Friday, April 30, 2010

What types of art book do you like best? (MAM Poll Results)


The April Making A Mark Poll looked at What types of art book do you like best?  

The headline results (below) completely contradict the direction art instruction publishers have been taking of late - towards 'dumbing down' and ever simpler books for beginners with lots of pictures and very little text. 

Right click the image to open a larger version of the chart.

Of the people who responded to this poll:
  • over 90% emphatically do NOT want books for beginners!  Less than 10% wanted books about basic principles or step by step basic books
  • over half of you (53%) want 'how to' books which target the 'advanced' level of artist
  • just under half of you (47%) like 'how to' books which address a specific topic
  • over half of you (53%) like books about an artist
  • around a quarter of you collect exhibition catalogues
In other words the 74 people who provided 229 responses to the poll on this blog are artists who have moved quite a long way beyond first base, who want to improve their art but who look to the art and practice of other artists and advanced level instruction to do so.

You also like on average about three different types of art books!  It's clear you read art history books and collect exhibition catalogues just as much as you seek out the type of art instruction you favour.  That to me speaks of people who appreciate that there is much to learn from the practices of other artists in both the past and the present.  I expect you all probably go to a fair few exhibitions too!

Commentary on this poll

To my mind, these poll results amplify the very many comments you've made on this blog whenever I've written about art books in the past.  You have identified a lack of new books which adequately address your book buying preferences.  Again and again in the past you've commented on the lack of adequate instruction for advanced artists.

In my experience, I've noted that the very best in the advanced books tend to have quite a bit of text as well as excellent quality images - in complete contrast to the 'dumbed down' books which publishers plead is "what the market wants".

I'd suggest that what this poll indicates is that there is a market for books which place an emphasis on good quality in-depth information and are written for an intelligent and experienced audience.

I've personally found that my book buying and reading habits have completely changed in the last year.  I've now found an excellent source for library books, I've started exploring digital versions of old art books and I've started buying used books - as the quality of books published in the past often far exceeds the majority of current offerings.  It's also clear that when somebody does produce a book which is very specialised and provides good content to an advanced level that it will sell very well.
Consider for example James Gurney's book Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist.  On publication it became the #1 art instruction book on Amazon - and yet its structure and content was devised by its author and it is not published by one of the major art publishing houses.  Sometimes the artist/teacher/author does KNOW what's needed!
Resources for Artists

For those wanting to review the selections of art books that I've created in my 'resources for artists' series you may want to bookmark these sites which are updated on a regular basis.  They include: art instruction books, art history books and exhibition catalogues.
More Making A Mark Opinion Polls

You can find more Making A Mark Polls

The next post will be a new Making A Mark opinion Poll for May. 

    1 comment:

    Leslie Hawes said...

    While this comment is not about an art book, it is about advanced technique, which seems to be a subject of interest, as indicated from the poll.
    This gentleman, Tad Spurgeon, has an incredibly informative website, and the depth of information about his painting technique and materials are impressive.
    http://www.tadspurgeon.com/

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