The Complete Creative

  • Agnes Martin in her NY Studio 1960. (Photo Alexander Liberman. Source unknown)

A Quest for the Quiet Mind: Can the Art World Make Room for Sincerity?

By |03.09.14|

In 2013 the online magazine 2Paragraphs asked a group of visual artists to write about the image that had “affected them most profoundly.” The question elicited some fascinating stories, from Goya’s influence on video and conceptual artist Karen Ostrom, to […]

  • Swinton first performed the piece at the Serpentine Gallery in London in 1995. Her early collaborator was acclaimed sculptor and installation artist Cornelia Parker.
In 1996, the British star performed it in the Museo Barracco in Rome, this time without Parker's involvement.

The Perils of Being a Solo Artist: 11 Ways to Find the Support You Need

By |02.05.14|



I have a confession to make…Asking for help is tough for me. Ditto for collaborating.

Yes. I love people. I love being a connector and introducing creative folks to one another. I love great conversation about art and ideas. But when it […]

  • A still from Bill Viola's video installation Catherine's Room (Photo © Bill Viola)

Setting Creative Goals for the New Year? Let Fear Be Your Guide

By |01.05.14|

It’s the New Year, which means that many of us are taking stock of our personal habits, both good and bad, and resolving to do better.

But how many things on this year’s list of goals also appeared on our list […]

  • (Photo via

Patti Smith’s Advice to Artists: We’re Pioneers in a New Time

By |11.13.13|


“In art and dream may you proceed with abandon. In life may you proceed with balance and stealth.”

These are the words of rock legend and National-Book-Award winner Patti Smith.  The advice is reminiscent Madame Bovary author Gustave Flaubert: “Be steady and […]

  • Eva Hesse at work in her studio in Kettwig an der Ruhr, Germany, 1964 / 1965
(Photo by Nathan Kernan © The Estate of Eva Hesse courtesy Hauser & Wirth)

How To Be An Artist

By |10.08.13|

If there is one piece of advice I could give to artists of all disciplines, in all stages of their careers, it would be this: make art. Period.

Writer and art critic Sigrun Hodne posted this simple, but brilliant drawing on […]

  • Daily Rituals-Click to Purchase

Daily Rituals: How Artists Create (And Avoid Creating) Their Art

By |09.25.13|


One Sunday in 2007 Mason Currey was sitting alone in the office of his employer—an architecture magazine—trying (and failing) to finish an article that was due the next day. Instead of getting down to business, he compulsively tidied his cubicle, […]

  • Franz-Kafka

Franz Kafka : Don’t Water It Down

By |04.17.13|



“Don’t bend; water it down; or make it logical; don’t edit your soul for fashion. Follow intense obsessions mercilessly.”

Spot-on advice for all artists from the writer Franz Kafka.



  • John Cage

John Cage on Beginning

By |03.05.13|



Last night I came across this quote  in my friend’s office in Philadelphia. Creating art that resonates or impacting the world around you isn’t the result of ambitious ideas or flawless execution. It’s the result of doing.

Start. Now.

You can explore […]

  • Jenny Holzer,  “Protect me from what I want,” 1982. Times Square, New York City

The Complete Creative Part 4 : Christian McEwen on the Art of Happiness

By |12.18.12|



The holidays have their bright spots: the homemade bourbon balls, the annual viewing of Charlie Brown and the Grinch, the twinkling lights, spending quality time with family and friends, the Messiah performances and sing-a-longs.

But for most of us, the holidays also mean […]

  • (Photo taken in Copenhagen, Hovedstaden, DK. by Zephyrance via Flickr Commons)

This photo was taken on September 9, 2008 in Copenhagen, Hovedstaden, DK.

Gwarlingo “Sells Out”…To You

By |12.05.12|



You’re curious. Open-minded. Creative. You’re an artist or arts lover who isn’t afraid to be challenged.

Gwarlingo, like the arts in general, is about seeing the world in a way we’ve never seen before. Whether it’s through poetry, film, visual art, […]

  • "I've always thought that problem-solving is highly overrated and that problem creation is far more interesting.” -Chuck Close

Chuck Close, Alice Munro, & Jack White on Creativity & Constraint

By |11.01.12|

The Challenges of Motherhood
Alice Ann Laidlaw was born in the rural town of Wingham, Ontario, the daughter of a fox and mink farmer and a schoolteacher. While writing fiction and studying English at the University of Western Ontario she worked as […]

  • World Enough and Time-Click to Purchase

Writer Christian McEwen on Creativity and Slowing Down

By |09.26.12|


Every day we’re faced with the decision of how and where to focus our attention. Sustained attention may be the most endangered resource in our modern age. We often forget that we have a choice about how we […]

  • banksy-ballerina

The Complete Creative Part 1 : How “If-Only Syndrome” Derails Us As Artists

By |09.12.12|



When Gwarlingo readers give me feedback, I listen. You’ve been telling me that you’d like to see more articles about process and the challenges of being an artist. I’ve appreciated your emails and comments.

