Joe Fig interviews 24 contemporary artists (from the usual to the young) and askes them each the same questions. From "what kinds of paints do you use and special devices" to "when were you able to dedicate yourself full-time to being an artist?" The questions are exactly what artists want to know and (I think) are very revealing about the artists themselves. This provides a whole way of looking at art that is often left out of art history. The whole book is a good read.
I would like to highlight one answer by Chuck Close that hit me hard. Its one of those things I have been thinking, but not able to put words to:
Q: What advice would you give a young artist that is just starting out?
Close: I see this time – which is from 1980 on – as one long period during which appropriation has been the prime modus operandi … and there’s been this raiding of the cultural icebox in this period … invention, innovation and personal vision have all been demoted. I think that while appropiation has produced some interesting work … for me, the most interesting thing is to back yourself into your own corner where no ones else’s answers will fit. You will somehow have to come up with your own personal solutions to this problem that you have set for yourself. I never wanted people in front of my work thinking about another artist.
See, I think our society is much to problem-solving oriented. It is far more interesting to participate in "problem creation" — it is more interesting than problem solving.