“I wrote the book that I wanted to read. This is the book I wish someone had given me twenty years ago.”
Are you an artist in Philadelphia, thinking, How the hell does this work?
There’s a new book in town for artists to help get themselves to live a more fruitful artistic life and career and it’s FREE (the PDF version anyway, the handsome trade paperback costs $18). Making Your Life As An Artist by Andrew Simonet, grew out of Andrew’s work at Artists U, a planning and development program for artists, which he founded in 2006. (Andrew was also a co-founder and co-artistic director of Headlong Dance Theater.) Since much of the wisdom of the book grew out of living an artistic life and career in Philly, this is a must read if you are a performing artist in Philadelphia! The landscape is different here than in New York or L.A., even though those cities’ narratives still drive much artistic thinking and/or dreaming. Making Your Life As An Artist will help you take a long view and help you plan and develop your artistic career while also getting you to see your life outside of your work as part of that equation. We caught up with Andrew to fire off three quick questions.
FringeArts: Why did you write Making Your Life As An Artist?
Andrew Simonet: I wrote the book that I wanted to read. This is the book I wish someone had given me twenty years ago. I need to be reminded of the sacred role artists play and the astonishing skills artists have. Doing this work with artists [at Artists U] for the last ten years, I’ve always worked face-to-face, always real bodies in a room, sharing a dialogue. It’s probably my performance background that makes me feel so strongly about presence and sharing space with people. But there’s a limit. More people have downloaded this book in the last day than I will ever work with in Artists U. That’s sobering to me and exciting. With the designer, brilliant artist Anthony Smyrski, we asked: what is the physical object and virtual object that will be like an Artists U workshop? How can we use this scalable system to convey the work? So there’s lots of negative space, lots of room around each thought, and a tone that is more like speaking than writing.
FringeArts: How many books have been downloaded?
Andrew Simonet: 3,300 as of 9 pm on June 19 [Ed note: less than 48 hours after going on sale!]. I’m thrilled about that. It’s exactly what I want for this book: take it, read it, share it. Several folks have said they emailed the book to all their students, which I completely encourage, so we’ll never know the total reach.
FringeArts: What are you reading now?
Andrew Simonet: The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality by Angus Deaton. It’s a brilliant account of how humans escaped the grinding poverty and short life expectancies that dominated human life for tens of thousands of years. In the last 300 years, we are suddenly dramatically richer and live much, much longer and healthier lives. It’s a book about that astonishing and rapid shift, and about the rise of inequalities. Everyone should read it, if only for Deaton’s distinction between good inequality—rich people develop a technology, like indoor plumbing or eyeglasses, that trickles down to everyone—versus bad inequality—rich people control the political process to keep others down.