Art Books 101

I am a sucker for a good book and, in my eyes, nothing beats a beautiful collection of books about things you love, whether that is astronomy or acrobatics, I really feel that each person’s book shelf tells a story about who they are. Today I thought I would share with you one of my favourite parts of my collection, the art books. They have been so well read & poured over and provide a constant source of inspiration for me not just creatively but generally in life too. Not all art books are just full of pretty pictures & I’m here today to show you that there is a whole lot more going on inside the covers of these books than you may imagine…

I have always liked a wide range of art & artists, and so I like to pull ideas from lots of different places… hence the ever growing collection. Two of my favourite artists are Grayson Perry, as you all already know, and photographer Petra Collins. Grayson Perry’s book ‘Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl’, which was written with friend Wendy Jones, tells the story of how Grayson came to be where he is today. His turbulent upbringing in Essex, his discovery of the art world and early experiments with transvestism make for a gripping and real portrayal of the artist we all thought we knew everything about. This is one of the most interesting, if not shocking, books that I have ever read and I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in people – art lover or not.
In contrast with Grayson’s biography is the almost solely visual collection of thought-provoking work by female artists, curated by Petra Collins, in ‘Babe’. This is a beautifully inspiring book that brings together the work of artists who are part of the online collective The Ardorous, set up by Collins. I have long loved Petra Collins dreamy, but real, photography and so when I saw this book I knew I had to have it. The art is centred around real ideas of female identity, growing up and the internet – alongside others – and is pulled together by a rainbow of pastel colours. Plus, the foreword is by Tavi Gevinson, founder of Rookie magazine and one of my all time heroes. What’s not to love?
A book, that in a way, combines the ideas of both of the above is Noel Fielding’s ‘The Scribblings of a Madcap Shambleton’, which tells the story of Noel’s adventures & success in the art world with a lot of crazy writings & a mass of his in your face art. It is a must read for any fans of Noel, with his beautifully individual style and mind. If you loved The Mighty Boosh, you will love this. It’s wacky, it’s crazy and it is pure genius. I love the bold & fun nature of Noel’s art and this masterpiece of a book really does it justice. Get your fill of crazy here!
Many of you will know that, alongside art, another love of mine is history and so when our friends gifted me the book ‘30,000 Years of Art: The Story of Human Creativity Across Time & Space’ I knew I was in for a treat. This book tracks over 600 pieces of art through the ages and shares many less typical artworks from around the globe. It is the sort of book you can delve into at any time and contains brilliant pictures and accompanying text from world renowned curators. It is the ultimate coffee table book and the sort of book that your really could pour over for hours on end and still have more to look at.

From the big & bright to the small and subtle, I am halfway through reading ‘Think Like an Artist: . . . and Lead a More Creative, Productive Life’ by the Arts Editor of the BBC, Will Gompertz. This small, unassuming book has so far been an eye opening read in which Gompertz shares his years of experience to teach you exactly what the title says. It is a book designed to inspire and bring creativity into everyday life – pure brilliance! If you feel like you are lacking motivation and need a reboot, especially if you have a creative mind, then this is 100% the book for you.
Last, but by no means least, is ‘The Picture Book: Contemporary Illustration’ by Angus Hyland. A tiny, thick book jam packed with the most interesting and exciting global illustration floating around at the moment. I have always been a huge fan of illustration, *controversial opinion alert* maybe even more so that traditional art. I love the accessibility of it and this book is a great for visual inspiration. What’s even better is that it is pocket sized so you can take it with you wherever you go. YES!

So, as you can see, there’s more to these books than just a few pretty pictures and as Christmas (sorry, I’m excited) fast approaches, I think we all know what you need to add to your list this year. To me they are all fun, insightful and inspiring books that have helped shape my opinions, art work and creative life. Do you have a prized book collection and what does it say about you?

Love Holly x

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