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How to Be an Artist

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How to Be an Artist

Talks at Google,

5 min read
5 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

A celebrated, outspoken art critic explains why anyone can have a life in art, and how to start.

Editorial Rating



  • Engaging
  • Inspiring


Jerry Saltz, senior art critic at New York magazine, has developed a massive social media following for his outspoken, innovative commentaries on art and culture. In this hour-long conversation, part of the Talks at Google series, Megan Green chats with Saltz about making art during a pandemic, power shifts taking place in the art world, and Saltz’s book, How to Be an Artist. With his signature irreverence and heart, Saltz encourages all would-be artists to hush their demons and get to work.


Call yourself what you want to be, then do the hard work.

Like many artists, Jerry Saltz was afraid to do what he wanted to do, and he didn’t begin to embrace art until his 40s. To become an artist, just call yourself an artist – whatever you want to be – and then do the work of art. The work can be challenging. Embarrassment comes with it, and you have to have courage. Take a professional attitude, sit down to work, but then surrender to the process, because making art means allowing something to work through you.

If you’re having trouble choosing an idea to work on, pick one and spend 20 minutes with it to see what happens. Experiment and try lots of things. Do your work...

About the Speaker

Jerry Saltz is senior art critic at New York magazine and the entertainment site Vulture. Saltz is winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Criticism and two National Magazine Awards, and author of How to Be an Artist.

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