Some people can’t imagine a world without art; others can’t live without both, while in the middle spectrum, some can’t live without the two. The thing is, artistic skills, creativity, and imagination are not only nurtured through constant practice and looking at the artworks of other artists. These can also be developed by reading books. Not only does reading improve your creative skills, but it also gives you the chance to unwind, reflect, and take a break, including from making artworks.
Accordingly, if you want to have good energy, you need to have a balance not just between work and life, but also between your “inputs” and “outputs.” Inputs are those activities that include meditation, journaling, and reading while outputs are the “more” productive tasks that result in a finished product such as creating artworks.
So, in this article, to help you find the balance as an artist while improving your skills, pause for a while. Give yourself some time to read with these recommended books for artists that are definitely worth your time. Keep on reading to learn more!
Recommended Books for Artists
As artists, it is just as important to read a wide range of genres, not just sticking to the categories we’re familiar with or comfortable reading. There is an infinite amount of niches waiting around for us to explore– try reading books of all sorts that will help you get motivated, inspired, creative, and imaginative. Accordingly, fiction will help you shape your imagination, as well as visualize, and conceptualize the weird and the wonderful.
On the other hand, art books are considered to be the most important for artists to help them discover techniques, art styles, and many more. Finally, if you need something to jumpstart your creativity or a dash of motivation, memoirs or biographies of artists will give you such. Here are some recommended books for artists that belong to three distinct genres:
Fiction or Fantasy
1. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll:
A common yet great example of literary nonsense, Alice in Wonderland is the epitome of what fiction and fantasy are all about– the weird and the wonderful. Falling into the rabbit hole may seem bad for a little girl but a whole new world awaits full of fantasies and anthropomorphic creatures that are more than just bizarre.
This novel inspired so many films, books, and visual arts of all sorts that will give you nightmares. While this book was originally marketed for children, it is perfect for artists who want to create and conceptualize weird places and creatures suited for their niche art pieces.
2. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Book 1 of the Peculiar Children Series) by Ransom Riggs:
Part one of the series of books that intertwined a fantasy narrative with old, creepy photographs collected by the author himself from thrift stores, this novel will put artists and readers in a thrill if they like to live in the shadows. The plot revolves somewhat like groundhog day, but darker and more horrifying, the peculiar children, as discovered by the main character, have to live on the same day in 1940 over and over again to survive. This book is great if you want a scary yet adventurous sensory-narrative experience to help you visualize surreal and dark artworks.
3. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde:
This is the perfect novel that combines art, philosophy, and fiction. A skillful novel concerning humanity and our view toward society. Oscar Wilde depicted his main character as beautiful, hedonic, yet lacking in morality and principles. Despite such, this is considered by many as one of the most recommended books for artists because it is a representation of the two ideals of the Renaissance– the beautiful and the moral, as corresponded by physical and spiritual realms. One thing you can learn from this classic? Art immortalizes the human soul– we get old and ugly but our artworks do not fade.
1. The Business of Being an Artist by Daniel Grant:
If you need a reference or resource to help you start with the art industry, this book is perfect for you. Accordingly, The Business of Being an Artist is a handy book if you wanna learn how to sell not just your art, but also your ideas either through galleries, dealers or even just by yourself. Thus, this is not just a helpful motivational book on your way to becoming a professional artist because it is a practical manual that also discusses the challenges and hardships of being one– and how to overcome them.
2. Renaissance Painting: The Golden Age of European Art:
A hardbound book full of colored reproductions of Renaissance paintings, short descriptions, and even analysis, this book is more than just an introduction to the Golden Age of Art. It includes the works of the three Renaissance giants– Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael as well as the other important figures of the age such as Titian, Caravaggio, Botticelli, and many more.
3. The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp:
Artists often experience creative blocks and this book is here to inspire and motivate you to get up and start creating. The Creative Habit is not just a book that teaches you how to be creative, it also gives you insights on how to apply your creativity not just in your artistic career, but also in practical pursuits of everyday life. In the author’s insights about her long career in the creative industry, she provided useful and simple exercises to improve your skills in this book to spark your creative mind.
Memoirs or Biographies
1. The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects by Giorgio Vasari:
Giorgio Vasari is considered as one of the most important figures of the Renaissance. Though he is not commonly referred to as a “Renaissance Man,” he was more than just a painter, he was an excellent architect, historian, writer, and biographer, too. In this book commonly known as The Lives, Vasari provided an overview of the different artists that were notable in his time including Giotto, Mantegna, Brunelleschi, and the three Renaissance giants, among others.
2. The Andy Warhol Diaries by Andy Warhol:
The leader of the Pop Art movement who became a Pop Icon himself, Andy Warhol’s memoir is unlike any other. It is filled with shocking controversies and revelations about his life, love, and career from the 1970s until he died in 1987. His diary, which was co-written by Pat Hackett (as it was dictated to him daily), also featured the lives of other significant figures of the art world of his time, including his friends Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring.
3. Frida by Hayden Herrera:
This book is more than just a biographical outlook of one of the most beloved female painters of all time, Frida Kahlo. Apart from bringing us an overview of a Frida’s tragic, yet colorful life, the author also provided a detailed analysis of her artworks, revealing stories about Kahlo’s life with her muralist husband Diego Rivera, her love affairs with other men, including Leon Trotsky, and her connections with the Communist Party.
Books are more than just friends, they’re like a family that can guide us in hardships and even motivates us while giving us ideas at the same time. We hope that you take the time to read this list of recommended books for artists to inspire and motivate your artistic career. Which book will you read first? Let us know in the comments!