I’m excited to return as the Craft Industry Alliance resident librarian, offering my picks for 2018’s best art books, creative business titles, and self-help books. For artists and creatives, summer vacation often means a tote bag filled with craft books, and I’ve found some excellent additions to your summer reading list. Here’s my list of this season’s must read books for artists:
The Magic of Tiny Business by Sharon Rowe – Business books these days seem to be disproportionately focused on growing a startup-model business. With topics like growing exponentially under a lean budget, and how to become the next Silicon Valley unicorn, I often feel like publishers miss the fact that many solo-entrepreneurs aren’t looking for explosive growth — in fact, growing too quickly could be the fast track to burnout. This book isn’t strictly for creatives, but I think the message of building a purposeful career will resonate with many makers. Rowe is the founder of Eco Bags, a certified B-corp that focuses on sustainability as one of their core business values. The lessons she shares from her own journey as an entrepreneur feel accessible and inspiring, without adding pressure to become “the next big thing.” A great business read for makers looking to grow their business in a thoughtful way.
Palette Perfect by Lauren Wager – Marketed as a color theory book for artists and designers, I found this book to be endlessly inspiring for my own creative projects. Using beautiful photographs and artworks, each chapter explores how color can evoke feelings and a sense of place. Written by the designer behind Color Collective, a blog that studies our emotional connections with different hues, this book offers collections of color palettes to inspire your own work. My favorite element of this book was actually embedded in the cover: unfold the front flap of the cover to reveal a cut-out palette viewfinder, that allows you to isolate colors for optimal viewing.
Styling for Instagram by Leela Cyd – Instagram continues to be a popular tool among artists to share their creative work online. Cyd’s style guide for Instagram is another helpful tool for makers who want to hone their photography skills in service of promoting their work on social media. Featuring expert tips from Cyd’s career as a professional photographer for clients like Kinfolk, Sweet Paul Magazine, and Conde Nast Traveler, each chapter offers new perspective on how to create eye-catching photographs that inspire.
Being Boss by Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon – Creators of the popular Being Boss podcast, as well as an online resource guide for creative business owners, Thompson and Shannon have built a colorful, interactive self-help guidebook for entrepreneurs who are ready to grow into a higher level of their business. This is a niche business book in the style of Sophia Amoruso’s Girlboss, and while I don’t always gravitate towards these types of pink and purple self-help titles, I did find their workbook a useful tool for examining my own mindset around finances, and their reflections on cultivating confidence were compelling. Their lists around how to promote feelings of energy in your work life were also illuminating.
Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferriss – Featuring interviews with 130+ influential and insightful creators and high-level experts like Neil Gaiman, Aisha Tyler, and Maria Sharapova, this hefty tome is filled with advice for how to achieve the extraordinary. Ferriss asks the same 11 questions of every interviewee, like, “How has a failure set you up for later success?” or, “What is the best or most worthwhile investment you’ve ever made?” Another question Ferriss asks is, “If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say, and why?” Brene Brown’s answer was inspiring: “‘Courage over comfort.’ Just a simple reminder that there’s nothing comfortable about being courageous. Everyone wants to be brave, but no one wants to be vulnerable.” The answers are varied; sometimes mundane, but often thought-provoking and inspiring.
Bonus shorter-format reading
Good Company – The Community Issue (Issue 1) – Grace Bonney’s new publication features stories from a diverse group of creatives.
Where Women Create – the June/July ‘18 issue features interviews and studio tours with talented artists and makers like macrame artist Emily Katz, ceramicist Demitria Chappo, and hatmaker Teressa Foglia.
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.