An Artist's Odyssey-Chasing Ghosts, Masters and The Business

Book Review: An Artist’s Odyssey

Pursuing a career in the arts is not an easy path to take. There are endless obstacles to overcome.

If you want to truly explore the limits of your creativity while developing your artwork, and at the same time pay your bills—you need to have two totally different mindsets wrapped into one. You need the savvy of a startup entrepreneur and the open mindedness to follow your passions and creative impulses.

I have been juggling these two separate mindsets for the last two years. In order to successfully navigate through this unknown territory, I’m finding resources and inspiration to help get my creative career on the right track. The latest book that has contributed to my learning and motivation is An Artist’s Odyssey-Chasing Ghosts, Masters and The Business of Art by Alan Pierce.

Part memoir—part art book—part how-to book, Alan walks us through his journey as a visual artist and as a thriving entrepreneur over the last twenty years. His intention is to share stories in order to allow aspiring artists to learn from his process. Alan’s experiences span three decades, three continents and many different cultures and therefore put him in a unique position to share valuable insights.

An Artist's Odyssey is uniquely personal, and at the same time informative. Not to mention, it’s a beautiful collection of the artist’s paintings.

The developing artist

In the first part of the book, Alan shares a bit about his own personal experiences; as a young boy exploring his own imagination and experiencing different cultures; as a young adult discovering the artists who will become great influences for his work; and as an artist envisioning his own personal style.

Alan’s inspiring takeaway from these experiences is that to stay evolving and producing meaningful work we must always be challenging and questioning our mind map of the world. We must find our own personal style, the mediums that highlight our artistic voice and allow our influences to spur us on and inspire us to continue developing artistically.

"Ultimate freedom exists in nothing other than art; a place where you can take huge leaps of faith with little or no consequence, failing spectacularly today only to rise tomorrow and try again."

Developing a personal style

'Pure Slumber' painting by Alan Pierce
'Pure Slumber' painting by Alan Pierce

After 15 years establishing the ability to create figurative realism and studying the fundamental elements of art, Alan was tired of conventional anatomical rules. He started to develop his own style called Shape Construction.

Shape Construction is way of painting centered primarily around shape, color, texture, value and space, focusing much less on form and line and highlighting emotion rather than complex composition.

"Learning the rules and then breaking them intentionally is what art is all about."

The artist’s creative process

In this section of the book we get an insider’s view of the artist’s creative process. Alongside beautiful pictures of his oil and watercolor paintings, Alan walks us through the inspirations and techniques used for his work. He discusses challenges he faced and lessons learned along the way. Plus, there is a comprehensive tutorial on creating large painting works.

This main part of the book is organized by the different styles Alan has explored: Shape construction; Oil works: shades of darkness; Watercolor painting: diving in; Oil works: creating large paintings on canvas.

The business of art: an insider’s view

This section of the book was written to be of use for young artists’ professional development. Alan highlights fundamental business principles within the art world. By sharing his experiences and mistakes over the past twenty years, he hopes to save others time and money.

Alan reminds artists that above all they’re independent contractors. Artists must operate a profitable business to stay afloat. If you don’t understand the fundamentals of business it is almost impossible to have a sustainable career in the Arts.

Assessing your market is paramount to sell your artwork. Alan walks through the process of discovering a true demand for your artwork, as opposed to an artificial demand.

Next, he gives great advice for developing a personal brand and artistic style. I know that is is something that I struggle with—in my creative explorations I make all kinds of artwork with different methods and styles. However, it is important to be consistent with one or two public styles (artists can have many styles that are not promoted) so that people can start to recognize their work.

Alan provides loads of useful information for setting up an online sales infrastructure, creating multiple revenue streams, pricing your art, dealing with galleries, preparing for an exhibition and more. I found this section to be incredibly helpful and informative.

"Over the past three decades, traveling across three continents, I’ve come to see art as something which connects us. It binds us all together unifying people from every race and every background."

Forward by Nyoman Nuarta

Alan's book was rewarded with an endorsement and a forward written by Nyoman Nuarta:

"Alan Pierce's efforts to write down his experience will later become an important historical writing to observe."

Nyoman Nuarta is the creator of the world’s third largest statue Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWK) located in Bali, The Indonesian Proclamation Monument in Jakarta, Indonesia, The Jalesveya Jayamahe-Monjaya Monument in Surabaya, Indonesia and many more. He is also the 2018 recipient of the Padma Shri Award, India’s fourth highest civilian award, given to him by President Ram Kovind in New Delhi.

The Harapan Project

All proceeds from the sale of this book will go to an amazing charity called Harapan Project.

Harapan Project is an NGO helping the most vulnerable and fragile people and communities of Indonesia to overcome such situation in the following areas: Covering the basic survival needs regarding nutrition and access to drinking water, health, education and basic infrastructure

Harapan Project cooperates with these communities in the development of their wellbeing and the promotion of peace and freedom, with a profound respect for their cultures, beliefs and customs.

About the author

Artist Alan PierceAlan Pierce BFA, CAPS, CMB is a lifelong artist and classically trained draftsman, painter and sculptor with a deep appreciation for all facets of art. Having traveled to over 35 countries and lived and worked in Europe, the U.S. and Indonesia, his works are drawn from his life and colored by many cultural, artistic, political and natural influences during his travels. Growing up between the West and a developing nation under an authoritarian leader punctuated the importance of free speech and human rights. Indonesia, as one of the most diverse countries in the world, imbued in him the understanding that art from every culture is held in high regard by its own people and is often enjoyed by people across all ages and backgrounds. He discovered this commonality in art while traveling throughout Europe, North America, South- east Asia and the Middle East.

Original work, limited edition prints and open prints are available for purchase at the his website: alanpierce-art.com

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