I love picking up my art books and getting lost inside their pages. Mostly because they feel like a break from reality, a time to steep one’s self in a way of making, a philosophy, or stories of lived experiences that inform the art we have grown to love.
I love them whether they are bigger coffee table art books or smaller paperbacks and hardcovers that you can slip into your pack. While there are beautiful books one can prop up on a shelf as a design piece as much as a book with pages to be turned, I’ve found the following 6 art books an incredible, practical addition to any art lover’s bookshelf.
Jerry Saltz is an incredible human being. He began his career as an art critic at the age of 40 after being a truck driver and avoiding his creative impulses all his life. This book, published in 2020, is a book every creative person should read annually. It’s not about how to criticise art, it’s about the persistence, grit, and practicality of showing up every day and working at your craft. As Jerry says, this book won’t tell you how to make money as an artist, but it will kick you in the ass with love, pushing every one of us to be a better, more prolific creative version of ourselves. It’s compassionate, thoughtful, wise, funny, and buoys the reader into a state of creative positivity and empowerment. IPaintMyMind is a big fan of Jerry Saltz and what his writing means for future generations of creatives.
Feck Perfuction is like Be Here Now by Baba Ram Dass, except it’s meant for artists. His little vignettes are complemented by art, design, and book layout glory, and this small, pack-able book is gasoline for your creative fire. Unrelenting, sometimes, brash, and also wise & evocative in incredible ways, Victore’s years of teaching, design work, and consistent output makes him an incredible voice of perspective for those of us looking to lead insatiably creative lives. His years working with college students is born out in his style as well as his inimitable way of leading a horse to water. He’s a teacher through and through, a gateway for inspiring more of us to devote our lives to the uncertainty (less so every day) of a life of art-making.
This book is very much in the same vein as Jerry Saltz’ and James Victore’s spots on this list: it’s about demystifying creativity and getting you to go for it, already! It leads with the fact that all art is derivative, inspired by and informed by others, by history, by culture, and then spat out in our own, unique way. The 10 rules Kleon offers are about how we accept ourselves, learn to stop sweating it, and start making what we’re compelled to make. Ideas about perfection hold us back, and the reality is that we just need to start making now. Austin has gained cult status with this book, and rightly so, you should buy a copy right now. Get one for your ‘creative friend’ too.
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