I love books. I, obviously, also love art. So having a love of art-y books is kind of a no brainer. Today, I thought I would share a few of my favorite art-related books in case you're looking for some holiday gifts or some recommendations for yourself. I put my art-related books into two different categories, and I'm sharing 3 books in each category today.
The first category is books about art and the process of making art. There are tons of books like this, but, in my opinion, they are really hard to do well. First of all, there is always going to be the thought that I could be doing something creative instead of reading about it, so any book about creativity needs to be extra-engaging, and not the same as every other creativity book. These three books are my favorites because they are engaging and offer some new perspectives. You've probably heard of all three, but if you haven't or if you just need some extra motivation to pick one up, I highly encourage you to check them out.
Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. This is a little book with lots of big ideas that a person can read entirely in one sitting. Spend a few hours in an afternoon or a weekend morning reading this and then spend the rest of the day creating. Kleon's ideas really stick with you after you've finished reading the book (or at least they stuck with me) and he shares some new ways to approach living a creative life. I think this would be a really nice little present to give to someone. Kleon has also written a sort of sequel/companion book to this one called Show Your Work, which is also excellent.
The Creative License by Danny Gregory. Danny Gregory has written several books about creativity and making art, but this is the first one that I read and I think it is a great place to start with his work. I think this would be the perfect gift for someone who is looking to add more creativity to their life or who has always been creative but doesn't really consider themselves an artist. He writes a lot about ways to jump start creativity, develop creative habits and overcome any resistance or preconceived notions you may have about making art. Reading this (or any of Danny Gregory's work really) gets me so excited about life drawing.
Your Inner Critic Is a Big Jerk by Danielle Krysa. I love listening to Danielle Krysa, a.k.a. the Jealous Curator's, podcast and so it isn't a surprise that I love her latest book. She is so positive and encouraging and the book provides unique insights on a lot of the topics many people have written about before, and brings up some new ones. Most creativity books have exercises in them and I usually keep reading, thinking I'll go back to the exercises later and then never do. The exercises in this book got me so excited to create that I actually did them right away, which I feel is the mark of a good and useful book. Also, the paintings by Martha Rich that illustrate the book are gorgeous and delightful; you could buy the book just for those.
The other category of books are art books, visual books, illustrated books, whatever you want to call them. Books that aren't full of advice about making art, but that are full of wonderful and inspiring art to look at. As much as I love books, I don't actually buy very many - I get most books from the library. There are so many books that I want to read that I don't reread very many so I'd rather get them from the library. I'm always happy to buy art books though, because if I love the art I'll look at them over and over again. Here are some of my recent favorites:
100 Girls on Cheap Paper by Tina Berning. This is exactly what it sounds like - 100 images of girls rendered on cheap paper by German artist Tina Berning. I absolutely love all of the artwork in this book - all of the girls are expressive and beautiful but also messy and a little bit chaotic. Berning uses different types of media and the way that the girls are drawn or painted varies throughout the book, but each page is so clearly her style. I love opening the book to random pages whenever I feel like I need a jolt of inspiration. It makes me want to make hundreds of pieces on cheap paper too. I believe that this book is out of print, but I found plenty of used copies available on Amazon (mine came in pristine condition).
Bad Girls Throughout History by Ann Shen. Another book with illustrations of 100 women. It features remarkable women in history from Lilith to Malala Yousafzai, from all over the world and in many different industries. Shen researched, wrote, illustrated, and handlettered this book. It is gorgeous down to every detail. This is a perfect gift for anyone interested in art, history, feminism, or any combination of the three. If you have any kids in your life, I think this would be a great present for them - a whole book of role models to learn about.
Carry This Book by Abbi Jacobson. This books is a (somewhat real, somewhat imagined) look at what different people carry in their bags. Created by Abbi Jacobson of Broad City fame, this is a clever and imaginative illustrated book with tons of visual jokes. In Carry This Book, Jacobsen imagines and illustrates what real and fictional famous people might carry around with them and it is delightful. Who wouldn't want a look inside Beyonce's bag, or Steve Jobs's or Leslie Knope's or Michelle Obama's? The illustrations are quirky and colorful and all done by hand. This would be a great gift for the art and pop culture lover that you know.
Do you have any art book recommendations? Let me know if you do. I'd love to add them to my Christmas list.