20 Books All Artists Should Have On Their Bookshelves To Jumpstart Their Creativity

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Long years ago, I used to harbor dreams of being a Real Artist someday. My aspirations ran nerdy; I wanted to be a manga-ka or a video game concept artist. After I tried art school, though, I realized it wasn't for me. More power to all the visual artists out there, and maybe my experience isn't the norm, but the hostile, overly-competitive, backbiting nature of my art studios made me want to crawl in a hole and die.

Today, my art is limited to wild-haired sketches and adult coloring books. But even if being an artist didn't pan out, that doesn't mean I can't still read like one. I love art books, and I think it's a shame that more creative types don't interact with each other. I've talked to (seriously misguided) artists before who swore to me that books couldn't possibly have anything valuable to say about art, presumably because words and pictures are two completely different things. While I certainly agree that there is a wide chasm between the innately talented and the merely educated — in any field! — the idea that artists have nothing to learn from reading is pretty ridiculous.

This is to say that, if you're not a visual artist — if you're an actor, a writer, or even an accountant — I still highly recommend you read the books on this list. Here are 20 of the best books for artists to own.

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