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Creative Business

The top 10 essential creative books every creator needs to read

One of my values is "Never stop learning – you’ll never be finished." I'm all about learning and growing so I can be the best version of me, and help you be the best YOU! One of the ways I do that is by reading, so I want to share some of my favourite creative books with you. Some of these books have legitimately changed my life and my approach to creativity, so I 100% recommend them all to you!

And I'm always reading, so I'll be updating this list as I find more amazing creative books for ya!

*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

This is my absolute FAVOURITE book on creativity ever. So much so that I have a tattoo based on a part of this book! It's all about the magic of ideas and creativity and I love it. I hope you do too!

From the worldwide bestselling author of Eat Pray Love and City of Girls the path to the vibrant, fulfilling life you've dreamed of. Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert's books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the "strange jewels" that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

Find Your Artistic Voice: The Essential Guide to Working Your Creative Magic

As creatives we all struggle with finding our voice as we get started, so I LOVE this book from Lisa Congdon! Highly recommend for anyone kicking off their creative journey!

Bestselling author, artist, and illustrator Lisa Congdon brings her expertise to this guide to the process of artistic self-discovery. Find Your Artistic Voice helps artists and creatives identify and nurture their own visual identity.

This one-of-a-kind book helps artists navigate the influence of creators they admire, while simultaneously appreciating the value of their personal journey.
- Features down-to-earth and encouraging advice from Congdon herself
- Filled with interviews with established artists, illustrators, and creatives
- Answers the question "how do I develop a unique artistic style?"

Draplin Design Co.: Pretty Much Everything

Aaron Draplin is one of my biggest inspirations in design and business. The sheer VOLUME of work he has created is all the encouragement you need to keep going, keep creating, and focus on being you!

Esquire. Ford Motors. Burton Snowboards. The Obama Administration. While all of these brands are vastly different, they share at least one thing in com-mon: a teeny, little bit of Aaron James Draplin. Draplin is one of the new school of influential graphic designers who combine the power of design, social media, entrepreneurship, and DIY aesthetic to create a successful business and way of life.

Pretty Much Everything is a mid-career survey of work, case studies, inspiration, road stories, lists, maps, how-tos, and advice. It includes examples of his work--posters, record covers, logos--and presents the process behind his design with projects like Field Notes and the "Things We Love" State Posters. Draplin also offers valuable advice and hilarious commentary that illustrates how much more goes into design than just what appears on the page. With Draplin's humor and pointed observations on the contemporary design scene, Draplin Design Co. is the complete package for the new generation of designers.

Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered

One of the hardest thing about turning your passion into your profession is confidently sharing your work. This book from Austin Kleon is all about sharing your work and is a must-read for all creatives!

In his New York Times bestseller Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon showed readers how to unlock their creativity by "stealing" from the community of other movers and shakers. Now, in an even more forward-thinking and necessary book, he shows how to take that critical next step on a creative journey--getting known.

Show Your Work is about why generosity trumps genius. It's about getting findable, about using the network instead of wasting time "networking." It's not self-promotion, it's self-discovery--let others into your process, then let them steal from you. Filled with illustrations, quotes, stories, and examples, Show Your Work offers ten transformative rules for being open, generous, brave, productive.

In chapters such as You Don't Have to Be a Genius; Share Something Small Every Day; and Stick Around, Kleon creates a user's manual for embracing the communal nature of creativity-- what he calls the "ecology of talent." From broader life lessons about work (you can't find your voice if you don't use it) to the etiquette of sharing--and the dangers of oversharing--to the practicalities of Internet life (build a good domain name; give credit when credit is due), it's an inspiring manifesto for succeeding as any kind of artist or entrepreneur in the digital age.

Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All

If you haven't already, you gotta watch David Kelley's Ted Talk, How to build your creative conference. And then come back and read this book! You KNOW I'm all about you building your confidence, so this book is very on-brand and highly-recommended from me!

IDEO founder and Stanford d.school creator David Kelley and his brother Tom Kelley, IDEO partner and the author of the bestselling The Art of Innovation, have written a powerful and compelling book on unleashing the creativity that lies within each and every one of us. Too often, companies and individuals assume that creativity and innovation are the domain of the creative types. But two of the leading experts in innovation, design, and creativity on the planet show us that each and every one of us is creative. In an incredibly entertaining and inspiring narrative that draws on countless stories from their work at IDEO, the Stanford d.school, and with many of the world's top companies, David and Tom Kelley identify the principles and strategies that will allow us to tap into our creative potential in our work lives, and in our personal lives, and allow us to innovate in terms of how we approach and solve problems. It is a book that will help each of us be more productive and successful in our lives and in our careers.

Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad

Being a creative isn't always easy. There are times where we want to give up and go in another direction. But your creativity is SO needed, and you've gotta keep going. This Austin Kleon book gives you amazing tips to stay creative in good times and bad!

