10 Books Every Artist Professional Should Read


In the ever-evolving world of art and design, staying inspired and informed is crucial for every professional. Whether you're a photographer, a designer, or a creator dabbling in various mediums, enriching your knowledge and perspective is key to pushing the boundaries of your creativity. Here are ten essential reads that promise to inspire, educate, and guide you through your artistic journey.

10 Books Every Artist Professional Should Read

1. "Ways of Seeing" by John Berger

John Berger's "Ways of Seeing" is a seminal text that revolutionized how we understand visual culture. Derived from a television series, this book challenges traditional perspectives of art and its social implications.

Key Takeaways:

  • The importance of seeing and understanding the context behind images.
  • Insight into the historical treatment of women in art.
  • A critique of consumerism in visual culture.

2. "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson

For photographers aiming to master the technical aspects of their craft, Bryan Peterson's "Understanding Exposure" is indispensable. This book breaks down complex concepts of exposure into digestible parts, making it accessible for photographers at any level.

Key Takeaways:

  • Fundamental principles of exposure, including aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.
  • How to creatively use exposure to enhance your photography.
  • Tips for troubleshooting common exposure problems.

3. "Graphic Design: The New Basics" by Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips

Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips have crafted a modern staple for designers with "Graphic Design: The New Basics". This book redefines the essential elements of visual design, making it a must-read for emerging and established designers alike.

Key Takeaways:

  • A fresh perspective on design fundamentals, from typography to visual hierarchy.
  • Projects and exercises to apply theoretical knowledge practically.
  • A comprehensive overview of digital design techniques.

4. "Steal Like an Artist" by Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon's "Steal Like an Artist" offers a refreshing take on creativity and inspiration. It's a concise, visually engaging book that demystifies the creative process for artists of all disciplines.

Key Takeaways:

  • The idea that all creative work builds on what came before.
  • Practical advice for fostering creativity and originality.
  • Strategies for building a productive artistic routine.

5. "The Photographer's Eye" by Michael Freeman

Michael Freeman's "The Photographer's Eye" delves into the art of composing images. It's an essential guide for photographers looking to enhance their visual storytelling skills.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understanding composition and the design elements within photography.
  • Techniques for improving visual intuition and creating compelling photographs.
  • The role of light and color in photographic composition.

6. "Just My Type" by Simon Garfield

Simon Garfield's "Just My Type" explores the fascinating world of typography. It's an engaging read for designers and anyone curious about the history and significance of fonts.

Key Takeaways:

  • Anecdotes and histories of famous fonts and their creators.
  • The impact of typography on society and culture.
  • Insights into choosing and using types effectively in design.

7. "The Art Spirit" by Robert Henri

Robert Henri's "The Art Spirit" compiles the beliefs, philosophies, and teachings of the renowned artist. It's a timeless guide that encourages artists to pursue authenticity and expressiveness in their work.

Key Takeaways:

  • Inspiration for developing a personal artistic vision.
  • The importance of passion and dedication in the creative process.
  • Henri's reflections on the nature of beauty and art.

8. "Color and Light" by James Gurney

In "Color and Light", James Gurney, renowned for his Dinotopia series, offers a comprehensive guide on how to render light and color. This book is invaluable for artists wanting to elevate their work with realistic lighting and vibrant colors.

Key Takeaways:

  • Practical techniques for depicting various lighting conditions.
  • The science of color and light in painting.
  • Examples from Gurney's own works and classical paintings.

9. "Logo Design Love" by David Airey

For designers specializing in branding, "Logo Design Love" by David Airey is a treasure trove of insights. Airey shares his process for creating memorable logos, making it a practical guide for both aspiring and experienced designers.

Key Takeaways:

  • Steps for developing effective and lasting logos.
  • Case studies from Airey’s own portfolio.
  • Tips for working with clients and navigating the design industry.

10. "Show Your Work!" by Austin Kleon

Another gem by Austin Kleon, "Show Your Work!" is about sharing creativity and getting discovered. It’s a motivational guide for artists hesitant to share their work, offering advice on building an audience and embracing the digital age.

Key Takeaways:

  • The benefits of sharing your creative process.
  • How to deal with feedback and criticism.
  • Strategies for using social media to showcase your art.


These ten books offer a wealth of knowledge, inspiration, and practical advice for artists and designers across all disciplines. Whether you’re looking to refine your technique, explore new perspectives, or simply find encouragement, each book presents valuable insights to foster your growth as a creative professional.


Q: Are these books suitable for beginners? A: Absolutely! These books cater to a wide range of skill levels, from beginners looking to grasp the basics to experienced professionals seeking deeper insights.

Q: Where can I find these books? A: Most of these books are available at your local bookstore, online retailers, or as digital versions for e-readers.

Q: How can I apply the lessons from these books? A: Implement the practical tips and exercises into your daily practice, reflect on the theoretical insights to broaden your understanding, and don't be afraid to experiment with new techniques and ideas inspired by these reads.

An online portfolio made for Creatives

With all the tools a professional needs

  • Dynamic Grid
  • Even Rows
  • Golden Ratio
  • Square Ratio
  • Align Center
  • Puzzle
  • Random
  • Horizontal
  • Horizontal 2
  • Horizontal 3
  • Vertical
  • Two-One
  • Three-One

Get started for free

Create your online portfolio website now

Build your own portfolio
For a limited time only, get an automatic 20% discount on all plans. Upgrade Now! ×