My Top 12 Titles for Creatives – Thought Provoking work on Creativity

I find myself sharing many of the gems of wisdom found within these books with students, and thought that having a reading list resource for creatives would be a good addition to my blog. I hope you enjoy! The links are affiliate links: If you order, I receive a tiny credit from Amazon. I have listed them in no particular order….

But first: new work from my week at Menucha:

"Night by the Sea" ©Ruth Armitage, Watercolor on paper 15x22"

“Night by the Sea” ©Ruth Armitage, Watercolor on paper 15×22″

Some of my Favorite Reads:

First: A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger von Oech – This is a look at some of the psychological processes that happen during creativity. If I had to pick just one of these books for students to read, this might be the one!

 A Kick in the Seat of the Pants by Roger von Oech – More wisdom and creativity exercises from the author of A Whack on the Side of the Head. 

Another Great:

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield – This is a quick read, and a very motivational look at what holds us back from creating. I would probably rate this book as the 2nd most important on the list!

The Art Spirit by Robert Henri – a true classic.

Robert Genn Letters Vol. 1 & 2 – Short essays on creativity, painting, art, galleries and life. Genn attracted a cult following by writing ‘letters’ to his blog followers each week.

Bird by Bird by Anne LaMott – This book is about writing, but everything LaMott describes about creative writing also applies to painting and other creative pursuits. I love her sense of humor and self-deprecating wit. I can honestly say, this book helped me solidify my identity as an artist.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert – Gilbert somehow gets the nitty gritty of the mystical parts of the creative process. A very enjoyable read, and a new way to think about the ego.

Strictly for inspiration

Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver – Mary Oliver always inspires. She is a true creative genius.

Art and Fear by David Bayles & Ted Orland – a great read about the psychology of creativity.

The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp – Though Tharp describes her creative process as a choreographer and dancer, there are pearls of wisdom for all creatives in this fascinating peek into her world.

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon – A quick read with lots of food for thought.

For the Practical Minded:

I’d Rather Be in the Studio by Alyson B. Stanfield – This is a classic manual for how to create a business from your art. Artists don’t always think of themselves as business people. Alyson helps turn that thinking around with practical guidance to take you from hobbyist to professional.

Finally, The Creative Curve by Allen Gannett – I’ll admit, I haven’t read this one yet, but it will be next on my list. Gannett, founder and CEO of the marketing analytics firm TrackMaven examines the science behind whether ideas sink or swim in this fast-paced environment.

Do you have any favorite books on creativity or art? If I’ve missed your favorite, please share in the comments below!

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