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In which John writes a love letter.

You Are an Artist: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/601958/you-are-an-artist-by-sarah-urist-green/9780143134091?ref=PRH89EC6E042E&aid=32820&linkid=PRH89EC6E042E

The Art Assignment, Sarah's show with PBS Digital: https://www.youtube.com/user/theartassignment

Sarah's book You Are an Artist is such a wonderful collection of essays and assignments to get your creativity flowing and to help you acknowledge that you really are an artist. The book is available for preorder now!

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Good morning Hank it's Tuesday,

So I don’t talk much about my personal life here for reasons that are contained within the phrase personal life but today I  wanna tell you a story about my wife Sarah.

Before Sarah and I started dating we had a 2 person book club and one of the books we read together was The Human Stain by Philip Roth and when we got together to discuss the book one Saturday afternoon at her apartment in Chicago we discovered we had both highlighted the same passage: “The pleasure isn’t in owning the person. The pleasure is this. Having another contender in the room with you”. 

And... Haircut.

I always knew Sarah was smarter than me but it’s been my ambition to be a contender in the room with her and for the last 16 years we’ve been reading each other’s writing and challenging each other’s ideas- her thinking about art and love and how to make these things has shaped everything I have done in my professional life so deeply that really it’s kind of impossible to disentangle our work. I mean on our first date she said: “Imaginimg the future is a kind of nostalgia” which I promptly inserted into Looking for Alaska and still think is the best line in the book and in turn, I’ve read and helped edit the wall labels she wrote as a museum curator and the art assignment videos she writes now for her brilliant series with PBS digital.

I didnt’t like art when I met Sarah or at least I didn’t yet know that I liked art but she is so talented at helping people to see what can be useful and interesting and even transformative about making art and looking at it. Through her work Sarah has shown millions of people that art is not only about like 17th century masters painting portraits or for that matter only about the billionaires who collect those portraits and use them as tax shelters.

Art is people throughout history trying to capture and express something significant, something about what it felt like to be alive or what we valued or how we might shift our values and by helping me to understand that, Sarah has helped me find art not just interesting but essential because every once in a while, art just cracks me open like the first time I saw this Raymond Pettibon painting that ended up taking over my novel Turtles All The Way Down or when I first saw the imagined maps of Guillermo Kuitca which inspired much of my novel Paper towns. Other people's creative work fuels yours and vice versa- I learned that from Sarah and a lot more people are about to learn if from Sarah because she’s publishing a wonderful book called You Are An Artist.

This isn’t really Sarah’s first book: in her work as a museum curator she co-wrote Andy Warhol Enterprises and edited a really fascinating book about Graphite but this book is written for a much broader audience and it’s so good, I really think anyone who’s interested in making stuff or understanding how stuff is made will love it because as the title puts it so succinctly- You are an artist whether you know it yet or not.

The book brings together lots of assignments that are commissioned from artists as part of the art assignments but it also has lots of new assignments and fascinating essays about how contemporary artists are working and I’ve just learned so much from this book like the first thing I learned is probably that it’s harder to support someone who is writing a book than it is to write a book but also I learned so much about art and how life giving the act of creation is for humans. It’s so good. I feel like Sarah’s not going to brag about it adequately because she’s an esteemed scholar and curator and not a carnival barker but fortunately, she married a carnival barker.

You are an artist is an amazing book that will help you see the words in new ways and just maybe change your life, it has a a phenomenal cover, beautiful colour illustrations throughout- seriously, your life and your home are incomplete without this book. You are an artist is available for pre-order now wherever you get you books and it comes out on April 14th. 

Sarah- thank you for being a contender in the room with me and congratulations on your new book. You continue to astonish me even after all these years, in fact maybe especially after all these years.

Hank, I’ll see you on Friday.