Dose of Inspiration

Dose of Inspiration

On the Edge of Your Seat: Chairs for the 21st Century

On the Edge of Your Seat: Chairs for the 21st Century

On the Edge of Your Seat: Chairs for the 21st Century

On the Edge of Your Seat: Chairs for the 21st Century

Mark LaFavor

On the Edge of Your Seat: Chairs for the 21st Century
By the Center for Art in Wood
Schiffer Publishing, $60

On the Edge of Your Seat distinguishes itself beginning with the first act – literally. The text opens with a brief “melodrama” from the imagination of furniture maker Roy Superior, in which a family of cavemen acts out the origin of furniture, as well as the history of craft. It’s a humorous prologue for a serious, substantive book, based on a 2016 show of the same name, a collaboration of the Furniture Society and the Center for Art in Wood.

Moving on from the Pleistocene, readers will find a sweeping pictorial narrative about the history of chair design in Philadelphia, where innovation in furniture dates to the 17th century. This context sets the stage for the high point of the text: a juried selection of 45 seating objects by 39 makers, from Sophie Glenn’s School Desk and Mira Nakashima’s Concordia Chair to Po Shun Leong’s Fortune Cookie Stool and Misha Volf’s 4x4 Bench. Juror commentary and a succinct essay by each artist, as well as spectacular photography – including many stunning antique chairs – make On the Edge of Your Seat an enlightening addition to any craft and design bookshelf. ~Jessica Shaykett
 


 

Your Inner Critic Is a Big Jerk: And Other Truths About Being Creative

Your Inner Critic Is a Big Jerk: And Other Truths About Being Creative

Mark LaFavor

Your Inner Critic Is a Big Jerk: And Other Truths About Being Creative
By Danielle Krysa
Chronicle Books, $17

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but sometimes the cover just lays it all out there. Your Inner Critic Is a Big Jerk is one such volume, a self-help guide for all of us self-destructive creatives. In its lively pages, Danielle Krysa, author of the popular Jealous Curator art blog, pulls from her own and others’ experiences to give it to us straight, providing exercises to dismantle that jerk-of-an-inner-voice and get back to making with confidence. Afraid of ruining pristine paper? Try drawing on something less precious. Blinded by jealousy? Start confessing it – you may find others envy your talent as well. By adding a dose of humor to her honest advice, aided by Martha Rich’s amusing illustrations, Krysa teaches lessons that aren’t so hard to swallow. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and, best of all, you’ll cheer yourself on. ~Megan Guerber
 


 

Master Your Craft: Strategies for Designing, Making, and Selling Artisan Work

Master Your Craft: Strategies for Designing, Making, and Selling Artisan Work

Mark LaFavor

Master Your Craft: Strategies for Designing, Making, and Selling Artisan Work
By Tien Chiu
Schiffer Publishing, $30

Tien Chiu began her craft career executing the needlework and knitting designs of others. Trained in engineering, she was working in software development and, though adept at handwork, considered the design process mysterious, even magical. Ultimately, though, she tired of following others’ directions and tried making original pieces – a shift she calls “quite traumatic.” Master Your Craft, she says, “is the book I wish I’d read when I started designing my own work.”

Fourteen chapters take the reader through what Chiu calls the “creative cycle.” She offers her own hard-won practical wisdom, along with guidance and examples from 22 other artists in a range of mediums, covering everything from design, construction, and evaluation to revision, finding your voice, and selling. Eighteen exercises make the learning concrete. Throughout, she reminds readers that persistence, a desire to learn, and a willingness to fail are as important as skill and experience.

Chiu embraces trial and error, and her methodical approach will encourage readers to do that, too. ~Monica Moses