Book Review: ‘Think Like An Artist Don’t Act Like One’ By Koos De Wilt

Image source: Amazon

I am not sure whether I understood the the book Think Like An Artist Don’t Act Like One by Koos De Wilt correctly. The title seems to suggest aspiring artists not to consider their art merely as a set of skills or their profession, instead to inculcate an artistic mindset and lifestyle so that everything one does has an aesthetic or an artistic element in it. I was sure that this is what the book is about and that it would be full of motivating, inspiring and stimulating passages that would keep the creative fire aflame within me. This is important because in arts, like in any creative pursuit including science, it is very common to succumb to monotony and lose interest or initial vigour. Thus, any words of encouragement and inspiration are always helpful. I wonder how far would creative people go when left only to their own inner fire, without any encouragement from outside.

Leafing through the book, I found it contrary to my pre-conceived notion about its format. Actually, the book is composed of images of 75 artworks accompanied by brief descriptions or comments. Never mind, still good. The writer must have selected these artworks and written down commentaries on them, highlighting their salient features, points to be noted and so on, in order to encourage aspiring artists to follow their example or to educate general public what does art actually mean, how to look at a piece of art and to appreciate the various efforts and thoughts that go into creating a masterpiece. But when I went from one artwork to another, reading one commentary after other, I sensed no pattern in them which left me more and more confused. The order of presenting the artworks or the artists is random, without any chronological order, or according to any classification or categorization. Even after finishing the book, I could not form a firm understanding about what the writer wanted to convey through this book.

The book description tells us that the book explores lessons for our everyday home and working lives…art addresses questions we all face in life…about success and failure, about love and loss, about friendship and hard work. Thus, one can learn curiosity from Leonardo da Vinci, honesty from Rembrandt and appreciating the everyday from Vermeer. In few pieces, such analysis is put forward explicitly, whereas in others there is nothing more than an accompanying note which is neither a description, nor an analysis nor a lesson.

All passages are short and easy to read. Some of them are illuminating and inspiring in nature. For example the note Beware of the Blind Spot describing the painting ‘The Ambassadors’ by Holbein, It’s All About You describing the painting ‘Las Meninas’ by Velazquez and Quiet Please describing ‘The Lacemaker’ by Vermeer. But still, in the end, if someone asks the conclusion or the summary of the book, you will have to struggle to give a satisfying answer.

The book cover is very ordinary to say the least, and certainly does not look like the cover of a book on art. Considering all aspects, this book may find a place on the shelf of a public library but not in a personal collection.


Title: Think Like an Artist, Don’t Act Like One
Author: Koos de Wilt
Publisher: BIS Publishers
Print Length: 192 pages
Price (Paperback): $10.09
My Rating:
What Does It Mean?

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