There are tons of business books out there, but if you are looking for some guidance for your development as an artist, you hardly find anything substantial.
Regardless, if you are a singer, a painter or a ballet dancer, being an artist means much more than simply knowing your craft. Real artistry happens on an uplifted level.
A former bandmate always recited Luther Allison’s quote:”Leave the ego, play the music and love the people.”
That’s what it’s basically all about.
To help you gain more understanding for the inner change, that has to happen to enhance your artistry, I picked out my personal 3 best books for artists.
Zen In The Art Of Archery
I’ll start with this one as it was the first book I was introduced to by a former vocal coach.
It was at a point in my singing progress, where I stuck when it came to releasing my voice, letting go. I was attached to the concept of making-the-tone and didn’t find the right keys to shift my mind.
The story is about the time, when Herigel -a German professor of philosophy- moves to Tokyo for a new job. He wants to take the opportunity and learn about the Zen philosophy in practice.
In Japan, there are certain arts available for that purpose, like swordsmanship or flower arrangement (which his wife took). As he already had some experience in archery, he took this one and expected to make fast progress. He couldn’t be more wrong.
The essence and the highlight of this book is where he learns the hard way, that ZEN is actually nothing you can just study.
Instructed by his master, he often mentions that for a western guy, it’s almost impossible to really grasp that concept.
Eventually, it takes him 6 years to comprehend, what it means that “you don’t shoot”, but “it shoots”.
Why do I recommend the book?
To become a true artist, it’s imperative to develop the art of detaching your ego. Zen in the Art of Archery will not make you understand Zen, but will give you some valuable input for further development on your artistic journey.
Have you ever watched a ballet dancer doing a jump?
Scientists estimated that one of the greatest ballet dancers -Rudolf Nureyev- actually jumped higher than he physically was able to.
Kenny Werners Effortless Mastery is primarily written for musicians. Werner is a jazz pianist and so you can find some stuff about proper playing and practicing in this book, which also applies for other musical instruments, including singing.
Nevertheless, the book isn’t about practicing so much that it becomes effortless to play even the hardest passage.
No, Effortless Mastery is much more about a state of mind. It’s about psychological impact and it’s about how a wrong note can still sound perfectly right.
Werner describes, how he used meditation to enter this state of mind and connect it with playing music. Even if you don’t fancy meditation, it’s extremely enriching to learn about this concept.
Why could Nureyev jump beyond his physical limits? The answer is, it wasn’t himself, who did the jump.
I can highly recommend reading this book and gaining some new perspective about how to approach music.
This book has nothing to do with how to reach a higher artistic level. It’s neither about spiritual nor psychological aspects of artistry.
Crushing it! is a hands-on eye-opener from buddy Gary Vaynerchuck, how you could and should use social media to promote your art.
In 2009 Gary published his first book Crush it!. In a time, where Facebook or twitter hadn’t had that level of inevitability to business success as they have today. Back then, he was more of a visionary and one of the first, who actively used social media to support his wine business.
I don’t want to go too deep into the numbers. Lets just say, he became tremendously successful and rich with his strategy.
And some of them, who followed his advice, too.
Basically, whether you like it or not, anyone, who wants to build up a successful business has to master social media. Especially for artists, it’s a priceless opportunity to get in personal touch with your fans and grow your base.
What I like most about GaryVee is his level of commitment.
Follow him on Twitter and you know what I mean.
He really seems to be a genuine guy, who walks his talk.
So, if you are not only about developing yourself, but look for an opportunity to share your art with the world and probably make some money out of it, you have to grab yourself a copy of amazing Crushing it!
How To Use The Information
Books, in general, are an incredible valuable source to learn something new and develop yourself.
Anyways, only reading won’t get you anywhere.
In order to make the best out of it, I suggest, you follow this procedure:
1) Read it thoroughly and at least 3 times
2) Explain, what you’ve learned to someone else. Doing so, you will find out, if you really understood the content.
3) Apply the information to your own situation.
In my journey to develop myself as well as my art, I also read a lot of books.
Among all, only 3 books really stood out. In Zen in the Art of Archery, Effortless Mastery and Crushing it! I found valuable information to develop a wider understanding of how to become a true artist, as well as how to share and brand my art.
If you are interested what else may lie behind a note or a brush stroke, then go on read these books and use the information.
I’d be happy, if you share your thoughts about the books are that topic here with me.