What compels a person to become an artist, actor or singer, and to make the financial and comfort sacrifices that so often precede success, or accompany failure? A new book offers myriad, unscientific answers. The Art Life: On Creativity and Career is "as much curated as written," says author Stuart Horodner, artistic director of the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, which is publishing the 200-page book with funding from the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation. It will hit bookstores in February (distributed by D.A.P.).

Horodner, who co-owned Horodner Romley gallery in New York in 1992–97, spent five years gleaning quotes and insights from various sources: artist talks and panel discussions at the ACAC, the Internet, printed matter, casual conversation and e-mails. The compendium is not a how-to but a why? It offers nuggets of wisdom on "the practical and philosophical matters that shape every art life." Just received a crushing review? Take it from Franz Kline: "The real thing about creating is to have the capacity to be embarrassed."

Inspirations, muses, personal motivators and observations are provided by such figures as film directors Woody Allen and Werner Herzog, writers Wayne Koestenbaum and Orhan Pamuk, singers Johnny Cash and Lady Gaga, and artists Vito Acconci, Francis Bacon, Dana Schutz and Leon Golub, who notes: "There are three things: your work, your livelihood, and your personal life. If any two are going well at the same time consider yourself lucky."