Today, I’m excited to launch a new […]

  • Blackberry-Lichtenstein Spoof

The Art of Focus : 5 Ways to Free Yourself from Digital Dependency

By |06.17.12|



Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for miseries and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries.         — Blaise Pascal


Our day begins with good intentions. Feeling rested and focused, we set our priorities. […]

  • Picasso-Robert Doisneau

Jonah Lehrer on How Creativity Works : 5 Insights from Julia Child, Dylan, & Picasso

By |03.23.12|


In 1965 singer Bob Dylan was burned out after a grueling tour; he was sick of reporters’ questions and tired of performing the same old songs. Dylan told his manager that he was quitting music for good and […]

  • Ai Weiwei-Click to Read More

Ai Weiwei : Creativity Is the Power to Act

By |03.11.12|




Ai Weiwei’s Blog: Writings, Interviews, and Digital Rants, 2006-2009 has been good company the past few days. Between 2006 and 2009, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei used his blog as a daily notebook where he posted thousands of photos, documented his […]

  • Edward Hopper-Click to Enlarge

How To Feel Miserable As An Artist

By |02.09.12|

This week a reader sent me a copy of “How to Feel Miserable As An Artist.” This marvelous list was created by illustrator Keri Smith and is part of The Artist’s Survival Kit, which Keri wrote and designed.

I like Keri’s list […]

  • Kim Uchiyama in her Tribeca studio (Photo by Michelle Aldredge)

Creative Spaces: Painter Kim Uchiyama

By |02.07.12|


Kim Uchiyama’s studio is located on a quiet, tree-lined side-street in Lower Manhattan. On a crisp fall day in mid-November over tea and brunch, I visited Kim in her Tribeca apartment. We spent the day looking at art and discussing her […]

  • A currency collage by artist Mark Wagner (Photo courtesy Mark Wagner at

On Money, Fear, and the Artist

By |01.11.12|

An Artist Gets Audited
A visual artist I know once told me about an audit she endured with the IRS. My friend is a professional artist in New York City with her own studio. Her work is shown at galleries and […]

  • “How do you manage to be so happy all the time?” Lindsey Abrams asked short-story writer, Grace Paley. “Even when things really aren’t going very well?”

“I just decided,” Paley told her. “At one point in my life, I just decided to be happy.” (Grace Paley photo by Dorothy Marder)

Grace Paley: “Write What Will Stop Your Breath If You Don’t Write”

By |12.11.11|

Today is the birthday of writer Grace Paley.

Although Paley’s writing output was modest during her 84 years — some four dozen stories in three volumes: The Little Disturbances of Man (Doubleday, 1959); Enormous Changes at the Last Minute […]

  • Currency Collage by Mark Wagner

The Dow of Art: Why Art Still Matters in Our Market-Driven Society

By |11.30.11|

Writer Nova Ren Suma has just published a new essay of mine over at “Distraction No. 99.”

Although the assigned topic was “inspiration,” my piece covers a range of subjects, from library book censorship to the financial stresses of being an […]

  • Artist Eva Hesse in her studio

Sol LeWitt’s Advice to Eva Hesse: Don’t Worry About Cool, Make Your Own Uncool

By |11.25.11|




Because I’m surrounded by artists in both my professional and personal life, people often ask me what insights I’ve gained into the creative process.

The unromantic truth is that being an artist in any field is hard work. Because artists need a […]

  • sonny-rollins-milano-67

Sonny Rollins: “It’s All about Space”

By |09.07.11|

Today is the birthday of jazz legend Sonny Rollins. At the age of 81, Rollins is still touring, making new music, and recording records.

The long, remarkable career of Sonny Rollins is a good example of how sustaining it can […]

  • Dylan by Milton Glaser

Designer Milton Glaser on Creativity and the Fear of Failure

By |07.22.11|

You may not know graphic designer Milton Glaser by name, but you undoubtedly know his work. He is best known for the “I ♥ NY” logo, his “Bob Dylan” poster, the “DC bullet” logo used by DC Comics from 1977 to 2005, and the “Brooklyn Brewery” logo. […]

  • Anna Schueit and Finnegan (Photo courtesy the artist)

MacArthur Fellow Anna Schuleit & the Whole Sweep of Trying

By |05.31.11|

Welcome to the first installment of “Creative Spaces,” a regular Gwarlingo series that will focus on the creative habits and work spaces of visual artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers, and other talented individuals.

I’m excited to kick off the series with an […]