I recently stumbled across Days of the Year, which is a website that tells you about little-known holidays and observations. Through Days of the Year, I discovered that May is “Get Caught Reading” month. That was the excuse I needed to provide you with 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.
Lettering + Calligraphy Books
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 skill!
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.
More Creative Lettering stands apart from other artistic books because it’s a curated series of tutorials by different artists. Each artist provides instructions for a few of their favorite simple projects. You’ll also find several photos of lettering inspiration.
Every casual browse through More Creative Lettering sparks a new project idea for me, from birthday cards to sketchbook pages. I like that each artist brings a different style to the book, which gives each tutorial a distinct, fresh feel!
4. Typography Sketchbooks by S. Heller and L. 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 it always 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 a decade ago, and I still heavily reference it to this day. In addition to providing copious 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 between the ages of 18 and 21. The author/artist 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.
Flow Magazine is a quarterly collection of thoughtful essays and articles, paper goodies, and artistic inspiration. The Holland-based publication bills itself as “A Magazine That Takes Its Time”, which is wonderfully true! Instead of generating fluff content to meet too-short deadlines, the magazine consistently turns out quality information.
I love this magazine for its top-notch content and interesting articles. Flow has explored a myriad of topics, from how waking up early can (or cannot) benefit you to the importance of friendship in your life. The editors pepper artistic inspiration and project tutorials throughout the magazine. Whenever I finish reading an issue, I feel artistically and emotionally renewed!
8. Project Calm
I discovered Project Calm on a recent trip to Amsterdam, where I found myself in a bookstore looking for Flow. Project Calm is a UK-based magazine that follows the same principles as Flow, but with a focus on wellbeing.
Project Calm is aptly-named. Just flipping through it makes you feel more centered and creative! The magazine contains many examples of beautiful art and photography, and features art tutorials. I’m loving the “Creating Space for Wellbeing” article from issue 3 right now, as we’re remodeling and our home is in disarray!
In short, both Flow and Project Calm are perfect for the creative person who is also looking for balance in life. Both magazines resemble books more than magazines as we know them in the US. You can pick up virtually any issue from any year, and you’ll be happy with what you get!
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!