It’s not just about what you do with your time in the studio that matters.

The most successful artists know that how you spend your time outside of the studio shapes your career as well. Top performers in any field will attest to the importance that reading has on their life and CEO’s are often cited as reading more than one book a week.

If it works for those primarily in business, why shouldn’t it work for artists making a business out of their art as well?

We asked 9 artists what books were most influential to their career. Here is what they had to say:


The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle

by Steven Pressfield

Recommended by Annie Wildey  and Gillian Buckley

What you will get out of it:

“Whether you have a lot of time or a little, show up every day in spite of fear or resistance”

Annie Wildey

"This book helps you understand why sometimes we resist the work we need to do and are born to do.”

Gillian Buckley


Seeing Is Forgetting The Name of The Thing One Sees 

by Lawrence Weschler

Recommended by Caitlin McCollum and Julie Anderson

What you will get out of it: 

"Without a doubt, this has been the most influential book on my career. Robert Irwin is a fascinating conceptual artist whose thoughtfulness and intellect is only exceeded by his accessibility as a speaker. This book taught me about the process of art-making, and what's more, unlocked the part of my brain that thought about art — like finally becoming fluent in a language wherein everything starts making perfect sense with utmost ease all of the sudden. That's what this book did for me; it completed my education. Seeing is Forgetting is required reading for all serious artists.”  

Caitlin McCollum

"This biography gave me a new perspective on the level of patience and perseverance required to pursue a career as an artist. I was struck by how the time and place of his existence shaped who he is and the art he made. Every generation of artists has a new set of obstacles and circumstances to overcome, but it takes many years of persistence to look back and realize just how far you can go if you truly stick with it."

Julie Anderson


Steal like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative 

by Austin Kleon

Recommended by Martin Hyde and Gillian Buckley

What you will get out of it:

Steal Like an Artist is full of great advice about finding your own path in the art world by starting out on paths that have already been forged by those before you.”

Gillian Buckley


"Starving to Successful: The Fine Artist's Guide to Getting Into Galleries and Selling More Art"

by Jason Horejs

Recommended by Karen Whitworth

What you will get out of it:

Learning to see beyond my easel into how the art world operated was crucial. As a newcomer, it can feel quite overwhelming and difficult to navigate. But this book helped make sense of it all and gave me confidence as I was getting started.”  

Karen Whitworth


Lettres à un Jeune Poète (Letters to a Young Poet)

Rainer Maria Rilke

Recommended by Steve Spazuk

What you will get out of it: 

“This book helped convince me that I was on the right path.”

“Living and Sustaining a Creative Life: Essays by 40 Working Artists”

edited by Sharon Louden

Recommended by Melanie Reese

What you will get out of it:

“This book is a collection of forty short essays by working artists who talk about how they sustain their artistic practice. The artists vary from those who are very established to those who are still emerging, but the one thing they ALL have in common is how they sustain that practice –– they all work a stable job and create and maintain their practice in their “off” time.

It’s not that many of these artists can’t live off income from their art practice, but more about knowing that success in the art world comes in waves. They want to be prepared for the days when their practice might not be so lucrative and having a steady, supportive job can help keep financial pressure off their creative practice. This is an important lesson to understand for any artist –– aspiring, emerging, and established alike.”

Melanie Reese


“Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking"

by David Bayles

Recommended by Sawyer Rose

What you will get out of it:  

“This my go-to book for those days I'm fantasizing about chucking it all in exchange for job stability and a good benefits package.”

Sawyer Rose


Inside the Painter’s Studio

by Joe Fig

Recommended by Laura Guese

What you will get out of it:

I really loved Inside the Painter’s Studio as a book that has shaped my career. It includes a lot of inspiring advice from incredible painters. It’s interesting to see how extremely accomplished artists work in the studio and how they each became world famous artists.”

Laura Guese


Have a book that has inspired your art career? Let us know in the comments below.