Did you know: May is “Get Caught Reading Month”. That’s my excuse to share a list of my eight favorite artistic books and magazines! Each of these written works will inspire you to get creative and try something new.
Modern Calligraphy was one of the first calligraphy books that I ever picked up. It was refreshing to encounter a “do what works for you” tone in calligraphy! I also learned a lot of useful techniques, like watercolor calligraphy and how to write with gouache.
You should note that this book focuses more on cool DIY projects than the actual process of creating calligraphy. If you’re a complete calligraphy beginner, Modern Calligraphy is probably not the best place to start. However, if you already know how to use a dip pen, you’ll appreciate the numerous project tutorials and the alphabet examples.
Another gem by Molly Suber Thorpe, The Calligrapher’s Business Handbook provides advice for anyone who has ever thought of selling their calligraphy or lettering. It’s a great read even if you’re only casually entertaining the idea of monetizing your skills! (You can read my review of this book here.)
I really enjoyed The Calligrapher’s Business Handbook as a confidence booster for fledgling calligraphers and designers. Many people who are just dipping their toes into the realm of custom work tend to underprice and overcomplicate, which is exactly what I did at the beginning! This book helps you to avoid some of the pitfalls of going into business for yourself.
3. The Calligraphy Ideas Book by Lyndsey Gribble
The Calligraphy Ideas Book is exactly that: a collection of various calligraphy examples. It’s a little book that packs a big inspirational punch! In it, you’ll find photos of works by calligraphers you may have heard of (like yours truly) and calligraphers that you have yet to discover.
Every casual browse through The Calligraphy Ideas Book sparks a new project idea for me. I like that each artist/calligrapher brings a different style to the book.
4. Typography Sketchbooks by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico
Typography Sketchbooks boasts a collection of fascinating lettering examples pulled from artists’ sketchbooks. All different mediums make an appearance: pens, paints, block prints, and even soda cans!
One important thing to know about Typography Sketchbooks is it’s not a how-to book. Instead, it feels more like a vibrant museum of hand-lettering in book form. I enjoy Typography Sketchbooks because each flip-through prompts me to try something new, from painting letters with watercolors to enhancing illustrations with words.
5. Artists’ Journals and Sketchbooks by Lynne Perrella
My grandmother gave me Artists’ Journals and Sketchbooks fifteen years ago, and I find inspiration in it to this day. In addition to providing examples of different artists’ sketchbook pages, the author has included instructions for different techniques.
This is the book that introduced me to mixed media sketchbooking. For example, it teaches you eight different ways to do image transfers and encourages using photocopies of old family photos in your work. The artists featured in the book use everything from aluminum foil to fabric to add visual and tactile interest to their work!
6. Spilling Open: The Art of Becoming Yourself by Sabrina Ward Harrison
Spilling Open is a published sketchbook created by artist Sabrina Ward Harrison in her late teenage years/early 20’s. She uses photographs, masking tape, the dip pen, ink splotches, and all other assorted media to record her thoughts and feelings. This leads to a beautiful, messy effect that keeps your eyes busy and your creativity whirring!
I first encountered Spilling Open as a high school freshman. As a young adult, this sketchbook resonated with me because of how articulately it put teenage angst to paper. I still appreciate the book’s aesthetic and rawness, and I think it provides a good example of what a sketchbook journal can be.
After reading Samantha Dion Baker’s Draw Your Day, you’ll be inspired to do just that! Draw Your Day is full of information and example pages to get you excited to document your experiences while honing your art and lettering skills.
Draw Your Day challenges you to approach each day with artistic curiosity. The book includes several sketches of subjects that she creates throughout her day, from grapes on the counter to people at coffee shops. Walking in Dion Baker’s literary shoes will empower you to capture little moments throughout your day on paper … leading to fabulous results!
TPK’s own Marvelous Mail eBook is a goldmine of inspiration for people who love to create beautiful envelopes. In its pages, you’ll find tips, printables, and examples to help you make mail art and envelopes that stand out. If you want to make calligraphed envelopes, you’ll find the Address Guidelines Templates in the eBook to be particularly helpful.
The eBook was recently updated to include additional mail art examples and tutorials. If you appreciate eye-catching envelopes, Marvelous Mail is a must-read!
(It’s 10% off through Wednesday, May 18th!)
Honorable Mention: Calligraphy Crush Magazine
Calligraphy Crush Magazine is an incredible resource for anyone who loves calligraphy and lettering. Sometimes, the magazine even dips its toes into illustration! In it, you’ll find interviews and tutorials from talented calligraphers far and wide. The magazine never fails to provide lots of inspirational photos an exemplars to inspire you.
You don’t have to be a calligraphy nerd to appreciate Calligraphy Crush; the magazine does a good job of focusing on art in general. Choose the issue that most appeals to you; then, read it on your iPad or your computer.
I hope that you enjoyed this little collection of some of my favorites! If your favorite artistic books or magazines didn’t appear on this list, please contribute to the comments. I’m always on the lookout for new reading material, and others will appreciate your advice as well!
Thanks so much for reading TPK, and enjoy the rest of your week!
This article was first posted in May 0f 2018. It has been revised to include new favorites and exclude favorites that are no longer available, like Flow Magazine and Project Calm Magazine.