This article is by Clint Watson, former art gallery owner/director/salesperson and founder of FineArtViews. You should follow Clint on Twitter here.
The Art of Non-Conformity*
is a new book by fellow blogger, Chris Guillebeau
. And, refreshingly, it's of the actual dead-tree variety. You remember those - they're the ones you can actually put on a shelf, make notes in, and best of all, they even work when your internet is down and the power goes out! 
Chris generously sent me an advance copy of AONC, which launched officially on September 7th. The subtitle of the book is, "Set Your own rules, live the life you want and change the world." And that's exactly
what Chris has done: set his own rules, escaped the "rat race", and lived the life he wants. He's recently traveled to over 100 countries, and is on track to visit every country on earth
...all while building a thriving online community and successful business that supports his chosen lifestyle. The book is, essentially, the "Chris Guillebeau formula" to show you how he did it.
As I read the first few chapters of the book, they were filled with inspirational stories of people who live amazingly free, successful lives. Interspersed with those stories, you're treated to lessons explaining the life-principles that these people and Chris have utilized to gain their freedom.
At first blush, I found myself interested, but searching for something new and different. A lot of the ideas in first part of the book, really, are common sense success principles wrapped up in a new package. Then something dawned on me. An amazing thought, really. And I share this thought with all gratitude and humility. In fact, I'm a bit reluctant to share it because I never want to sound boastful, but if Chris's stories inspired me, maybe mine can inspire someone else. You see: Chris's book is about my life, too.
Not literally, of course. But you have to understand, I've already escaped the "rat race." I already
set my own rules and live my life the way I want. Through constant hard work, changes, and gradual improvements in my life and my business, I eventually gained my freedom to do great work that I find interesting
. And since I love my work, I tend to work a lot. But a side-effect of working so much is that I spend my days down "in the trenches" rarely coming up for the 30,000 foot view. While reading Chris' book, I realized that, at some point during all that hard work, I had "made it", at least in the sense that really matters - being free to set my own destiny. And that's a real lesson: Shoot for freedom, not money. Chris covers that lesson to too. He personally lives a remarkably "unconventional" life on a relatively modest income. Many people, including artists, do.
Deep down, of course, I already knew these things. But it's an amazing feeling to realize millions of people buy books like this due to a burning hunger to be free
. And I'm there. Wow. Thanks Chris for making me reaffirm the gifts God has given me.
So, while these types of books don't entice me as much as they once did, they offer extremely valuable
insights for those who are starting their journey. Chris could very well inspire this generation like Stephen Covey inspired previous ones. So, If you're starting the journey, or struggling somewhere along the way, do yourself a favor. Buy Chris' book
*. If you do you'll get there faster than I did. I wish I had read this book 15 years ago.
Incidentally, the journey never really ends, your focus just shifts. While gaining
your freedom you figure out how to help yourself
live the life you
want. Once you reach that waypoint, you start spending more time figuring out how to help others
live the life they
want. After all, if you help others make their lives better, it will also make your life better.  This is something Chris talks about in later chapters.
One advantage this book has over ones by past "gurus" like Covey: it's an updated
take on how to live the life you want, because Chris discusses some specifics of the modern Internet economy and how to leverage modern technology to build your freedom (something I've personally experienced many times. You literally can
work from anywhere if you set up the right kind of business processes).
OK, so we've established you
should read this book no matter who you are. And if you're an artist - you should read it, follow it, and become wildly successful. 
Seriously, I think artists should
read this book.
Specifically, artists need to read the concept about building your own small "army" on page 127. Chris says you've got "to build a following of loyal fans and patrons to support you." Something we've discussed previously on this blog with our mantra "community precedes commerce." It's also the reason we continually stress the power of email newsletters
A lot of artists seem to struggle to know what to do
with modern technologies like blogs. Frankly, I sometimes wish Duane Keiser
hadn't been so successful being the first "daily painting" blogger, not because I wish him ill-will, I'm happy
it worked for him. However, he garnered so much press coverage
during those heady, early blogosphere days that his story spread far and wide. And many artists thought
they could just emulate what he did to be successful. (while conveniently ignoring the fact he already
had a big following when he started his daily blog) This has lead to a glut
of artist blogs that, really, are nothing more than a serialized version of these artists' art portfolios. These are not engaging
blogs. Frankly, as someone who collects art, I hate it when an artist's only
"portfolio" is a blog - it's a pain in the butt to try to see all their artworks. Give me a portfolio where I can see everything you do easily!
So, what is the right
way to use blogs and other modern forms of communication for artists to be successful?
Chris provides an insightful answer on page 135 where he discusses how to motivate your "army" of followers. He writes, "Motivation comes in three forms: inspiration, education and entertainment." That's what your blog should do
. A prime example of an art-related blogger who executes the "inspire, educate, motivate" strategy brilliantly is Hugh MacLeod
In short, every artist should purchase this book and read Chapter 7, "The Power of Your Own Small Army." That chapter alone is worth the ridiculously low $10.08 price of the book.
In the letter Chris sent me with the advance copy of the book, he wrote that he wants the message of the book to spread far and wide. In his own words, that message is:
"You don't have to live your life the way other people expect you to. You can do good things for yourself and make the world a better place at the same time. Here's how to do it." - Chris Guillebeau
If you're not already living the life you want, then this book is for you. If you are
already living the life you want, then it's still
for you: Grab a copy of the book, read it to reaffirm your blessings, glean new insights into how you can be even more effective, and then pass it on to someone else who's not there yet. Click here to order your copy of The Art of Non-Conformity*
 After Chris sent me the advance copy, I kept wondering when the heck I would have time to devote to reading it in a timely manner (to coincide with the Unconventional Book Tour
he's embarking upon). The universe provided the answer one afternoon. All our power went out for about 5 hours. No internet, no power, no Google reader. So I picked up Chris's book. I'm glad I did.
 When I say helping others make their lives better also makes your life better, I don't mean it just in some abstract "karma" sense (although that is a real and important aspect, on the whole what comes around does
go around). I also mean it in a very real, economic, sense. For example: if my company, FASO
, actually somehow improves an artist's life so he can live the life he wants - that artist will reward us with his (or her) dollars.
 and then you'll be able to continue to patronize FineArtStudioOnline.com :-)
* Affiliate links