The Top 5 Personal Development Books for Artists

Uncategorized Mar 02, 2020

It’s just a fact: the more you read, the more intelligent you become. Artists, of all people, need to be smart and resourceful if they want to achieve success in their career. That’s why I put together this list of self improvement books to help you expand your mind and learn to think bigger. And even if you aren’t looking to become a professional artist and you just love to create as a hobby, these books can still transform your life. I hope you find as much value in these incredible personal development books as I have. There’s no specific order to this list because all of these are some of the top self help books and offer insight into different aspects of being an artist:


The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

There are so many lessons to be gleaned from this rich and colorful book, but possibly the most important one is that you must always overcome Resistance. Resistance is the enemy of your destiny. It wants to prevent you from doing the work that you were created to do. It manifests in many different forms, whether that be checking your emails, watching T.V., movies, video games, apps on your phone, gossiping with a friend, the list goes on. I highly recommend you read this because it is one of the best books on creativity and will transform the way you think about creating and inspire you to quit letting the little things get in the way of making art.


Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

This book is incredibly practical. Kleon writes in an extremely straightforward manner, so much so, in fact, that you could finish the book in just 2 hours. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t full of gems. Steal Like an Artist is something that ALL artists need to read because it teaches you not to copy from one or two people, but rather to draw your inspiration from a multitude of different places. That is how true “authenticity” is born. If you want to learn how to become more original in your creations, I definitely recommend this book.


Leadership Strategies and Tactics: Field Manual by Jocko Willink

As an artist, you have a tremendous responsibility. You are called to be a leader for other artists and patrons alike. Art has evolved over the centuries through the passing down of information from generation to generation. We want art to continue to evolve and move forward and so as artists, we must learn how to lead. This is one of the best self improvement books; it gives clear directions on how to become a good leader and describes what a leader even is. Contrary to popular belief, anyone can learn to be a good leader and this book teaches you how to be one.


Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

Full of mystical anecdotes and advice, this book offers a really genuine perspective on creating art: you are not in control and you have to truly love it. Whatever you create, whether it’s paintings, music, poetry, or photography, you have to fall in love with the process and truly enjoy it. And you aren’t the source of your creations, Gilbert suggests. You are merely a vessel of divine creativity waiting to enter this realm and make manifest. And in order to truly receive inspiration, you have to show up and do your part by putting in the work. I would definitely recommend reading this book because artists have a tendency to become too attached to their work, as if it defines their identity and this book explains why that isn’t true.


Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

Now, this book may not seem applicable at first glance. But I assure you, it’s a must read. Taught from the perspective of Navy Seals, this book uses real life scenarios to demonstrate that you must always take full ownership of your actions, no matter the consequences. This book will make you a better owner of your time and your life. Not only that, but it will also make you a more enjoyable person to be around because you’ll learn that there is never a time to make excuses. Read this book and become set free.


All of these self development books are incredibly insightful and will help you become a better artist and a better person. If you would like to discuss any of these books or have read any of them already, we’d love to hear your thoughts on them! Head over to instagram and tag us in a post or comment on our latest post and let us know what you think! 

Jake Dunn

Professional Artist, Content Director at Milan Art Institute

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