5 Books Every Artist Should Read

Sometimes, to break out of a creative rut, or expand past what our own perceived limitations are, we need a bit if outside expertise and inspiration. The following books are some of the best books available for any creative person who seeks to develop and grow their creative expression. We all need help and guidance as we follow our creative paths, so look to these inspirational and motivational books to give you a needed jolt of determination, or just a moment to step outside of yourself and gain a new perspective.

The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield
The War of Art emphasizes the resolve needed to recognize and overcome the obstacles of ambition and then effectively shows how to reach the highest level of creative discipline. Think of it as tough love . . . for yourself. Whether an artist, writer or business person, this simple, personal, and no-nonsense book will inspire you to seize the potential of your life. Think of The War of Art as Sun-Tzu for the soul. What keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do? Why is there a naysayer within? How can we avoid the roadblocks of any creative endeavor—be it starting up a dream business venture, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece? Identify the enemy that every one of us must face, outline a plan to conquer this internal foe, then pinpoint exactly how to achieve the greatest success.

The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharp
Sometimes, all it takes to make creativity a part of your life is the willingness to make it a habit. It is the product of preparation and effort, and is within reach of everyone. Whether you are a painter, musician, businessperson, or simply an individual yearning to put your creativity to use, The Creative Habit provides you with 32 practical exercises based on the lessons Twyla Tharp has learned in her remarkable thirty-five-year career. In "Where's Your Pencil?" Tharp reminds you to observe the world -- and get it down on paper. In "Coins and Chaos," she gives you an easy way to restore order and peace. In "Do a Verb," she turns your mind and body into coworkers. In "Build a Bridge to the Next Day," she shows you how to clean the clutter from your mind overnight. Tharp leads you through the painful first steps of scratching for ideas, finding the spine of your work, and getting out of ruts and into productive grooves. The wide-open realm of possibilities can be energizing, and Twyla Tharp explains how to take a deep breath and begin.

The Artists' Way, by Julia Cameron
The Artist’s Way is the seminal book on the subject of creativity. An international bestseller, millions of readers have found it to be an invaluable guide to living the artist’s life. Still as vital today—or perhaps even more so—than it was when it was first published one decade ago, it is a powerfully provocative and inspiring work. In a new introduction to the book, Julia Cameron reflects upon the impact of The Artist’s Way and describes the work she has done during the last decade and the new insights into the creative process that she has gained.

Spiritual Doodles & Mental Leapfrogs: Playbook for Unleashing Spiritual Self Expression, by Katherine Q. Revoir
With a whimsical sense of fun and fancy that masks a much more serious quest to integrate your conscious and subconscious selves, Katherine Revoir has created a playbook full of exercises and games to ignite your best self -- both your rational, analytical, and logical (left brain) self and your intuitive, expressive, and creative (right brain) self. By using both halves of the brain, you can achieve more complete introspection and expand your spiritual consciousness. Hand-lettered, lay-flat pages make doodling easy. The book begins with an exercise designed to access inner guidance, creating a pathway for finding your own unique formula for self-expression. Spiritual Doodles and Mental Leapfrogs gives readers a private, powerful tool to experiment with creativity, to try something new, and to grow spiritually.

Art & Fear, by David Bayles and Ted Orland
Art & Fear explores the way art gets made, the reasons it often doesn't get made, and the nature of the difficulties that cause so many artists to give up along the way. The book's co-authors, David Bayles and Ted Orland, are themselves both working artists, grappling daily with the problems of making art in the real world. Their insights and observations, drawn from personal experience, provide an incisive view into the world of art as it is experienced by artmakers themselves. This is not your typical self-help book. This is a book written by artists, for artists — it's about what it feels like when artists sit down at their easel or keyboard, in their studio or performance space, trying to do the work they need to do.