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As we dive into this season of growth and renewal, Erin Dollar is back to offer her picks for 2019’s best art books, self-help workbooks, and creative business guides. These new titles are excellent additions to your Spring reading list, with colorful inspiration to fuel your creative career.

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Chromatopia: An Illustrated History of Color by David Coles

Paintmaker David Coles, of the independent art materials manufacturer Langridge in Australia, has unique expertise when it comes to pigments and color. This book features the stories of notable colors, accompanied by stunningly vibrant photographs of the pigments detailed within.

Colors of note include Tyrian Purple, one ounce of which is created by squeezing a single drop of colorful dye from 250,000 Bolinus brandaris sea snails. Or the mystifying Vantablack, a lab-created black pigment that absorbs 99.96% of visible light. Part art-historical guide, part chemistry lesson, and part visual inspiration, Chromatopia is a beautiful coffee table book that sparks the imagination.

Mind Your Business: A Workbook to Grow Your Creative Passion Into a Full-time Gig by Ilana Griffo

This workbook is an excellent tool for creatives who are looking to build their hobby or side-hustle into a full-time career. Covering topics like drafting a business plan, finding your entrepreneurial strengths and weaknesses, building a brand, creating a marketing plan, goal setting, and more.

 Mind Your Business takes a lighthearted approach to creating a framework for a new business. It’s not as dense as a NOLO legal textbook, but it’s more than just a collection of fluffy inspirational quotes. The resources section at the end of the book offers more opportunities for learning and discovery. Actionable steps in each chapter make the process of building a business less scary – perfect for a maker who feels too overwhelmed to get started.

Belong: Find Your People, Create Community, and Live a More Connected Life by Radha Agrawal

Loneliness can be a struggle for creative entrepreneurs, especially those who may not live in a big city. While not written with artists or entrepreneurs strictly in mind, Agrawal’s book struck me as a helpful guide to building a supportive community as a freelancer or solo-entrepreneur.

Agrawal’s guidebook encourages self-discovery as the first step of building community: understanding who you are and why we all need connection. Even for the most extroverted artist, this book holds thoughtful ideas for how to build a community around your core values. From finding peers IRL, to curbing destructive gossip, Agrawal draws upon her experience as a “community architect” to share strategies that build positive, uplifting environments that nurture connection.

Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad by Austin Kleon

Kleon, author of the wildly successful Steal Like an Artist, has a new title debuting on April 2, this time, focusing on issues around creative block and . Kleon’s manifestos about making art are like The War of Art for a digital age, sharing how to create a daily practice that helps creatives weather the storms of failures, successes, and “the chaos of the outside world.”

Covering topics like creating a routine, building a sacred space for making, taking breaks, and avoiding distractions, Keep Going offers perspectives and quotes from contemporary and historical artists about how to build a sustainable creative life. One quote in the book from David Shrigley offers a great glimpse into the type of messages you’ll get from this guide: “The simple thing I’ve learned over the years is just to have a starting point. Once you have a starting point, the work seems to make itself.”

How to Not Always Be Working: A Toolkit for Creativity and Radical Self-Care by Marlee Grace

Creative business owners who grew their business from a hobby will often find the boundaries of their work and life blurred. This book offers tips for creating space for rest and self-care, and what to do when your work and free time blend together and become an unmanageable mess.

Grace, who shares details about her own self-care and sobriety journey on Instagram, offers a spiritual perspective in how to create a sustainable approach to your work. This book offers the opportunity to define your work and why it matters, giving a framework for your career.

Are you reading anything inspiring right now? Tag @craftindustryalliance on Instagram (and me, too — I’m @cottonandflax), to show us what you’re reading!

Erin Dollar is an artist, surface pattern designer, and founder of Cotton & Flax, a collection of boldly patterned textile home decor that is designed and manufactured in California. Her work has been sold in 100+ retail shops, from indie boutiques, to large mass-market retailers like West Elm, CB2, and Need Supply. By growing her ecommerce business to accommodate wholesale buyers, she has built a sustainable business that generates income year-round, and built a platform for long-term growth. See her webinar, Wholesale for Craft Business, in our archives.

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