10 great books for artists and makers launching a creative business

If you can't imagine life without your creative passion, then you're probably looking at ways to turn that hobby into a career.

Image licensed via Adobe Stock

Image licensed via Adobe Stock

Whether you paint, sculpt, sew, weave or make – the following ten books come highly recommended and will provide excellent advice on launching a creative business in 2017.

1. Make it Now!: Creative Inspiration and the Art of Getting Things Done by Anthony Burrill

This life-affirming guide to new thinking, creative problem-solving and getting things done is courtesy of renowned graphic artist Anthony Burrill. Full of inspiration and ideas, his best-loved prints as well as new work, this book will get you thinking bigger and better and recharge your creativity.

2. The Art of Creative Thinking by Rod Judkins

The Art of Creative Thinking reveals how we can transform ourselves, our businesses and our society through a deeper understanding of human creativity. Rod Judkins, of the world-famous St Martin's College of Art, has studied successful creative thinkers from every walk of life, throughout history. Drawing on an extraordinary range of reference points – from the Dada Manifesto to Nobel Prize Winning economists, from Andy Warhol's studio to Einstein's desk – he distils a lifetime's expertise into a short, surprising book that will inspire you to think more confidently and creatively.

3. Show Your Work!: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Getting Discovered by Austin Kleon

In his New York Times bestseller Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon showed us how to unlock our creativity by stealing from the community of other movers and shakers. Now, in an even more forward-thinking and necessary book, he shows us 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.

4. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

When asked to talk to students at Broome Community College in upstate New York in the spring of 2011, Austin Kleon wrote a simple list of ten things he wished he'd heard when he was their age: 'Steal like an artist; Don't wait until you know who you are to start making things; Write the book you want to read; Use your hands; Side projects are important; Do good work and put it where people can see it; Geography is no longer our master; Be nice (the world is a small town.); Be boring (it's the only way to get work done.); and, Creativity is subtraction.'

After giving the speech, he posted the text and slides to his popular blog, where it quickly went viral. Now Kleon has expanded his original manifesto into an illustrated guide to the creative life for writers, artists, entrepreneurs, designers, photographers, musicians, and anyone attempting to make things – art, a career, a life – in the digital age. Brief, direct, and visually interactive, the book includes illustrative anecdotes and mini-exercise sections calling out practical actions readers can take to unleash their creative spirits.

5. The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp

What makes someone creative? How does someone face the empty page, the empty stage and make something where nothing existed before? Not just a dilemma for the artist, it is something everyone faces every day. What will I cook that isn't boring? How can I make that memo persuasive? What sales pitch will increase the order, get me the job, lock in that bonus? These too, are creative acts, and they all share a common need: proper preparation.

For Twyla Tharp, creativity is no mystery; it's the product of hard work and preparation, of knowing one's aims and one's subject, of learning from approaches taken in the past. It's a process undertaken every day. It's a habit. The Creative Habit is not merely a look inside the mind of a remarkable woman with remarkable skills. Still, a programmatic, inspiring, encouraging guide to help each of us achieve our fullest creative potential.

6. Art Inc. - The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist by Lisa Congdon

Artists who dream of turning their passion into a career need only the expert guidance in Art, Inc. Lisa Congdon unveils the multiplicity of ways to make a living from art, including illustration, licensing, fine art sales, print sales and teaching. She offers practical advice on cultivating a business mindset, selling and promoting work and more. Trade secrets from art world pros including such luminaries as Paula Scher, Nikki McClure and Mark Hearld make Art, Inc. the ultimate resource for aspiring artists ready for success.

7. The Artist's Guide to Selling Work by Annabelle Ruston

This best-selling guide provides all the advice you need to sell your work in today's competitive market. Including essential tips on how to make full use of digital opportunities for selling your work, such as social networking and e-marketing. With a foreword by Mary Ann Rogers, one of Britain's most acclaimed watercolour painters and awarded 'Best Selling Published Artist' by the Fine Art Trade Guild in 2009.

8. Art/Work - Everything You Need to Know (and Do) As You Pursue Your Art Career by Heather Darcy Bhandari and Jonathan Melber

The most comprehensive guide of its kind, Art/Work gives artists of every level the tools they need to make it in an art world so competitive one dealer likens it to "The Sopranos, except nobody gets killed." Whether you're an art school grad looking for a gallery, a mid-career artist managing a busy studio, or someone just thinking about becoming a professional artist, this indispensable resource will help you build your career and protect yourself along the way.

9. Make Your Mark: The Creative's Guide to Building a Business with Impact by Jocelyn K. Glei

Are you ready to "make a dent in the universe"? As a creative, you no longer have to take a backseat. Stepping up and embracing entrepreneurship is the fastest route to impact. But where do you start? And what sets the businesses that succeed apart?

To find out, we asked the bright minds behind companies like Google X, Warby Parker, Facebook, O’Reilly Media, and more to share their startup wisdom. Featuring hard-won wisdom from twenty leading entrepreneurs and designers, 99U’s Make Your Mark will arm you with practical insights for launching a purpose-driven business, refining your product, delighting your customers, inspiring your team—and ultimately—making something that matters.

10. Louder Than Words - Harness the Power of Your Authentic Voice by Todd Henry

There has never been a better time to build an audience around your idea or product. But with so many people and companies clamouring for attention, it's also more challenging than ever to do work that deeply resonates with the marketplace and creates a real and lasting impact. According to Todd Henry, the key to standing apart from the noise is to find your unique voice. Those who identify and develop their voices will gain more attention and wield more influence — an essential read.


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