Unartistic readers of Ayun Halliday's Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto may wonder why anyone in their right mind would pursue the creative life, given the statistically slim chance of achieving success, never mind financial solvency. But for readers with artistic ambitions, Halliday's guide will be something novel and invaluable: a self-helping pep talk with cartoons.
Halliday (Zinester's Guide to NYC), a puppet-favoring writer/performer whose literary output includes the long-running zine the East Village Inky, is realistic about her chances of becoming a big-name artist: "I have no illusions about the market prospects of an oddball variety show whose antiquated themes change monthly," she writes. In what amounts to a public service, she has tapped 37 fellow "small potatoes" to chime in on subjects relevant to artists determined neither to languish nor starve. Chapter titles include "Paying the Bills," "The World of Self-Doubt" and "The Perks of Being a Small Potato." In the latter, Halliday writes, "Staying relatively poor helps me not accumulate debt or loans to repay."
Creative, Not Famous swirls with tips ranging from the expected ("You have to swallow your pride and just push") to the inspired (artists should wear a self-advertising T-shirt on vacation "for extra souvenir photo mileage in front of natural wonders and iconic landmarks"). Scattered throughout the book are several dozen illustrations by Halliday and contributors; many images are drawings of anthropomorphized potatoes offering consolation, encouragement and a reminder not to take oneself too seriously: "Dot your i's. Cross your Ts. Make it the best looking garbage anyone's ever seen." --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer