Review: I'd Rather Be in the Studio
First, I'd like to apologize to the author, Alyson B. Stanfield, for having taken a year to read and review this book. She graciously gave me a copy and in between my busy schedule, and reading the book, I got lost. In fact, I started this book three times over. Not because it was a bad book but because it was so chock full of good advice that every time I picked it up and read a bit more, my mind would churn and I'd go off to put some of her advice into practice. Time passed and I'd have to go and start it all over, just so I could make sure I gave the book a proper reading to write this review.
I'd Rather Be In the Studio is an amazing book that, while targeting artists looking to build their business and promote themselves, I'd highly recommend it to anyone looking to promote their passions. Stanfield structures the book around eight basic excuses that artists (and writers, *ahem* *cough*) conjure up when faced with marketing and self-promoting themselves and their work— excuses such as "I don't have the time," or "There aren't enough hours in the day to do it all," or "I'm an introvert." Stanfield refutes each excuse in detail before going into the action-chapters that help to combat each excuse. For example, she mentions in the "My art speaks for itself" excuse that an artist's work never really speaks for itself, that when others say things about an artist's piece of art, they are simply reacting to it (good or bad). Then she follows up this section with two chapters: one that shows you how to harness the power of an artist statement, and another on speaking or teaching as an expert in the field.
Sounds simple, doesn't it? But there's so much more to it. Each chapter contains a wide variety of action steps and tips for milking each no-excuse principle for all it's worth. Some chapters include journal activities to log specific details, while others have questions or worksheets to fill out to get a "big picture" idea of what you want out of your art and your career. Subsequent chapters guide you gently into building various databases (including telling you exactly what information you'll want to collect and why), how to harness the power of your website, putting together a newsletter that gets read and used, and writing a bio that catches galleries attention.
There is a lot in this book to love. Every page features tips and tricks from Stanfield's experience as an art coach, working with an U.S. Senator, and as an art museum curator. I liked how she scattered the voices of artists who've attended her past workshops throughout the chapters to help drive home how the techniques have worked for them. Her "no excuses" approach is so fresh and motivating that readers can just flip open the book to any spot and begin learning the tips and tricks that'll help their art get immediate attention and exposure. Even the table of contents feels useful as it has been expanded to included each subheading and "no-excuse principles." Reading it is more like reading an abstract.
I've never read a book quite like this one (and I've read and reviewed several other artist-focused business books). Stanfield does a great job at talking to artists on their level, using their excuses against them and showing them that self-promoting their work doesn't have to be the big, scary, marketing-headed monster that we sometimes make it out to be. If you're looking for the no-excuse guide to promoting yourself and your art, writing, or business, then buy I'd Rather Be in the Studio. Make sure you have a highlighter handy, you'll want one to remember all the good advice Stanfield gives you.
I'd Rather Be in the Studio retails for $24.95 and is published by Pentas Press in Golden, Colorado. You can also purchase it through amazon.com. Hop over to the book's website to learn more and download free worksheets for use with the book. Then visit Alyson B. Stanfield's website to learn more about her classes and sign up for her weekly Art Marketing Action newsletter.