Top 10 Art Business Books for Artists in 2024

By Milan Art Institute on April 17, 2024
Top 10 Art Business Books for Artists in 2024

Becoming a professional artist can seem daunting when you realize it takes more than a passion for creating art. Along with tenacity, steadfast commitment, and courage, an art career requires practical tools, professional habits, and the proper perspective. Fortunately, we can access a wealth of wisdom to inspire, encourage, and guide us from passion to profession.

An invaluable way to expand your art education is through books for artists. Beyond how-to books about art techniques or step-by-step tutorials on various art styles, read books that help demystify creativity, provide practical ways to approach the creative process, or offer priceless information about becoming a professional artist.

Here are ten essential books every artist looking to launch an art business should read. These selections offer practical advice, but more importantly, they provide inspiration and fresh perspectives on pursuing your destiny as a professional artist.

1. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

All artists inevitably encounter barriers to creativity. We wake up and don’t feel like spending time in the studio. On a busy day with only a few minutes to paint, we feel like skipping it. While this is normal, it’s not professional.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is vital for artists ready to combat procrastination and embrace a professional work ethic. More than just something to read, this book is a wake-up call for artists and an essential manual for artists who find themselves at the mercy of self-doubt.

In this book, Pressfield tackles the internal barriers that block creative work and personifies the internal obstacles all artists face, naming them “Resistance.” He skillfully navigates through the psyche of an artist, offering an understanding of what holds us back and a battle plan to conquer this adversary.

The War of Art: Steven Pressfield | Rich Roll Podcast

2. Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield

In a compelling sequel to The War of Art, Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield explores the differences between the amateur and professional, outlining the mindset and sacrifices needed to make art a full-time career. It's about committing to your art with the seriousness of a professional.

3. Mastery by Robert Greene

As its title suggests, Mastery by Robert Greene is about achieving greatness. In this book, Greene examines the lives of great historical figures—including Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, and Leonardo da Vinci—and nine modern-day masters. Greene’s insights show that relentless practice, deep curiosity, and an unwavering commitment to one’s craft pave the path to greatness.

4. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Dr. Betty Edwards

Since its publication in 1979, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Dr. Betty Edwards has taught millions of people all over the world how to draw. This book is a classic for good reason—it dispels the myth that drawing is an inborn talent and teaches it as a learnable skill, empowering those who believe they “can't draw.”

Through innovative exercises and insightful theory, Dr. Edwards unlocks the potential in every individual to see the world through an artist's eye. This book is particularly useful for artists who want to improve their technical skills through practice and understanding.

5. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

In Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon presents ten principles for sparking creativity and innovation. Filled with illustrations, inspiration, and practical exercises for artists at any stage, it’s a fast-paced, immersive read.

This modern manifesto for creativity in the digital age encourages artists to embrace influence, remix ideas, and discover their own unique voice amidst the noise. It's a reminder that creativity is not about originality in isolation but about connecting and reimagining what already exists.

If you enjoy this book, check out Kleon’s subsequent books:

6. The Artisan Soul by Erwin Raphael McManus

Professional artist Casey Wakefield credits The Artisan Soul by Erwin Raphael McManus for freeing her from the guilt of dedicating time to creating art. After reading this book, Casey felt she finally had permission to be creative and to pursue her dream of becoming a professional artist. It helped her overcome the belief that spending time on creative pursuits is frivolous and encouraged her during her time in The Mastery Program.

Elli Milan, the founder of the Milan Art Institute, says that “creativity is in our DNA.” This book aligns with her statement as it explores the concept that creativity is an intrinsic aspect of being human, not just a quality bestowed upon a select number of people. Delving into the spiritual aspect of creativity, McManus proposes that every human is inherently an artist and every act a creative work of art.

This book invites artists to explore their inner world—their soul—as the ultimate canvas, urging them to create authentically and purposefully.

Watch Elli Milan and Casey Wakefield discuss this book and others in this post. You’ll find their conversation inspiring as they share how these books helped them overcome resistance and pursue their destiny as artists.

Professional artists Elli Milan and Casey Wakefield are also avid readers, discussing the best books for artists

7. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron offers a 12-week program to help artists recover from creative blocks, rediscover their passion for art, and reignite their productivity. Cameron’s seminal work is an intimate exploration of the self, offering tools like Morning Pages and Artist Dates that have become cornerstones in the lives of many artists.

8. A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink

The world is shifting into a more creative realm of thought. So claims Daniel Pink in A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. Pink argues that the future belongs to right-brain thinkers—artists, storytellers, and innovators. In an automated and outsourced world, the skills that set individuals apart are creativity, empathy, and big-picture thinking.

This book is a call to action for artists to use their creative abilities as a major asset in the contemporary world, emphasizing the value of right-brain thinking in the new economy. Artists can change the world!

9. Storyworthy by Matthew Dicks

Storytelling is as crucial to a painting as it is to a novel. Yet many artists struggle to embrace storytelling, believing their story isn’t interesting enough or they don’t know how to communicate it effectively.

In Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life through the Power of Storytelling, Matthew Dicks offers actionable advice to craft compelling narratives, enhancing the impact of your art. This book teaches you how to make every brushstroke, every color, every composition tell a story worth remembering.

10. Atomic Habits by James Clear

Atomic Habits by James Clear is another powerful book to help artists beat resistance. Clear's pragmatic approach to habit formation is a game-changer for artists struggling with consistency. By focusing on small, incremental changes, artists can revolutionize their practice, making creativity a daily habit that's hard to break.

This book is a helpful companion for setting smart goals for artists.

Honorable Mentions

This list of 10 art business books for artists covers a lot of ground, including practical skills, inspirational ideas, and empowering insight. But we recommend two more books, even though they’re not written specifically for artists.

Discipline is Destiny by Ryan Holiday

The message of Discipline is Destiny by Ryan Holiday complements The War of Art in overcoming resistance. Holiday's exploration of discipline as a cardinal virtue and a fundamental virtue for success is a potent reminder for artists of the power of consistency, dedication, and perseverance in pursuing their craft and achieving their goals.

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

Becoming a professional artist involves “putting yourself out there.” It can be scary because you feel vulnerable. In Daring Greatly, Brené Brown explores vulnerability as a source of strength and gives artists the courage to show up, be seen, and share their work with the world despite the fear of criticism or failure.

Read These Books to Become More Creative

These books are not just about mastering art techniques but about developing the mindset and habits needed to succeed in the art business. While they may not cover the specifics of how to launch an art business or how to craft an artist business plan, these art business books for artists provide invaluable insights, inspiration, and instruction crucial for turning your passion for art into your profession.

Have you read any of these books? What did you learn that was most helpful or inspiring as an aspiring professional artist?


Milan Art Institute
Milan Art Institute

Post a comment

Get latest articles directly in your inbox, stay up to date.