CreativeNYC’s List of Top 5 Most Useful Books for Artists

Artists are typically the trend setters and rule breakers. However, though the instinct is to deviate from the norm, mentorship and growth are vital for artists being recognized and building a platform.

Aside from cultivating my craft, my personal journey in the art world consisted of delving into other’s artwork, and surrounding myself with other artists. This is vital in order to get connected and thrive in community.

Since the market for art is fluid, constantly altering, and rather unstable, knowing how to present your art and make these connections become a skill in and of itself. To do that, I hit the books to learn how other artists are propelling themselves and their art forward. Here is my list of Top 5 Books to learn about pursuing art

1. The Profitable Artist by Artspire


This book teaches practical skills in learning how to designate value to your work. It aids in knowing what most artists typically know little of, that is the laws, copyrights, and regulations that surround selling artwork and building a business. It teaches very tangible ways to connect with audiences, and how to constantly expand that audience into a broader circle outside of just the people you meet (using social media). Most importantly (for someone like me) it poses inventive ways to fund your art and thinking of how to (as the title suggests) be profitable from your art.




2. Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon


This near pocket-sized book unpacks the near impossible process of getting your work noticed in 10 concrete and sensible steps. The author speaks with a cheeky tone (one that I truly appreciated) to move through the tendencies and habits needed to being discovered and connecting with the people who will be vital to your journey. What Kleon emphasizes throughout the whole book is that the power to have your work discovered is in YOUR hands; that the ability must be self initiated and self-promotion is game changing when done correctly.


3. ART/WORK by Heather Darcy Bhandari


Authors Heather Darcy Bhandari, an art gallery director, and Jonathan Melber, an art lawyer, takes the reader through the hairy details of sponsorship, representation, and legalities in a simplified manner. This book is an outstanding tool in understanding exactly what details are required of artists to make a business out of their art. The authors share their own experiences, but also interview a wide spectrum of artists and curators to provide a vast and all-encompassing tool based off of experience and the current reality of the art-world.



4. Living and Sustaining a Creative Life Edited by Sharon Louden



This book is very different from the rest. Rather than instruction and steps, this book takes literary essays written by different types of artists to create a mosaic of stories. Each individual story shares the artist’s journey of expanding their art and becoming known. You hear from artists both hugely successfully, as well as tapping into the currents of the underground art realm. The stories share both small, intimate details of the artist’s process as well as those who share secrets and tips due to their own shortcomings and trails. Rather than reading front to back, this book is better read sporadically in fragments for jolts of inspiration along the way.


5. Art, Inc. by Lisa Congdon



This captivating book allows the reader to unpack “success” through their own unique standards rather than those set in the world. Additionally, it deconstructs the idea of the “starving artist” and challenges the reader to obliterate this idea entirely. It is a necessary tool for emerging artists to acquire the proper mentality in basing a career off of their artwork. It asks that the artist reading think in an innovative manner to share their work and push limits, paralleling the way in which they succeed to the art itself. This idea that the practical can also be creative is vital in breaking out of one’s comfort zone.


2 thoughts on “CreativeNYC’s List of Top 5 Most Useful Books for Artists

  1. There is another great book for artists to look at that is recently revised (2016 update) with a chapter on social media; something the other books don’t offer. It is: “Starting Your Career as an Artist” by Angie Wojak and Stacy Miller, Allworth Press. A great read and very useful interviews featuring: Jerry Saltz, Tim Gunn, Guerrilla Girls and many more excellent artists, gallerists, curators, designers, educators, grants writers, financial experts, arts lawyers and career advisors. It covers everything an artists needs to know in order to forge their own path in the art world today. SMM

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your feedback! I have not read that one yet, but it will be next on my list. The ones I shared are the ones I have went through over the past 2 or 3 years but I know there are tons more I haven’t gotten to yet. I appreciate the recommendation and I will look into that soon! Thanks for reading


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