of a Damien Hurst piece, The $12 Million Stuffed Shark by Don Thompson is the chance to get your sneak peek into the economics of the art world.  Thompson interviews collectors, auction house executives, and artists to consider multiple perspectives of those involved with the production and consumption of contemporary art.  Though from the perspective of an economist and marketing expert, Thompson knows it is not just about the money.  He shows well-rounded knowledge about conceptual art, trends, social status and other subjective contributing factors that determine a piece's market value.  We recommend this book to artists, art patrons, and anyone striving to be a participant in the high-end art market - time to learn what you're getting yourself into...

  • "What do you hope to acquire when you bid at a prestigious evening auction at Sotheby’s? A bundle of things: a painting of course, but hopefully also a new dimension to how people see you. As Robert Lacey described it in his book about Sotheby’s, you are bidding for class, for a validation of your taste.” 

Madison's Pick
Resource Coordinator

Subtitled The Ultimate Business Manual for Every Practicing Artist, this text from Karen Atkinson and GYST-Ink is more of a textbook and instructional manual hybrid.  GYST includes interactive worksheets and sample forms for common fundamentals of a successful professional art practice.  For example, these worksheets  include theoretical exercises such as personal assessments and goal setting as well as logistical resources such as sample budgets and collector documentation.  To really get the most of this book, the reader has to commit to participating and engaging as much as possible.  Therefore, we suggest this book to students, scholars, and those familiar with the library grind.  

  • "Far too often artists find themselves having to compromise their art and their life because they were not taught accurate up-to-date methods for dealing with business situations. Because of this lack of preparedness artists miss out on valuable opportunities, financial rewards, and access to receptive audiences. This book aims to help all artists everywhere avoid these pitfalls and get on the track to success on their own terms. Whether you are a gallery- bound artist, a public artist, an emerging artist, a hobbyist, a crafts-person, a student, or a seasoned artist in need of a tune up, this manual is meant for you."

So here's our list, but we'd love to hear from you! What art book are you reading this summer? Any favorites? Any disappointments? Leave your thoughts in the comments, and best of all… get reading! 

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