Adam J. Kurtz's 'Things Are What You Make Of Them' Is A Bite-Sized Treasure Box Of Inspiration And Guidance For Creatives

Adam J. Kurtz
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I've always been the kind of person who decorates my walls with postcards, illustrations ripped from magazines, and index cards scribbled with quotes from my favorite books. So when Adam J. Kurtz's new book, Things Are What Make You of Them: Life Advice for Creatives landed on my desk a few weeks ago, I knew I had found my Patronus against any future creative block. The book — bite-sized and easy to tuck into your bag or back pocket — is a hundred or so pages of creative inspiration, motivation, and guidance, all printed out in Kurtz's signature scrawl on "torn out" pieces of paper accentuated by a neon background. But here's the real kicker: each and every page is perforated, so you can tear them out and tape them to your wall (like me) or dish them out to friends who may need a little inspiration in their lives.

The book is divided into 12 color-coded sections, which run the gamut from the practical — How to Stay Sane When You Work from Home and Working with Friends and Family — to the existential — How to Begin Again and How to be Happier. The advice is geared towards creatives, but honestly, these nuggets of wisdom are valuable mood boosters for people in any career path.

Daniel Seung Lee

Chances are, you probably already recognize artist and author Adam J. Kurtz, who has become known for his wry, playful brand of pick-me-up advice. He shares his artistic takes on Instagram, as well as in his previous books — 1 Page at a Time: A Daily Creative Companion and Pick Me Up: A Pep Talk for Now and Laterand on his online shop, where you can get a nice motivational phrase (like "You tried" or "Sorry I'm such an asshole") on a pin, a balloon, or a keychain.

Things Are What You Make of Them: Life Advice for Creatives, $89, Amazon

Still not convinced you need this book in your life? Here are nine pieces of advice from Things Are What You Make of Them that will definitely seal the deal:

1. It's Magical, Not Magic

Excerpted with permission from THINGS ARE WHAT YOU MAKE OF THEM by Adam J. Kurtz. © 2017 by Adam J. Kurtz. TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

"Anyone can tape into their creative energy to make something special with hard work & a little bit of luck."

2. "What's The Point?"

Excerpted with permission from THINGS ARE WHAT YOU MAKE OF THEM by Adam J. Kurtz. © 2017 by Adam J. Kurtz. TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

"If you're losing sight of the point or just feeling a little dull, take some time to sharpen & you'll be as good as new."

3. Feel Pride

Excerpted with permission from THINGS ARE WHAT YOU MAKE OF THEM by Adam J. Kurtz. © 2017 by Adam J. Kurtz. TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

"Feel proud that your peers or colleagues are finding success. Don't be jealous, be proud that what you all offer is clearly marketable, desirable, & garnering recognition."  

4. Forget The "Destination"

Excerpted with permission from THINGS ARE WHAT YOU MAKE OF THEM by Adam J. Kurtz. © 2017 by Adam J. Kurtz. TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

"Not 'arrive' at joy, but you can strive to create it in small & enjoyable ways. Stop searching for the end of it'll find you before you ever 'get there.'"

5. Plan Your Attack

Excerpted with permission from THINGS ARE WHAT YOU MAKE OF THEM by Adam J. Kurtz. © 2017 by Adam J. Kurtz. TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

"Think about how to next submit, apply, or present your work. Plan a course of action using what you know about what you have to offer & who might most appreciate or benefit from it."  

6. Be Accountable

Excerpted with permission from THINGS ARE WHAT YOU MAKE OF THEM by Adam J. Kurtz. © 2017 by Adam J. Kurtz. TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

"Don't let planning the thing trick your brain into thinking you've done it. Try trying??"

7. It's Okay To Say No

Excerpted with permission from THINGS ARE WHAT YOU MAKE OF THEM by Adam J. Kurtz. © 2017 by Adam J. Kurtz. TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

"This might be a great opportunity to pass a job along to someone else in your creative community. Weigh your options!"

8. Identifying Your Truth

Excerpted with permission from THINGS ARE WHAT YOU MAKE OF THEM by Adam J. Kurtz. © 2017 by Adam J. Kurtz. TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

"What's true is the experience you bring & the heart of the real, human person that you are."

9. Be F*cking Nice

Excerpted with permission from THINGS ARE WHAT YOU MAKE OF THEM by Adam J. Kurtz. © 2017 by Adam J. Kurtz. TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

"You never know when or how an interaction will snowball into the next cool opportunity."

Things Are What You Make of Them: Life Advice for Creatives by Adam J. Kurtz, $8.56, Amazon