As an artist, it’s essential to broaden your mind. You’ll discover new ideas, perspectives, and opinions. You never know when something might spark your creativity!
One of the best ways to continue to educate yourself and get inspired is by reading books. I’ve found that always having a great book on the go has pushed me to become a better artist over the years.
While some of these may be artistic books, they can span all topics and genres. Reading a wide range of books will ensure that you never stop learning.
So, here are some of my favorite books, as well as books recommended by other artists.
This list includes some of the best books about art, creativity, and much more besides. There’s something for everyone, so browse through and take your pick!
Click the links to find out more about each book and snag your copy. These are all amazing books artists should read, and you won’t regret investing in one (or all of them!).
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Top 10 Books Every Artist Should Read
Looking for some inspiration, a fresh perspective, or want to learn about a new topic? These artist books all come highly recommended and deserve a spot on your shelves.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
(Image credit: Steven Pressfield.Black Irish Entertainment LLC)
There comes a time that every artist struggles with creative block. Maybe you don’t have any fresh ideas or don’t know how to translate them onto canvas.
Or maybe you’re holding yourself back with your mindset and not believing in yourself.
If any of these situations sound familiar, then you need to pick up The War of Art right now.
In this pithy book, Pressfield shows you how to overcome any form of resistance that’s holding you back.
This book was originally written with writers in mind, but it’s just as applicable for visual artists. Once you’ve read this book, you’ll have a detailed and actionable plan for moving forward. You’ll know how to reach success (and actually be able to move forward and take action!).
Armed with this book, you’ll feel confident moving forward. Those blocks that were holding you back? They’ll be a thing of the past.Learn more
Design as Art by Bruno Munari
(Image credit: Bruno Munari. Penguin)
Although Design As Art was only published in 2008, it’s already described as a modern classic. And as an artist and designer, I thoroughly agree.
The author, Bruno Munari, was a revolutionary and inspirational designer of modern times. In this book, he shares how design can be practical and beautiful – rather than one or the other.
Within the pages, Munari examined everyday items like lamps, chairs, and cars. But with a unique take and years of experience, his perspective is like a breath of fresh air.
This book will open your mind and change the way you look at things. So even if you’re not a designer, it’s well worth picking up.Learn more
Mastery by Robert Greene
(Image credit: Robert Greene.Viking.)
Almost every artist dreams of becoming a master in their medium. But with so many contemporaries, it’s hard to stand out from the crowd.
If you’re tired of following the rules and doing what society deems fit, you need to pick up Mastery.
Robert Greene believes that masters need to learn the rules and then decide how to break them. In his opinion, true mastery comes from rewriting the rules in your own way.
Greene backs up his theory by examining many of the masters of days gone by. They include everyone from politicians to scientists and artists. By learning from these influential leaders, we can get onto a fast track to mastery.
If you want to find out how to become a master in your field, you won’t regret reading this book. It will teach you the essential phases you’ll need to work through to become a master. With a clear plan, you can make progress and know you’re moving in the right direction.Buy now
The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp
(Image credit: Twyla Tharp. Simon & Schuster )
If you’ve ever struggled to feel creative or often compare yourself to others, this book is for you. Author Twyla Tharp turns these ideas on their head to explore what creativity is and where it comes from.
Being creative isn’t any special talent or gift that you’re born with. Instead, within these pages, you’ll learn how to develop and harness your creativity.
The secret? Hard work, dedication, and effort.
But that’s not all. This book isn’t just filled with theory and talk. It has more than 30 practical exercises you can use to spark your creativity, too.
Tharp developed these exercises for her own use but wanted to share them with others. By working through these exercises, you’ll be prepared whenever creative block hits.
A useful book that will continue to inspire you again and again. The Creative Habit deserves a permanent spot on your bookshelves!Learn more
Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by Tom Kelley and David Kelley
(Image credit: Tom Kelley. David Kelley. Currency)
If you’ve ever doubted if you were creative, then listen up. This book will remove any trace of this thought from your mind forever!
This book is the work of brothers Tom and David Kelley. As founders of an influential design and innovation company, IDEO, they not only talk the talk. They walk the walk.
The authors believe that anyone is capable of being creative. You just need to learn how to tap into that creative potential within you.
They share stories from their experiences running IDEO throughout the book. But more importantly, they distill this shared knowledge down into practical strategies.
