7 Best Books for Art Majors

Ginger Abbot

Mar 9, 2022

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It’s easy for students to become complacent in college, regardless of what they’re studying. And, while some pupils can get away with being lazy — think business majors and young prodigies —  it’s absolutely essential that art majors commit to their education and keep learning. After all, it’s often the new, challenging and interesting that spur creativity and passion. Luckily, there are plenty of good books for art majors out there that can inform, guide and inspire. 

1. Art & Fear

Every artist goes through ups and downs but when you’re just starting out, it might feel as if you’re the only one struggling. Art & Fear reminds readers that they aren’t alone in this struggle to create and produce art. More importantly, it arms artists with practical guidance so they don’t give up, even when it’s difficult to put pen — or brush — to paper. In these instances, the authors recommend building an artist community and viewing art as work to effectively maintain motivation and consistency. 

2. The Art Spirit 

If you’d rather read first-hand accounts of one man’s triumphs and tribulations, pick up a copy of The Art Spirit by Robert Henri. Compiled by his one-time pupil Margery Ryerson, this book is a compilation of Robert’s wisdom and musings as an American painter and educator in the early 20th century. His nuanced creative philosophy is evident throughout the volume and reminds young creators that even artists of old struggled with what it means to create, influence and leave a meaningful legacy.

3. Catching the Big Fish 

Art majors who also dabble in meditation will thoroughly enjoy David Lynch’s Catching the Big Fish. This book insists that mental capacity and inner peace hold the keys to your creative drive, and emerging scientific evidence is beginning to back these claims. As the author guides you through his process of finding and harnessing creativity, you’ll learn more about generating your own original ideas through mindfulness and balance. You’ll also learn how life, art and consciousness are inextricably intertwined. 

4. Do It: The Compendium

Need a little more outside inspiration for creating and exhibiting artwork? Do It: The Compendium is full of helpful advice and do-it-yourself instructions from more than 60 renowned artists. Their expert guidance and off-the-wall essays will give you a framework with which to create contemporary art and maybe even spark some creative ideas of your own. Connect with Louise Bourgeois, Ai Weiwei and other prominent artists through this inspiring compilation. 

5. Design as Art

Most people think of art as a frivolous, unnecessary part of life. Others perceive it to be inaccessible because they weren’t born with natural artistic talents. But the art major knows better. You see art in everything from coffee mugs to street signs, just like Bruno Mari in Design as Art. In this work, the artist studies and celebrates the relationship between form and function in ordinary objects. More importantly, he emphasizes that art is accessible to everyone, whether you’re the creator or the onlooker. 

6. Art: A World History

By the time you earn your degree, you’ll have amassed extensive knowledge about world-renowned artists and their influential work. Yet, keeping them all straight may prove difficult in the months and years after graduation. That’s where this handy little book comes in. Art: A World History includes 900 illustrations of some of history’s greatest works of art. Plus, it’s pocket-sized so you can take it to museums, galleries or your personal studio for easy reference. 

7. Taking the Leap

Art is one of the least popular college majors because fine art majors often have the worst luck finding and keeping a job. Visual and performing arts majors also face low salaries and high unemployment rates. However, there is hope, especially for those who pick up a copy of Cay Lang’s Taking the Leap. This book gives readers practical steps to build a career in visual arts. More specifically, it helps beginners put their best foot forward when exhibiting and selling their art. 

Growing Your Personal Library 

Odds are you’ll have at least a few college textbooks to add to your bookshelf post-graduation. However, if you want to supplement your collection, the books above make excellent additions. 

Grow your personal library and inspire creativity with must-reads about using your imagination, creating real art and honoring all the greats who came before. Learn the tools of the trade from experts and study the styles of world-famous creators to grow your knowledge and skillset. Regardless of what you read, you’re bound to learn something new, which is always a good thing for art majors.

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