Taking time out to reflect on the creative process is an important part of growing your practice. These books offer helpful insight about sojourning on the artistic path and will keep you inspired.
The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life
By Twyla Tharp
Sometimes being inspired is less about the mountaintop and more about the day-to-day. In her book (as seen in Photo 1), famed choreographer Tharp gives practical advice about an artist’s work ethic. Tharp quickly dismisses notions of artistic genius without putting in the hours. How to make the most of those hours—whether managing time in the studio or cultivating conversations with peers—is what Tharp is after, and what she has to say goes beyond mere self-help. The chapters are short, thoughtfully designed, and some contain exercises that help the material to sink in.
The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World
By Lewis Hyde
This instant classic (as seen in Photo 2) has been a must-read for artists since its first publication in 1979. Hyde writes in elegant prose and weaves a compelling argument for art as a selfless enterprise in an increasingly market-driven world. Touching on philosophy, economics, literary criticism, science, and a heavy dose of poetry (including two remarkable sections on Whitman and Pound), Hyde demonstrates how art finds its strength when it is seen as a gift.
By Patti Smith
There is nothing like a good artist’s biography to get you dreaming about the future. Smith doesn’t hold back in her poignant memoir of her friendship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe (as seen in Photo 3) and a before-they-were-stars account of New York in the late 1960s. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Allen Ginsberg, and the Chelsea Hotel are all there—and Smith gives readers the sense that they could be, too.
Interviews, Volume II
By Hans Ulrich Obrist
Obrist has interviewed everyone who is anyone in the world of ideas during the last quarter century. This latest volume (as seen in Photo 4) from the Swiss-born art curator is a whopping (but wonderful) 950 pages. Björk, Merce Cunningham, Alejandro Jodorowsky, and Miranda July (to name a few) embody a compelling range of generations, disciplines, and insights. Obrist’s style is as personal as it is academic, making this tome a great reference and a fun read.