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An Artist’s Reading List

Hello again. I imagine at the moment, lots of us are catching up with reading all those books we’ve been meaning to get around to. It made me wonder which books artists recommend for other artists.

I had a quick look at Google for artists ‘ must read’ lists, to see which titles everyone thought were most useful. There are a couple that seem to appear on every list; ‘Art & Fear’: David Bayles and Ted Orland, and ‘The Artist’s Way’: Julia Cameron. After that, well, there are simply dozens.

As it happens, I’ve read both ‘Art & Fear’ and ‘The Artist’s Way’ and while I thought both were interesting, neither would appear on my list of go-to artist reads. Which just goes to prove, when it comes to artists, one size definitely does not fit all.

Looking back at the books I’ve read over the years, it seems to me they can be loosely divided into the ones that aim to give you gentle encouragement and those that are designed to give you a kick up the bottom. My favourites are definitely more in the gentle encouragement camp.

So, just for the fun of it, these are the six books I’ve found most useful.

Big Magic’ : Elizabeth Gilbert. ‘How to live a creative life and let go of your fear’ is the subtitle, which pretty much sums up the book. Reading this is a bit like being wrapped in a comfort blanket.

The Confident Creative’ & ’Making Art A Practice’ : Cat Bennett. Both of these books are a combination of practical ways to develop your art and insights into what it means to live creatively. These beautiful books are my absolute favourites and I re-read or dip into them frequently.

Steal Like An Artist’ & ’Show Your Work’ : Austin Kleon.’10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative ‘ is the subtitle to ‘Steal…’ and it’s brilliant advice, delivered in Kleon’s personal style. Easy to read, clear, no nonsense and very supportive. ‘Show Your Work’ encourages artists to put their work out there, something lots of us struggle with.

And last but not least, ‘I’d Rather Be In The Studio’ : Alyson B Stanfield. This is the closest book on my list to the kick up the bottom style and to be honest, it’s perhaps a little out of date by now, but Stanfield wrote the book to help artists sell themselves and their work, and most of her advice is still relevant today. It’s a serious book, but for me, a very helpful, if not always comfortable read.

There you are then, my, totally biased, favourites.

What about you? Which books have given you a helpful nudge? Which artist books would you share with your artist community? Follow The Workhouse on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and tell us your must-read titles.

Stay safe.

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