Friday, December 8, 2023


“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” -Maya Angelou

Life, when looked at from certain angles, can be seen as a series of defeats. We try, we fail, we move on to the next. Looked at from other angles, though, it is a panoply of rich learning experiences unlike those of any other creature living now, before or ever again. Our lives – the successes, the failures, the lessons of both – are ours and ours alone. Lean into the experiences, good or bad, and believe that each one has something to offer.

Sarah Slappey spoke to us in late April. She was just coming off some big deadlines. A painter primarily, Slappey is now gearing up to plan her next body of work. During this period, she explained, she spends time drawing, looking at books and staring out windows, all of which feel unproductive in a way, but are often challenging and always important parts of her process. Her drawing practice is multi-layered. She keeps a “no bad ideas” sketchbook at home in which she draws quickly in comic book-style boxes. The next level up is her studio sketchbook where she makes more formal drawings in preparation for paintings. Her drawing has become its own separate practice, and as little as a quarter ultimately become paintings. To hear more about her process, her work and more, listen to the complete interview.

Edoardo Ballerini spoke to us about his career in multiple fields, including as an actor. Although initially a film and television actor, his career, for a time, splintered off into the audio world. Recently, though, he was offered a role in Hulu’s upcoming limited series Retreat. For Ballerini, this was the first time in seven years he returned to a film set. Ballerini, who voiced several audiobooks including the My Struggle series by Karl Ove Knausgaard, describes the differences in preparation for film and television vs. audio. To hear this conversation and more, listen to the complete interview.

A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:

Defeat, when looked at in a certain light, can be our best ally.

Interviews are available on iTunes as podcasts, and for Android please click here. All weekly essay pieces in a shareable format are here. The full archive of interviews is here.

Books to Read

What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. Indulge in My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard, audiobook ready by Edoardo Ballerini. Sarah Slappey recently finished The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time by John Kelly.


Art Fluent’s grant cycle is currently accepting applications from individual artists from around the world. The Evolution grant offers unrestricted funding to artists of excellence who demonstrate a commitment to their art. For more information and to apply, visit the website. Deadline for applications is June 10.

is an author, artist and educator. He is the director of Praxis for Aesthetics. He has written six books for artists, most recently Making it in the Art World.


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