Co-authors David Bayles and Ted Orland wrote Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking as a guide for aspiring and struggling young artists of today. Their primary point is to remove artmaking from the "Mozart-like" geniuses of the world, since those geniuses only come about "once a century or so" ("Introduction"). Instead, the world is full of people perfectly capable of making "Ordinary art," which too has its place in the world ("Introduction"). The trick is understanding that even talent can be taught and learned, because while some talent comes naturally, the fact is it takes a great deal of hard work to nurture that talent. Talent can be "nurtured by others" to help the artist "make [their] work personal" and find and "follow [their] own voice" (p. 3).
The authors particularly use their book to explain how the artist can overcome fears such as the fear that no one really cares what you do, the fear that you aren't good enough, and the fear that you have no audience or rewards for your efforts. The authors split their book into two. The first part is dedicated to helping artists overcome their own emotion-related fears and problems. The second part is dedicated to helping artists overcome fears and problems related to the artist's environment such as reactions from others, fear of facing competition from other artists, finding an audience for your work, and even how to make use of the academic setting to enhance your artmaking.