Tell Me I'm An Artist (Hardcover)

Tell Me I'm An Artist By Chelsea Martin Cover Image
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"A portrait of the artist as a work-in-progress" (Sharma Shields), this hilarious and incisive coming-of-age novel about an art student from a poor family struggling to find her place in a new social class of rich, well-connected peers is perfect for fans of Elif Batuman’s The Idiot and Weike Wang’s Chemistry

At her San Francisco art school, Joey enrolls in a film elective that requires her to complete what seems like a straightforward assignment: create a self-portrait. Joey inexplicably decides to remake Wes Anderson’s Rushmore despite having never seen the movie. As Tell Me I’m An Artist unfolds over the course of the semester, the assignment hangs over her as she struggles to exist in a well-heeled world that is hugely different from any she has known.
Miles away, Joey’s sister goes missing, leaving her toddler with their mother, who in turn suggests that Joey might be the selfish one for pursuing her dreams. Meanwhile, her only friend at school, the enigmatic Suz, makes meaningful, appealing art, a product of Suz's own singular drive and talent as well as decades of careful nurturing by wealthy, sophisticated parents.
A masterful novel from an author known for her candid and searching prose, Tell Me I’m An Artist examines the invisible divide created by class and privilege, ruminates on the shame that follows choosing a path that has not been laid out for you, and interrogates what makes someone an artist at all.

About the Author

CHELSEA MARTIN is the author of the essay collection Caca Dolce and the novella Mickey, among other books. She lives in Spokane, WA with her husband and child.


Praise For…

A NYLON Most Anticipated Book of the Year
A Millions Most Anticipated Book of the Year

"Tell Me I’m An Artist is a stunning, hilarious, perfect ode to growing up and growing into yourself as a girl, a person, a friend, a family member, and an artist . . . A masterpiece and a piece of comedic genius; I loved it and so will you." —Julia Hass, A Literary Hub Most Anticipated Book of the Year

"An art student wrestles with creative and family trouble in this empathetic novel. . . . The art school comedy of manners gives way to a deeper story about navigating disparate worlds and struggling with situations without easy answers. An unconventional and subtly powerful coming-of-age story." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Martin’s youthful, character-driven latest digs into imposter syndrome and class differences among a crew of San Francisco art students . . . With a series of short, one-to-five-page scenes spliced by Joelle’s Google searches and handwritten journal entries, Martin captures her protagonist’s youthful insecurity and desire for creative direction . . . [Her] humor shines." —Publishers Weekly

"Portrait of the artist as a broke and brilliant, hungry and funny young woman, Chelsea Martin’s Tell Me I’m An Artist is an acutely felt and beautifully rendered depiction of all the absurd, messy, complicated layers of trying to make things, a story of not only ambition and yearning, but also of triumph and loving." —Lynn Steger Strong, author of Want

"Overflowing with humor and honesty, Tell Me I'm An Artist interrogates the life of the artist from an engrossingly contemporary angle. It's a monument to the big and small ways in which we craft our notions of artistry, and to Chelsea Martin's dazzling skill as a writer." —Alexandra Kleeman, author of Something New Under the Sun

“In Tell Me I’m An Artist, Chelsea Martin tells my favorite kind of love story—that between an artist and her work. She explores how crippling self-doubt, desperation and abject terror are all threads of the creative process, tangled up with euphoria, self-discovery and transcendence.” —Hallie Bateman, author of Directions

“Chelsea Martin has quietly become one of our most prolific and hardworking contemporary writers—always fresh yet understated, calmly insightful, mumbling profundity so casually that one questions whether she recognizes its brilliance. Tell Me I'm An Artist is another home run, impossible not to devour immediately. Never before have I read such a precise encapsulation of the under-addressed ennui of family dysfunction and mother-daughter relationships.” —Darcie Wilder, author of literally show me a healthy person

"The funniest, smartest, Chelsea-est novel you could only dream of. I savored every page, and when I finished, I wanted to begin again. In the form of lists, internet searches, fragments, and impeccable pacing, Chelsea Martin tackles the notion of being an 'artist' in this unpredictable and colorful novel for our times." —Chloe Caldwell, author of The Red Zone: A Love Story

Tell Me I’m An Artist perfectly renders the high-drama of artistic procrastination—the anxiety, the doubt, the hesitation, the momentary flights of confidence, the will I/won’t I. It’s warm, it’s deadpan, it’s absurd. I loved this book.” —Halle Butler, author of The New Me

"Anyone who has ever tried to do meaningful work in spite of a growing suspicion that nothing matters will find a home in this hilarious, heart-piercing book, and a memorable companion in its young but wise narrator. Chelsea Martin is a born storyteller.” —Emily Gould, author of Perfect Tunes

"Deft and exquisite and singular, Chelsea Martin's Tell Me I'm an Artist urges us to consider what we owe—a lot or a little or zilch—to our families, our friends, our ambitions, ourselves. Funny and crushing, lithe and deep, this novel is that rare combination of pleasure and profundity, a portrait of the artist as a work-in-progress." —Sharma Shields, author of The Cassandra and The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac

Product Details
ISBN: 9781593767211
ISBN-10: 1593767218
Publisher: Soft Skull
Publication Date: September 20th, 2022
Pages: 368
Language: English