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Book Review: Living the Artist’s Life by Paul Dorrell

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At one time, artists were a respected group in society. They were sought after by kings and emperors for their unique talents. Artists gave to the world, and, in that regard, defined what the world meant to them. Even now, we use art to define historic periods. To give us a peek into what the artist, as representative, was going through. Today artists, especially writers and visual artists, are considered among the lowest of the low in society. We are the joke. Our value is bankrupt. Anyone who has dared to venture into this world knows what I am speaking. It is a harsh, cut-throat, and wholly unstable existence.

So, when I had the opportunity to review the book Living the Artist’s Life, I jumped at the chance. I was hoping that this book would offer some inspiration, insight, and even consolation, and to that end, I was not disappointed.

Paul Dorrell, the author, is not your average failed artist who turns to feeding on other artists’ insecurities to make a few dollars. No. Paul has been through the wringer, several times. When you read this book, you come to understand, through Paul’s conversational manner, that he has laid everything on the line for the sake of promoting the art and artists he believes in.

Paul mortgaged his home in order to achieve his goal of opening an art studio, only to have the studio burn down. That may sound bad, but the worst part is that he let his insurance expire only a few days before due to lack of capital. He was ruined. But this part of the story is only the begining of his journey throught the world of art. Living the Artist’s Life is Paul’s journey, a journey Paul details with a warmth, and humor, that is inviting and completely interesting. I read the entire book in one sitting.

I don’t want to mislead you, this book is geared towards the visual arts crowd. Its information, of which there is volumes, focuses on how visual artists can break into this world, how they can get their works into galleries, and how they can learn from his mistakes to actually make a living for themselves. And that kind of information is priceless. But for us writers, the book is only partially useful. I still say that Paul’s words of support are easily worth the price of the book. And, in reality, Paul started out as a writer, and with 20 years of tribulations in the publishing industry, I can think of no one more qualified to speak to us as a group.

Living the Artist’s Life is a hopeful, honest, and humorous look at the life we feel drawn into. He understands, he respects, and he supports us artists with true devotion and a full heart. And after reading this book, I have nothing but respect for a man who can find true happiness in a world that can be supremely self destructive. Paul makes me feel that my journey, although not easy, has immense worth. And maybe someday, with enough Pauls in the world, we will be able to regain some of the value we artists have lost.

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About T Stoddart

  • Nice review…I’m going to check out this book.

    “Chasing Matisse” by James Morgan is another interesting read, about a writer who chases his dream by taking a year off from “life” and following the footsteps of painter Henri Matisse. Full of insight and artistic philosophy, it’s a great book for artists of any medium.