101 Things to Learn

in Art School

by Kit White

I love books, all kinds of books: Art books, essays, novels. Still today, it remains one of the most extraordinary invention, a powerful way of sharing and traveling into the thoughts and emotions of others. It's a deep way to connect.

Books are food for thought, nutrient for heart, stimuli for brain, a perfect conveyor for stories. Books help us to become who we are. They make us smarter every day. They stimulate our memory, they enlarge our worldviews. When we think about it, they represent a huge and continuous stretch for the evolution of humanity. What would had happened without books all these years.

In his excellent post on Medium: "Why can’t we read anymore? Or, can books save us from what digital does to our brains?", Hugh McGuire wrote:

When I think back on my life, I can define a set of books that shaped me — intellectually, emotionally, spiritually. Books have always been an escape, a learning experience, a saviour, but beyond this, greater than this, certain books became, over time, a kind of glue that holds together my understanding of the world. I think of them as nodes of knowledge and emotion, nodes that knot together the fabric my self. Books, for me anyway, hold together who I am.
— Hugh McGuire

Indeed. Each book has its color, style and personality. I love having books around me, they are like a lively family helping me to grow a little more every day. Some days, I will go to them for a wise advice, a laugh, a consolation or an inspiration. Some days, I will just smile to a book in particular, remembering when I read it, where I was, in which city, train or plane. When I travel, I carry my office with me, my laptop, phone, notebooks, tablet (with a vast library in it), but also, believe it or not, one to three printed books!

My friends often ask me, how could I carry such a bag... when running in the streets of Paris, for example, coming from St.Malo. I don't know how this habit happened... with traveling a lot probably, I wanted to use, at best, my lost time in train station, subway or airport.

One of my favorite book that I would like to offer to everyone is 101 Things to Learn in Art School by Kit White.


First of all, the book is beautiful. A small square black book. Elegant, just the good size to carry with you. It's the quintessence of intelligence and simplicity. It includes lessons, demonstrations, and tips on what to expect in art school, what it means to make art, and how to think like an artist. When I read the book of Austin Kleon, Show your work (that I loved), I thought he could have been a student of Kit White who wrote the perfect book that we should all read if we aspire to become more creative, wise and smart.

Each word has its place, everything is so perfectly demonstrated with simplicity and refinement. Reading this book, you can awake the artist in you.

The author, Kit White, is a New York—based artist who is an Associate Professor in the MFA Program at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. He studied fine arts at Harvard University, and his work has been subject of numerous one-person-exhibitions in New York and beyond.

The funniest (and magical) part of the story. I didn't know Kit White before reading his book. At the time of my discovery, I was living in France, but teaching, twice a year, in Montreal (Canada). When I get to Montreal, I used to run to visit some cultural places that I missed so much in St.Malo. One of them is the Canadian Center for Architecture. It's at the library of the museum that I found the book of Kit White. I bought it for fun to show it to my PhD candidates students at Polytechnique School of Montreal. It looks simple, and I thought it would be a good introduction to art for engineers.

But page after page, I felt in love with this little book and became curious of whom was the author able in such a small format to share what is the most important to know to become an artist. You need to have a life behind you (of reading and practicing as an artist) to be able to write and draw such a book.

 We are all creative and my wish is that in a few years, maybe a few decades, we may all become artists if we succeed in our transformation into a world of possibility, another book (The Art of Possibility)  who made a big impression on me, but this is for another story.