• Allison

3 creative books every artist should read

Updated: Jul 9, 2019


I read a lot of non-fiction, especially in realm the self-discovery, habits, and psychology. And I LOVE reading books on creativity and the creative process. They are so fascinating! I wanted to share my top 3 picks for creative books that I think all creative folk should read.


1. The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharp. If you are a fan of ballet, then you probably know who Twyla Tharp is. When I lived in Seattle, I was a season ticket holder to the Pacific Northwest Ballet (thankfully they have discounts for people under 40). The music, the costumes, the mind-boggling combination of athleticism and grace, and the emotion of all those things combined on stage -- I absolutely love it (and I miss it!). Some of the most memorable and moving pieces I ever saw there were choreographed by Twyla Tharp, so when I saw she had a book on creativity, I checked it out from the library ASAP. This book is a wonderful set of suggestions from an incredible creator, and she has written it knowing that many non-dancers will pick it up for inspiration. While the anecdotes she uses are from her own creative career, the core nugget of wisdom behind each tidbit really applies to artists of every kind.


2. The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield. This book is probably more well known within creative communities. It’s a wonderful reminder that art and creativity are not easy, and you may spend a lot of time fighting with yourself to even sit down and start, let alone continue sitting down day after day. For me, this book was really validating, in that it acknowledges that all artists/creatives have many of the same struggles, but some choose push past them, while others succumb to the easier path of inactivity or avoidance. I also think the lessons within the pages apply to many aspects of life beyond creativity (like being a professional in general , so it’s really a great read for anyone.


3. Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, by Mason Currey. Not only did I learn a lot about a wide variety of famous artists, but it was absolutely fascinating to hear how *differently* people work. Some artists flourished only in isolation and utter silence, some needed to talk frequent walks, others could only work in the wee hours of the morning. In some cases, artists needed completely bizarre requirements to do their best creation, and I found this both entertaining and inspiring. It makes a strong case for some ‘know thy self’ soul-searching to understand your own best conditions for creativity. Do you need early morning? Can you work in small bursts or do you require 5 uninterrupted hours? Beyond the enjoyment of reading this book, it really made me think about what conditions *I* need to perform my best. Also, this book is written in nice, little, consumable bits, so it’s easy to pick up and put down, and good for a few minutes of reading before bed.


Do you have any favorite creative books that I didn’t mention here? Drop me a note on Instagram -- I’d love to put some more books on my reading list!


Behind The Scenes is a blog series that peeks into the creative process at Ocelli Creations. Everything from style inspiration, current projects, creative books, and technique tips are covered in these posts.


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