“How to be an Artist” by Jerry Saltz — minimal annotations

Jose M. Ramirez
10 min readSep 5, 2022

I have been following Jerry Saltz for many years and marveling at his light but a not simplistic way of approaching life from the perspective of art and the artist’s perspective. I could not say that Jerry is an optimist nor a pessimist, but someone who understood that art, as Ethan Hawke would also say in his famous TED talk, is not a luxury but a necessity.

I bought the book some time ago, following the impulse of the media, but I kept it in the pending pile, not for lack of interest, but for fear of finding an instruction manual, a pre-chewed checklist for everyone. I doubted Jerry, I confess, but I finally picked up the book one afternoon and read it thrice in 2 days. The book is essentially a non-linear conversation, a constant jump from topic to topic, but in the end, as in all of Jerry’s writing, it all falls into place beautifully.

It is hard to summarize or review a conversation, so I will not try it; instead, I am going to comment on the resonating ideas and the quotes that I made for myself and that I hope will not satisfy you, but, on the contrary, leave you so dissatisfied that you decide to go to the book by yourself.

I begin by thanking the photographs and illustrations with which almost all the chapters begin; like the beautiful photograph of Matisse working from his bed, Andy…