Keep Working. Keep Playing. Keep Creating.In his previous books Steal Like an Artist and Show Your Work , both New York Times bestsellers, Austin Kleon gave readers the keys to unlock their creativity and showed them how to become known. Now he offers his most inspiring work yet, with ten simple rules for how to stay creative, focused, and true to yourself--for life.

The creative life is not a linear journey to a finish line, it's a loop--so find a daily routine, because today is the only day that matters. Disconnect from the world to connect with yourself--sometimes you just have to switch into airplane mode. Keep Going celebrates getting outdoors and taking a walk (as director Ingmar Bergman told his daughter, "The demons hate fresh air"). Pay attention, and especially pay attention to what you pay attention to. Worry less about getting things done, and more about the worth of what you're doing. Instead of focusing on making your mark, work to leave things better than you found them.

Keep Going and its timeless, practical, and ethical principles are for anyone trying to sustain a meaningful and productive life.

The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity

Implementing the morning pages from The Artist's Way in my life changed my whole creative process. The Artist's Way is a classic for a reason, so if you haven't read it and been through Julia Cameron's process, here's your sign!

Since its first publication, The Artist's Way phenomena has inspired the genius of Elizabeth Gilbert, Tim Ferriss, and millions of readers to embark on a creative journey and find a deeper connection to process and purpose. Julia Cameron's novel approach guides readers in uncovering problems areas and pressure points that may be restricting their creative flow and offers techniques to free up any areas where they might be stuck, opening up opportunities for self-growth and self-discovery. The program begins with Cameron's most vital tools for creative recovery - The Morning Pages, a daily writing ritual of three pages of stream-of-conscious, and The Artist Date, a dedicated block of time to nurture your inner artist. From there, she shares hundreds of exercises, activities, and prompts to help readers thoroughly explore each chapter. She also offers guidance on starting a "Creative Cluster" of fellow artists who will support you in your creative endeavors.

A revolutionary program for personal renewal, The Artist's Way will help get you back on track, rediscover your passions, and take the steps you need to change your life.

Don't Get a Job... Make a Job: How to Make It as a Creative Graduate

If you're studying or have just graduated, this book is for you! At design school, I never learnt about what to do after I graduated, and joining an agency seemed like the only option. But reading this book and hearing so many amazing stories made me realise that I could make my own job! So if you're thinking about what to do when you finish school, or want to see how others have built their careers, definitely pick this one up!

Don't Get a Job, Make a Job explores strategies for graduates to gain exposure in the creative industries - including design, fashion and advertising. Too often a design or architecture degree is seen as a means to an end (a job in an established practice). But imagine for one moment that there are no employers, no firms to send your CV to, no interviews to be had - what would you do? How would you forge your own path after graduation?

The current economic climate has seen many graduates chasing a finite number of positions. The most ingenious and driven designers have found weird and wonderful ways of making opportunities for themselves, often by applying their skills across the creative disciplines of art, design, architecture and interiors. Knowing what you want from your design career and being able to adapt your strategy to suit is basic and vital - just like in the wild, designers need to evolve.

The book celebrates the various strategies that students and graduates are taking to gain exposure, while also including interviews and inspirational advice from those who are now enjoying success as a result of their creative approach to employment.

Art, Inc.: The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist

Another from Lisa Congdon, this one covers the essentials for building a career as an artist! So if that's your goal, you've gotta read this baby!

You don't have to starve to be an artist. Build a career doing what you love. In this practical guide, professional artist Lisa Congdon reveals the many ways you can earn a living by making art--through illustration, licensing, fine art sales, print sales, teaching, and beyond. Including industry advice from such successful art-world pros as Nikki McClure, Mark Hearld, Paula Scher, and more, Art, Inc. will equip you with the tools--and the confidence--to turn your passion into a profitable business.

LEARN HOW TO: - Set actionable goals - Diversify your income - Manage your bookkeeping - Copyright your work - Promote with social media - Build a standout website - Exhibit with galleries - Sell and price your work - License your art - Acquire an agent - And much more

Oh Sh*t... What Now?

This is another for the students out there! I read this book a few years after I'd graduated and I WISHED I'd read it earlier because it had so many practical insights into life after university. If you're studying now, pick this one up and soak up all the goodness now!

So you've graduated. What now? Where do you live? Can you afford to live? How can you make money doing design? How do you get a job? Who do you want to work for and are you good enough? This book is a comprehensive and insightful guide to anything and everything that is of use to those looking to break into the creative industries, sharing experiences, ideas, advice, criticism, and encouragement. With sections covering education, portfolios, jobs/freelancing, working process, and personal development, this straight-talking, funny, and frequently irreverent guide is a must-read for all creative arts students.

So, those are my fav creative books that I recommend for every creative! I hope you love and learn from them as much as I did!

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Hollie stands resting her hands on the white desk behind her, wearing a black t-shirt tucked into orange pants and clear glasses, and smiling into the camera.

by hollie arnett

The brand coach for creatives, hand-lettering artist for herself, and cup of tea lover forever.

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