Category Archives: Nonfiction

Book Review 110: Make Art Make Money by Elizabeth Hyde Stevens

Is it possible to succeed as an artist and entrepreneur?

Elizabeth Hyde Stevens examines this question in her book, Make Art Make Money, about how Jim Henson navigated the parallel worlds of art and business to become one of the greatest American artist-entrepreneurs.

Make Art Make Money explores how this gentle man had an innate sense of both artistry and commerce to become one of the rare artists that received critical acclaim and commercial success throughout his entire career. We get a behind- the-scenes view of all the major Henson works: Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, The Muppets Take Manhattan, and many others to see what decisions had to be made for those works to reach the public and how Henson made sure that creativity remained at the forefront on each project.

Stevens writes the book in an episodic style focusing on lessons that the reader can gleam from each part of Henson’s career.  There were a couple lessons that resonated with me and will keep as a reminder for my own artistic journey.

“Maintaining a balance between art and business has always been a part of what I do.”

This lesson reveals that Henson understood instantly to be a successful artist he had to balance art and commerce.  I learned that Henson did commercials to fund some of his more artistically driven projects. And that artists may have to create something strictly for commercial gain in order to create art that is more meaningful to you as an artist. Henson shows in this lesson that striking the balance of art and commerce is challenging but rewarding.

“It’s tempting to cash out yet for an artist, it is harder to truly cash out, because the things you’ve made are not mere impersonal gadgets or algorithms; they are extensions of your personality. They are more like our children. Protect your art. Hold onto it. Control its destiny.

This lesson comes near the end of the book and Stevens goes into detail about how Henson fought to maintain artistic independence and where he fell short in the Henson-Disney merger.  This episode of the book should be a warning to all artists who believes that cashing out will bring you true artistic independence.

I knew little about Jim Henson before reading Make Art Make Money.  I watched Sesame Street growing up in the late 1970s-early 1980s.  However after reading this book, I have become interested in Jim Henson’s art much more than I would have expected and will heed the lessons from his magnificent career for my art.  Elizabeth Hyde Stevens has written the most important book I will read in 2017.  I highly recommend Make Art Make Money for any artist who wants to learn how an artist like Jim Henson maintained a delicate balance between the worlds of art and commerce.

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Book Review 95: The Successful Author Mindset by Joanna Penn

Digital Publishing has spawned the rise of the indie author movement over the past several years.  As a result, there is a lot of books these days about how to become a successful indie author and how to make a living with your writing. However, there are only a few of those books dealing with… Continue Reading

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Book Review 94: Deep Work by Cal Newport

“Great creative minds think like artists but work like accountants.” (David Brooks) “When you work, work hard. When you’re done, be done.” Those two quotes from Deep Work by Cal Newport summarizes my feelings toward this excellent book. Newport introduces deep work as to counteract the distracted world we live with in the social media… Continue Reading

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Book Review 82: The Introvert Entrepreneur by Beth Buelow

Introvert Entrepreneur seems like an oxymoronic term.  Can an introvert really be an entrepreneur?  Well, Beth Buelow makes an excellent case for it in her book titled with the same term. I heard about Beth Buelow from one of my favorite podcasts, The Creative Penn, when she was interviewed by Author-Entrepreneur Joanna Penn. That interview… Continue Reading

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Book Review 70: For Love or Money by Susan Kaye Quinn

“Writing challenges me to discover who I am. Publishing challenges me to remember it.” “You have to work like crazy, be smart, somehow invest every particle of emotion into the book itself, but then fling it out in the world and be ruthlessly pragmatic about how to sell it.” Those two quotes (of many that… Continue Reading

Book Review 58: Discoverability by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

The Indie Publishing movement of the past half-dozen years has changed the course of the publishing industry. Publishing books have become a lot easier thanks to eBooks, Amazon, and other Print-on-Demand (POD) publishers.  Would-be-novelists (like myself) that have tried to break into Traditional publishing have finally found an avenue to get their works out to… Continue Reading

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Book Review 45: All God’s Children & Blue Suede Shoes by Ken Myers

What is pop culture? That’s the one question I’ve always wanted to get a definitive answer to in all of my adult life. Well, I believe I have found a book that attempts to give me that answer. All God’s Children & Blue Suede Shoes by Ken Myers explores the relationship between Christians and Popular Culture.… Continue Reading

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Book Review 44: Gray Matters by Brett McCracken

“Christians have a hard time with nuance, gray areas are not out strong suit.” “Discernment is a tricky business, much more complicated than a checklist or matrix of black-and-white criteria. And it begins on the inside, with an awareness that while discernment is a virtue we should all aspire to, it doesn’t look exactly the… Continue Reading

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