Amanda Palmer's – The Art of Asking


I was supposed to be getting on with organizing my life this weekend. Instead I inhaled Amanda Palmer‘s new book ‘The Art of Asking‘. It’s a compelling read for any ‘maker’, anyone who’s interested in connecting and making a difference with what they do.

I was vaguely aware of The Dresden Dolls, Palmers early 2000’s band but it wasn’t until I heard Seth Godin’s Domino Project speak about her enormously successful Kickstarter campaign that I started paying attention. The kickstarter campaign let to a TED talk which led to the book. The TED talk is a good place to start – check it out below and let’s talk some more.

The book covers the story in the video and so much more. It charts Palmer’s career arc, her intersection with Neil Gaiman and then life beyond. From the 8 foot bride in Harvard Square to Kickstarter sensation. Through it all you get the sense that she hasn’t really changed much, grown and matured most certainly, but the thread of wanting to connect at a deep level seems to be a constant.

I’m looking forward to rereading the book to see what I get out of it on a second run through but from the first reading what stuck with me were a couple of things. First it’s amazing to me how someone who appears to be really extroverted can be so wracked with insecurity. Perhaps everyone creating things that are important to them and putting them out in the world have these doubts, but I was shocked.

Of course the big theme for the book is asking, the exchange that occurs between artist and community or audience. Why is it so difficult for some of us to ask for things – help, money etc. and equally why is it so hard for some to accept help, money etc. when it’s offered? If you follow Palmer’s career she’s spent almost her entire professional life participating in this exchange – asking, giving and receiving. Putting herself out there, being vulnerable and trusting. By doing this time and time again, being authentic and showing up, she’s built an enormous following.

A role model for anyone who wants to develop a supportive community who could sustain their creative work? I think so.

Get the book here and follow Amanda and Neil on twitter they are very active and there’s always something interesting in their twitter fields. Finally check out the interview of Amanda by Maria Popova of Brain Pickings below. It’s excellent.

9 Replies to “Amanda Palmer's – The Art of Asking”

      1. You’re welcome! She gives a great retort to why shouldn’t she be able to raise money to do what she wants artistically and that she’s worthy of using crowd funding. It’s not arrogant – it’s the calm facts of this is what artists need to do their art.

  1. Thank you for introducing us to Amanda Palmer. I believe she hit the nail on the head as to why artists do not ask for help. Asking does make you vulnerable because the worst thing that could happen is that everyone says no to you, which means they are not only saying no to funding you or helping you out, but ultimately saying no to the core of who you are and what you believe in.

  2. Interesting perspective. I agree the exchange of asking and receiving is hard to master. Having moved from a very populated area with almost complete anonymity, asking for help from neighbors is rare. Now, living in a community of less than 6500, j have neighbors always offering help, and I don’t have the balls to walk next door and ask to borrow a snow shovel. It’s foreign and beautiful and some point I will give into the exchange and ask for that shovel.

    1. Oh my goodness it’s hard to ask for things. To step outside of the safe little worlds that we construct for ourselves and be vulnerable.

      It sounds like it gets easier but it’s awfully hard from where I am right now.

      Good luck! Let me know how it goes.

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