8 Books That Deserve a Spot on Every Artist's Bookshelf

An inspiring, practical list for self-education.

We’re living in an age of rapid change. Now, more than ever, it’s important to strive to be lifelong learners; to focus on self-improvement, stay in touch with the achievements of human thought and get inspired. The .ART team put together a list of 8 books that, in our humble opinion, every artist should have on their bookshelf – especially in these times of a global lockdown!

1. The Artist’s Guide: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love by Jackie Battenfield

Where in the world are you going next? Start by looking at the world inside you.’

Employing real-life examples and a tough love approach”, Jackie Battenfield offers strategies for portfolio development, grant writing, self-promotion and marketing, with each chapter offering a range of professional artists’ opinions. Use this book as a comprehensive life-tested experiential guide and apply the advice to your own career.

2. Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity by David Lynch

Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper.’

If you, like us, ever wondered how David Lynch creates beautiful, strange and humorously absurdist films – you might be pleased to know that his methodology is no secret.

In ‘Catching the Big Fish’, he describes his creative process and his methods of work using transcendental meditation. Lynch puts forward the idea that finding inner peace is the best way of harnessing creativity, calling for the reader to dig deeper into their mind.

Do It: The Compendium by Hans Ulrich Obrist.

3. Do It: The Compendium by Bruce Altshuler

Whatever you do, do something else’.

This book marks the twentieth anniversary of curator Hans Ulrich Obrists landmark project – considered to be the longest-running and most far-reaching exhibition to ever take place. It features essays and documentations as well as instructions from over 200 artists, including Carl Andre, Jimmie Durham, Dan Graham, Yoko Ono, Christian Marclay, and Rosemarie Trockel.

4. Digital Art by Christiane Paul

Since the history of digital art is inextricably linked to the history of technology and the military industrial complex, and as military industrial complex was, in the mid 20th century, and still is dominated by a patriarchal culture, we will be looking at allot of men’.

Digital technologies have changed the ways in which we create and consume art, which has led to the emergence of entirely new forms such as internet and software art, digital installations and virtual and augmented reality. Christiane Paul surveys the various developments in digital art from its emergence in the 1980s to the present day while exploring pertinent themes raised by digital artworks.

5. How to Sell Art Online: Create Your Art Business Selling on eBay, Etsy and More! by Leilani R Casper

Who else wants to sell more art next month than all of last year? Turn your artistic talent into a goldmine!’

A simple and field-tested guide for selling your art online, with helpful tips and tricks from some of the world’s biggest sellers.

6. The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron

In times of pain, when the future is too terrifying to contemplate and the past too painful to remember, I have learned to pay attention to right now. The precise moment I was in was always the only safe place for me’.

Julia Cameron is an artist with four decades of experience. She is the author of more than forty books. A playwright, songwriter, and poet, she has multiple credits in theatre, film, and television. This book is an attempt to create a guide for ‘creative recovery’. She reminds us about the importance of pausing, developing the capacity for delight, being attentive, enjoying art and finding things that inspire you.

Art/Work: Everything you need to know (and do) as you pursue your art career by Heather Darcy Bhandari and Jonathan Melber.

7. Art/Work: Everything you need to know (and do) as you pursue your art career by Heather Darcy Bhandari and Jonathan Melber.

The art world is full of people who like saying ‘there are no rules in the art world’, which is only sort of true. There’s certainly nothing written in stone (there’s barely anything written on paper). But there are general customs in the art world, which you should know before you head our of the studio and start meeting these people’.

Art/Work is a practical guide for those who want to pursue an art career and more. It’s full of forms, charts, and sample agreements that youre likely to need when promoting yourself as an artist. This book also covers every step of the journey, from compiling your portfolio, raising funds and paying your taxes to protecting your IP rights and establishing your online presence. One of the focuses of Art/Work is launching your website, because as David Gibson, curator & critic, says, ‘not having a website is like not having a phone number. You have to have it. Every artist needs a website.’

8. How to Be an Artist by Jerry Saltz

‘You only need to convince seven people that your work is worth taking a chance on: four collectors, one art dealer, and two critics. Just seven!”

In ‘How to Be an Artist’, the Pulitzer Prize-winning art critic offers 70 rules, from the applicable to the technical.  These ‘rules’ include “Make Art for Now, Not the Future;” “There Are No Wasted Days;” and “There’s No Such Thing As Fear of Success.” Everyone from painters, to chefs, to musicians can take a leaf out of Saltz’s invaluable insight into what truly matters to emerging artists and their success.

.ART Team
.ART Team
members are global citizens with interests ranging from art history to social justice. If we had an office cat we would have called it Basquiat.