Book review – You Are an Artist: Assignments to Spark Creation

“My hope is that you’ll come to see art as something made by human beings and that you, being human, can make, too. Thankfully, art isn’t like the other disciplines. There is no set of knowledge of list of techniques that one can master to become an artist. It’s a state of mind, and it’s a decision.”

  • Title: You Are an Artist
  • Author: Sarah Urist Green
  • Genre: Art
  • Pages: 243 pages
  • Publication date: April 14, 2020
  • Publisher: Penguin Books

I found out about this book through many Vlogbrothers videos. I had heard about The Art Assignment before, but I hadn’t followed it much since I see myself more as a writer. However, I liked the idea, and John Green was super excited about this book (and probably still is), so I picked it up.

You Are an Artist gives out different “prompts” or “assignments” to choose from. It’s not just for painters or sculptures but also for writing, drawing, performance, photography, etc. Any type of art you can think of is in this book. For each prompt, you get a page or two about the original artist(s) who created these assignments. You also get colored pictures of what their concept of the assignment looks like.

You are encouraged to not do exactly what the assignment says. If your creative self wants to do the assignment with a twist, do it.

The book even invites you to use the #YouAreAnArtist tag and post about your creations. From there, you can see others’ ideas and how they approached the book. I posted a couple that you can see here and here.

I read the book 100% through before I tried any of the prompts. I bookmarked the ones I was interested in the most. I did a few and kept the rest of the bookmarks in since I feel like I’ll come back to this book later on.

I’ll show you a couple that I did, so you can get the gist of it.

quietest place

For this one, the assignment is for you to go outside and keep walking until you can hear almost nothing. You want to find the quietest place you can. Afterwards, document it through a photo, video, writing, etc. I decided to take photos of mine. Here are a few:

Sorted Books

For this one, you go through someone else’s library, find book titles that fit together, and align their titles. You’re supposed to learn more about the other person. I kind of did that.

For me, I thought about aligning the books in a way that creates a poem. I made a few stacks with my mom’s books and ended up doing one from my own library.

My mom’s library is filled with mostly John Grisham and Nicholas Sparks books. I noticed that John Grisham starts the titles of his books in almost the exact same way. They start with the word “the” and are only two to three words long. So, I made them into a poem (and made sure Nicholas Sparks’ books were in the background).

a time to kill
the client
the street lawyer
the testament
the chamber
the appeal
the runaway jury
the last juror
the innocent man

My library had a wider range of different books, so I was able to create what feels like a more rounded poem.

how to write good
it’s kind of a funny story
if you come softly
I am the messenger
unwind
the silver linings
carve the mark (of)
an absolutely remarkable thing

I did wish the book had more writing assignments, but that could be just the writer in me. There were over fifty assignments, but I only bookmarked about fifteen. For the ones that didn’t connect with me as much, I felt like I was skimming over those pages.

Overall, this book has a bunch of interesting tasks for you to explore. Most are simple. Some require a bit more to execute, but they’re still cool. This book isn’t something to pick up and feel like you have to do all of it but rather a source to spark something creative inside of you.

Score: 8.8/10
Average rating on Goodreads: 4.32/5

3 thoughts on “Book review – You Are an Artist: Assignments to Spark Creation

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