This book will affect both your personal and professional life. It does this by teaching you how to unleash and harness your creativity. It’s a book that you’ll be itching to put into practice as soon as you start reading.Learn more
Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils by David Bayles and Ted Orland
(Image credit: Image Continuum Press. David Bayles. Ted Orland)
Not everyone can be a genius – it’s just not possible. But Bayles and Orland, authors of Art & Fear, argue that you don’t have to be.
And that’s because the vast majority of art is made by ‘normal people.’ This book tackles the struggles that hold them – us – back.
Many great art books are intimidating and lofty. But Art & Fear is relatable, speaking to what artists truly feel. It was written by artists who’ve been there and want to share their wisdom and experience.
Art & Fear is the book to read if you want to feel seen and comforted. It doesn’t gloss over the trials and tribulations of the artist’s life. But it does offer hope and a deeper understanding of what holds so many artists back.
By reading this book, you can prevent these pitfalls and set yourself up for success.Learn more
Art, Inc. by Lisa Congdon
(Image credit: Lisa Congdon. Chronicle Books)
There are many dreamy, airy books about becoming an artist. But often, they neglect a key factor in the life of an artist: the fact that you actually need to make money.
But not Art, Inc. by Lisa Congdon. The subtitle of this book is ‘The Essential Guide for Building Your Career As an Artist’;. And it doesn’t disappoint.
In this book, Congdon prepares new and semi-successful artists to earn good money as an artist. Because it’s not enough just to create beautiful art in a vacuum.
To become an influential (and well-paid) artist, you also need to be a business person.
This book tackles important topics such as how to:
- Create realistic goals
- Earn more money
- Develop more than one income stream
- Handle the accounting and finances
- Protect your work with copyright
- Promote and market your art on social media
- And much more
It’s full of helpful tips you can start putting into action straight away. So, if you want to make a career as an artist, this book is an excellent how-to guide.Learn more
A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink
(Image credit: Daniel H. Pink. Riverhead Books)
In this daring book, Daniel H. Pink presents his view that right-brain thinkers are the future. Creative people haven’t always been held in the highest respect. But this author thinks that’s all about to change.
It’s not just conjecture, either. Pink has based his theory on detailed research and many studies.
The habits, talents, and qualities of creative people are exactly what we need in the world today.
According to Pink, we’re entering the Conceptual Age. In his opinion, six human abilities will be crucial in this time and age.
Grab this book to learn how you can develop these essential traits that are so necessary. Because only these traits will lead you to personal happiness and professional success.Buy now
Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
(Image credit: Austin Kleon. Adams Media)
Every young creative should read this slim tome as they embark on their adult life. But even if you’re picking it up later in life, it’s still well worth a read.
Austin Kleon based it on the convocation speech he gave at Broome Community College. So, it’s filled with helpful tips and things he wished he’d known at that age.
Over the years, Kleon has worked as a web developer, librarian, and copywriter. He writes books, illustrates, and is a father and husband. And through the pages of his book, you can absorb his wisdom. Anyone can apply the advice to their own life.
This book will help you to overcome imposter syndrome and start taking action. Here are some of the chapter titles to give you a sneak peek:
- Side Projects and Hobbies are Important
- The Secret: Do Good Work and Share it With People
- Creativity is Subtraction
Like the sound of that? Then, pick up this book and start reading! It’s sure to inspire you again and again.learn more
Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin
(Image credit: Seth Godin. Piatkus)
According to Seth Godin, it’s never been easier to step up and create a movement. The Internet has removed geographical barriers, making it possible to connect people worldwide.
But to take advantage of this technology, we need true leaders. Godin believes that although all sorts of tribes are looking for leaders, too few people step up to lead.
If you’ve ever wanted to lead and drive change, then this book is for you. You’ll love its daring take on the world and come away feeling motivated to lead the way.
‘Tribes’ is a quick read, but it’s thought-provoking and will leave you pondering its message. It’s one of the best accessible books on leadership with tons of examples from other leaders.
You could read this book in one go for a burst of inspiration from someone who’s not afraid of paving the way. It will inspire you to take action instead of ‘sheepwalking’ through life.Learn more
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The Wrap Up
With this rich selection of books, you’ll find something to inspire, challenge, or educate yourself. That’s whether you’re looking to learn about art and creativity or pick up some general life tips. So, take your pick and get stuck in!
Let me know which of these books you’ll add to your bookshelves in the comments below! Many of these books are worth reading again and again. You’ll take away something new every time!
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