10 Art Books That Will Nourish Your Creative Soul This Month

Creative Books

Stock Photos from PHOTOGRAPHER/Shutterstock
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Heading back to school means that you’ll probably be getting a new collection of books to add to your personal library. But even if you’ve long since graduated, you can plan your own independent study by selecting creative books. From photography to art to entrepreneurism, these texts are sure to inspire you.

New books are released every week, so it can be hard to keep track of all the great things you could be learning. We're here to make your search easier by sharing our selection of publications that will spark your creativity. Many of them feature the work of incredible photographers, such as Phil Penman who has spent over two decades documenting the big and small moments on New York City streets.

Commercial artists, we've found books for you, too. Learn how logos changed over the course of 40 years with the impressive Logo Modernism by Jens Müller, or get started on your journey to becoming an illustrator with the advice of Lisa Congdon and her book Find Your Artistic Voice.

Scroll down for the rest of our suggestions. And if you have a Kindle device, you’re in luck—many of these publications are available through the e-reader, too. Through Kindle Unlimited, you have access to unlimited reading of over a million ebooks that can be read on any device.

Create your own independent study when you read our picks of creative books for August 2019.


Creative Books

Street: Photographs by Phil Penman

For over 20 years, photographer Phil Penman has pounded the pavement and documented the hustle and bustle of the New York City streets. This book shares the big and small moments he captured along with Penman’s personal anecdotes on his images.


Creative Books

Create: Tools from Seriously Talented People to Unleash Your Creative Life by Marc Silber

The book Create shares conversations from some of the world’s top creatives, from photographers to Grammy award winners to CEOs. In reading these compelling chats, you'll learn how to draw inspiration from your surroundings, collaborate, master visualization techniques, and more.



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Find Your Artistic Voice: The Essential Guide to Working Your Creative Magic by Lisa Congdon

Lisa Congdon is a bestselling author and prolific illustrator. In Finding Your Artistic Voice, she offers her own expertise as well as interviews with artists, illustrators, and other creative people. You’ll finish the book with an understanding of how to establish your own artistic identity, push through your fears, and appreciate the journey.



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Am I Overthinking This?: Over-answering life's questions in 101 charts by Michelle Rial

Do you find yourself asking, “How do I achieve work-life balance?” or even “Do I have too many plants?” Michelle Rial offers her perspective on dilemmas big and small in a playful way. The charts, based on her popular Instagram account, offer “solidarity for the stressed”—all with a laugh.


Art Books
1000 Record Covers by Michael Orchs

Record covers are a way for us to document our culture. Like the music they hold, their designs address ideas of love, fashion, rebellion, and beyond. In 1000 Records, these compelling covers get the recognition they deserve. This edition shows the evolution of rock albums from the 1960s to the 1990s.


Best Art Books
Warhol on Basquiat: The Iconic Relationship Told in Andy Warhol’s Words and Pictures by Michael Dayton Hermann and Reuel Golden

Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat forged a personal and professional relationship that married two different artistic scenes. During their time spent together, Warhol photographed and wrote about their friendship in the 1980s downtown New York City. Warhol on Basquiat shares previously unpublished photographs and includes entries from the Andy Warhol Diaries as well as other ephemera to offer a glimpse into the lives of the two art world stars.



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Logo Modernism by Jens Müller

Author Jens Müller compiled 6,000 trademarks from the period of 1940 to 1980 and uses them as a way to examine how “modernist attitudes and imperatives gave birth to corporate identity.” The logos presented are from retailers, art galleries, media, and beyond. Within this broad scope, they are organized in three chapters—Geometric, Effect, and Typographic—and then divided from there.


Best Art Books
Drawing the Head for Artists: Techniques for Mastering Expressive Portraiture by Oliver Sin

Have you ever wanted to get better at drawing portraits? Artist and long-time instructor Oliver Sin will lead you through his approach, step by step, for how to capture expression and likeness in your subject. It’s a great resource for learning the essentials of drawing.



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Stephen Wilkes. Day to Night by Lyle Rexer

Photographer Stephen Wilkes really gets to know a location; he shoots over 1,500 exposures from a fixed angle. After those images are captured, he then sifts through all the frames and compiles a fraction of them into a single day. Day to Night shows 60 of these panoramas created between 2009 and 2019 that depict locales from around the world. Within each image are abbreviated stories from that place and day.



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Treasured Lands: A Photographic Odyssey Through America's National Parks, Second Expanded Edition by QT Luong

Take a journey through the U.S. National Parks with the help of QT Luong. The photographer pays tribute to millions of acres of protected wilderness and heritage in all of the country’s 61 national parks. Luong shares his large-format photographs, many of which include remote views that are rarely seen. In addition to the pictures, the book has maps of each park—perfect for planning a trip to one or more of these incredible places.


Related Articles:

10 Drawing Books That’ll Teach You Everything You Need to Know About Sketching

20 Books Every Artist Needs on Their Bookshelf

8 Essential Art History Books for Beginners

10 Inspiring Children’s Books for Budding Little Artists

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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