7 Books Every Art Student Must Read

7 Books Every Art Student Must Read
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For a lot of people, the notion of studying art doesn't always fit the subjective nature of what the wider world of art inspires. How can you learn something in a book for which all of the world's masters are celebrated for their originality and groundbreaking talents? Of course, this is true, but in order to become a great artist, there is a genuine belief that you should be as educated and widely read on the subject that you love as possible.

Just as a cinephile should seek to educate themselves by watching as many films as possible, or a bibliophile with digesting as much fiction and nonfiction, so should a budding artist make an effort to become knowledgeable in their own field.

With that in mind, here is a list of some of the books that every art student should read:

The Accidental Creative: How To Be Brilliant At A Moment's Notice by Todd Henry

This is a book that has a strong focus on making sure that you are able to be creative every single day. It teaches that creative thinking is something that every mind is gifted with; it is up to the individual to do the work to unlock it. Once that creativity is unlocked, your possibilities in the world of art can be limitless.

Make Good Art by Neil Gaiman

A name that many people will be familiar with, but perhaps a book that you won't have picked up before. Make Good Art is the transcribed text of a speech that Neil Gaiman gave in 2010, and it is filled to the brim with quotable mantras and positive energy about the journey any artist must go on to realize their full potential. It encourages art students to remember to chart their own course in their careers and influences, even if they are undertaking a standardized art education to start with.

Leonardo da Vinci: Complete Paintings and Drawings by Frank Zollner

No self-respecting art student can go through their formative years without diving into art history and da Vinci. Considered by many to be history's greatest artist, there is no getting away from the fact that da Vinci has influenced and impacted upon probably every single artist in some way. Frank Zollner's compilation and writings on da Vinci's work is a tremendous all-encompassing volume that gives you hugely valuable insight. This book is an excellent source for your art analysis papers on da Vinci's work. And if you are not too confident about your writing skills, you can get help at

The Icarus Description: How High Will You Fly? By Seth Godin

This is a book that can help a student to see that all types of work can be interpreted as art. It is an insightful, inspiring, and practical read that can be extremely helpful to aspiring artists whose careers are perhaps not following the exact trajectory that they had imagined. It teaches that there is a struggle in work, but that great rewards can be found in that struggle.

A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future by Dan Pink

There has long been a belief that the side of your brain that is most dominant carries with a number of defining personality traits, one of which being an 'artistic side.' In this book, Dan Pink plays with these ideas and presents an outline that shares all the skills that you should be looking to attain to become a fully rounded person and leader. This can then be applied to your aspirations as an artist to help you become a more assertive person.

Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon

It is a short but important read that gives lots of practical advice about not getting too caught up in the search for complete and total originality in your work. For most artists, the creative process is not about sitting at a blank canvas and producing something that has never been seen in any element before. It is rather about drawing from various influences to make your own style. This is why an art education to appreciate the past is so crucial to forming the future.

The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics Of Contemporary Art by Don Thompson

It is an incredibly interesting and potentially perspective-changing book that explores the various reasons why some works of art sell for millions while others go completely unheralded, regardless of the levels of talent on display. Something that artists learn very quickly is the level of talent doesn't equate to the level of success, whilst simultaneously having to reckon that 'level of talent' is an entirely subjective notion, to begin with. This is an essential read that breaks down some of the economics of the art world of use to anyone who wants to make a living as an artist.  

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