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Art advice with Beth Pickens

A chat about death, deadlines, and doing your art no matter what

Hey y’all,

Last week I had the pleasure to chat with art coach Beth Pickens, author of Make Your Art No Matter What and Your Art Will Save Your Life. Beth and I share many of the same core messages, but I come at making art from the inside of being a working artist and Beth comes at it from the outside of working with artists, so she picks up things that I miss.

You can watch our conversation in the video above or listen to it below:


Beth started out with a list of 10 tips for artists based on the things her clients are dealing with right now. I drew them out on index cards:

Beth converted to Judaism by way of feminism (all the feminist writers she liked were Jewish) and I really enjoy hearing about how her religious practice has influenced her work. She hipped me to the importance of taking a day off and Rabbi Heschel’s The Sabbath, which has become one of my favorite books.

Before our conversation, I re-read my notes in her books and wrote them out on index cards as a way to refresh.

Beth believes that the artist needs to do 3 things:

  1. Consume as much art as they can.

  2. Join a community of artists and build relationships.

  3. Make their art no matter what.

In other words: steal, share, and keep going.

My favorite idea of Beth’s is that artists suffer when they don’t make their art.

“Artists are people who are profoundly compelled to make their creative work,” she writes, “and when they are distanced from their practice, their life quality suffers.”

For years, the message I got was: If you can do anything else, you should. That confused me, because I thought, Well, sure, I could do anything else. I could be a damned surgeon if I wanted to! But now I know that if I don’t do creative work… I suffer. I’m not a whole person. If I don’t show up to the studio, it’s harder to show up for the people in my life. (A lesson I learned the hard way as a young dad.) Sure, I could do something else, but to not have a creative practice would diminish me and make me a not-so-nice person to be around.

Here are more (personal) notes I doodled from our chat:

As always, I’d love to hear what resonates with y’all and what you’d like to hear more about.

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And if you’d like to check out Beth’s Homework Club, she’s offered our gang a discount code with one free month off: MakeYourWork.



Austin Kleon
Austin Kleon
Austin Kleon