We all love to read about creativity, fill our homes with beautiful giant books with art photos, patterns, and photography in them. These books are as beautiful as they are educational. But living a creative life as an artist begs for more depth and inner exploration, it needs us to arrange our lifestyles, our habits, our weekends to lend themselves to supporting our creativity.
We all have heard the stories of the disheveled, always late, not dependable, reclusive artist who creates hauntingly beautiful work. But what if we want to have a family, a clean house, go to game night every Friday night and create beautiful work in a timely manner?
That’s what we’re here for. Living a creative lifestyle sometimes leans more towards meeting deadlines than it does throwing paint around. And we mean this in the BEST way. Living a creative lifestyle is all about being a well rounded, happy human + artist.
One way we have developed this lifestyle is through reading. We both love to read and learn. We have rounded up our favorite non-traditional books that will help grow your creativity by impacting your life. Browse our lists and add a few to your bookshelf, then tell us your favorites in the comments!
The Four Tendencies: This pairs with the first book on the list, it dives much deeper into your personality type and how you can leverage it to create sustainable habits. I’m an obliger which is the ENTIRE reason Get Messy got started. Caylee and I wanted accountability to create and share our art journal pages each week. Learning more about your own motivations can literally change your life.
The Happiness Project: This is the last of our Gretchen Rubin books. I loved her year-long experiment in finding more happiness. Experimenting is a huge part of being an artist and the more you experiment in your life the more ideas you have for your art.
Better Than Before: Having healthy habits is important for all aspects of our life, but especially for creatives. This book helped me, more than possibly any other book, when it came to setting sustainable habits that lead to more time and energy for creating.
The Artisan Soul: This book by Mosaic Pastor is a beautiful look into how God created us to be creative and that our service to this world is our creativity. Exploring our spirituality can be a great inspiration for our art
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: I have more art supplies than an army of artists could use. Ditto that with my closet, my take out menus, my books, nick nacks and throw pillows. Clearing space in our homes and minds allows our creativity to stretch out and play.
Finish: Serial project starter here! I love Jon Acuff’s wisdom and tricks for helping to finish things we start.
Essentialism: This book can be polarizing but also life changing if you are ready for it. Choosing the things that are absolutely essential means we do fewer things but do them better. Maybe you need to clear out some things to focus on your art?
Cookbooks: Life is just a giant experiment, you guys! And why shouldn’t that be true in the kitchen? Eating new, delicious food is a spiritual act for me, so cooking it is the highest form of creativity I can find. I tend to jump on board with new eating trends and try a lot of things, it’s not because I really care that much about weight or health, it’s because I love a new challenge and to experiment. I love cookbooks like Whole 30 or Keto but also more creative ones like Korean Food Made Easy.
For The Love: Creating art is just as unique as our own approach to life. Jen Hatmaker sums up my life in this book. Her take on community, church, and humor are wildly inspiring to me and I created an entire art journal surrounding it. See it here.
Quiet: Ever wonder why you need so much time alone and your partner wants to talk to every person in the store? Quiet is a great study in how introverts and ambiverts function and how they need to be refilled to interact with the world. If your art is your outlet this could explain why or if you are struggling to create. Maybe you can take some tips from this to help find the right amount of social and creating time you personally need.
Curated Closet: Another perfect example of life being an experiment. I range from wanting to wear ALL THE COLORS to wanting to wear a uniform every day for the rest of my life. It all goes back to style, life stage, and mostly decision fatigue. If you want to hone in on your own clothing style this book is a good one for that. It’s very methodical and has great homework if you like that.
Am I There Yet?: Can anyone blend life + art better than Mari Andrews? I learn so much of how to view the world through her essays and drawings. Her work inspires me to make art out of my own true life every day.
Scary Close: Relationships are what make the world go round. From romantic to work to neighbors. Don Miller is a favorite of mine and this book about relationships was a big one for my husband and I to read together. Relationships have a HUGE effect on our art, why not learn more about them?
Chuck Palahniuk: My all-time favourite author for a creative well filling is Chuck Palahniuk. He is an artist with his words. He doesn’t just describe what’s happening, he uses interpretive dance… through words… His books are written unlike anything else I’ve ever read and they always take me out of my comfort zone. His books are deeply unsettling, so they’re not for everyone, but my top recommendations are Fight Club (which reads just like the movie), Rant, and Choke. I created an art journal page from one of my favourite quotes from him (and from anyone else either).
Steven Pressfield: My favourite type of books to read are non-fiction. I love learning, and it always encourages me to create art even if I’m not learning art skills. I love productivity books and business tales. Steven Pressfield is a favourite author of mine and these are my top three for him:
I created an entire journal based on his book called Do the Work: Overcome Resistance and Get Out of Your Own Way. You might spot some pen marks in his book. I don’t believe that books are precious and I love adding my own marks, and notes. Doing this, and re-reading books that have my scribbles in, makes me feel like an artist.
Well designed books
I love graphic design and typography, and so I cannot say no to a well-designed book. I have books that I haven’t read but have just paged through, and taken in. Books on subjects that would never interest me can inspire a thought or an idea because of how the designer has decided to lay them out.
Book designs and layouts that have led to art are:
The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion by #the100dayproject founder Elle Luna, which is as a bonus also directly about creativity.
Wanderful, which I discovered in Lauren’s stash, and completely fell in love with even though I wasn’t interested in the topic at all. Then there is the world’s best cover that reads like an e e cummings poem: first, we make the beast beautiful.
There you have it. Our favorite non-traditional books that help us be better artists, create more and live a life that inspires our art. What book is your favorite that doesn’t necessarily count as an art or creativity book? Share with us in the comments, we’re always looking for new books to add to our bookshelves.