Many people do not like the idea of reading books. They think that books are boring and time-consuming. However, if you want to get into arts, reading books is mandatory because that’s where you’ll get your inspiration and that’s where you’ll know more about art movements, famous artists, paintings, exhibits, museums, and everything in between. Realistically, beginners learn about creating artworks using first-hand experiences of being immersed in the type of art that they want to pursue. But to maximize their knowledge, it is also great to learn more about their field through reading books, especially during their free time. As mentioned in our previous blog posts, it’s not just the output (finished artworks, doing work) that makes a person creative, it is also the “inputs” (reading books, reflecting) to give a harmonic balance in creativity; it also prevents you from artist’s block as well. So with these, let us discover the importance of reading as an artist, and at the end of the discussion, let’s look at some of the most recommended art books for every level.
Reading books is very important for beginners, especially for those who don’t attend art classes. With books, you’ll have a support system that will keep you inspired, help you strategize and learn, while filling in the gaps of your knowledge. Thus, as an artist, you must never stop learning so one of the best ways to keep yourself educated is by reading, especially if you don’t go to art school.
Even though the Internet provides many summaries and key information regarding art already while social media keeps you posted with the latest art trends, nothing beats the good old books to keep you well-informed in the art world. Based on this, you might begin to wonder why it is important for artists and alike to read? Let’s proceed to that discussion first before we give you some recommendations for art books for every level.
Reasons Why You Should Read Books as an Artist
1. It promotes critical thinking skills:
One essential skill of an artist is to think critically because such a skill is related to being creative. Other than creating artworks, most artists also analyze other forms of art to keep them inspired. By reading books, it teaches them how to critique art objectively and subjectively, how to interpret artworks, and so forth.
Being analytical doesn’t stop there though. This skill also allows you to be more spontaneous during the creative process of you making paintings.
2. It gives you a full, unbiased perspective in art history:
Much information from the internet is not fully fact-checked and most of it is one-sided history. Meaning, they do not look at several verified perspectives, most articles lack scholarly knowledge, and some are just fallacious. With books, you get detailed accounts of specific instances in art history, true accounts of the lives of celebrated artists, how to create art just like the old Master Painters, and much more.
3. It helps you expand your artistic horizons:
Published authors are experts in fields, so reading books will not only give you background knowledge about art, it will also allow you to gain expertise from them, as well. They say that experience is the best teacher but the second best teacher next to it is books because books don’t lie.
A List of Art Books for Every Level
We hope that the above reasons as to why it is necessary for artists and creatives to read books motivate you to stay curious by reading. Now, let’s proceed to the actual part of our discussion where we give you a curated list of art books for every level that you can try to read to help you shape your artistry better.
Art books that are beginner-friendly:
1. 30-second Great Art
Author: Lee Beard
Number of pages: 160
Published year: 2018
Short Description: It guides the reader on an enthralling journey of 50 top-tier works by artists ranging from Giotto to Marlene Dumas, and includes a full-page reproduction of each work, as well as text that contextualizes it in the world in which it was made, and adds another component to the jigsaw puzzle of fine arts.
2. The Story of Art
Author: E.H. Gombrich
Number of pages: 688
Published year: 1955
Short Description: For nearly four decades, The Story of Art, one of the most famous and popular books on art ever published, has been a global bestseller. Readers of many ages and backgrounds have been drawn to Professor Gombrich's work because of its clarity and simplicity. He is a real master who blends knowledge and insight with a unique knack for sharing his profound love of the topic.
Art books for experienced artists
1. Abstract art: Basic Art Series 2.0
Author: Dietmar Elger
Number of pages: 96
Published date: 2017
Short Description: This important introduction stretches the international breadth, conceptual depth, and seismic impact of abstract art with a detailed study not only of the big names like Picasso, Klee, Kline, Rothko, and Pollock, but also lesser-known figures like Antoni Tàpies, K. O. Götz, Ad Reinhardt, and Sophie Taeuber-Arp who constructed equally important contributions.
2. Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
Author: Austin Kleon
Number of pages: 160
Published date: 2012
Short Description: Steal Like an Artist is a motivating guide to originality in the digital era that offers 10 revolutionary concepts to help readers explore their artistic side and live a more creative life.
Art books for every level: Expert edition
1. Wall and Piece
Number of pages: 240
Published date: 2006
Short Description: Banksy, the now-famous "guerilla" street artist from the United Kingdom, has painted walls, streets, and bridges in cities all over the world. He's not just gotten his work into four major New York City art institutions, but he's also "hung" his work at London's Tate Gallery and painted satirical pictures on Israel's West Bank barrier. Banksy's true identity is unknown, but his art is recognizable, with images fetching up to $45,000.
2. Concerning the Spiritual in Art
Author: Wassily Kandinsky
Number of pages: 80
Published date: 1977
Short Description: It clarifies Kandinsky's personal painting philosophy as well as the concepts that influenced many other contemporary artists at the time. This book, together with his own pioneering paintings, had a huge influence on the development of modern art.