January 31st is Inspire Your Heart with Art Day, a day to recognize how art affects our identities and our lives. Art isn’t just visual; it can take the shape of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, dance, and more. From the books we read to the images we see on Instagram, art is an essential part of life. If you want a deeper look at the meaning of art or want to find some new inspiration, check out one of these books.
The Art Book by Editors of Phaidon
This A-Z guide will introduce you to the best artists and sculptors with examples of their definitive works and relevant information. The book, now a staple in the art book world, also includes explanations of art movements and technical terms. If you’re looking to brush up on your art history, this tome is perfect for you.
Just Kids by Patti Smith
In this memoir, American singer, poet, and artist Patti Smith documents her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Taking readers back to the enchanting streets of New York in the 1960s and 1970s, Just Kids explores youth, friendship, and love. The memoir showcases Smith’s talent as a writer while offering a look into the mind and inspiration of one of America’s most talented and skilled artists.
A Story That Matters by Gina L. Carroll
Everyone has a story to tell. If you’ve ever wanted to tell that story through a memoir, this book will help you do that. Each chapter is divided into three sections: developing themes, basic writing and editing, and a sample story. With her practical and instructive advice, Carroll proves that writing your own story can be impactful and fun.
The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh edited by Mark Roskill
Take a look into the mind of one of the world’s most revered painters. This collection of letters, written to his brother and confidante Theo, showcases the thoughts and inspirations of Van Gogh. The letters reveal his creative process, inspiration from literature and nature, and his sometimes-troubling personal life.
The Natives Are Restless by Constance Hale
Journalist Constance Hale proves that the art of hula is alive and well across the world. Through the story of a modern hula master based in San Francisco and his arts organization, Hale uncovers the history of the dance tradition. Complete with photographs and illustration, this book proves the adaptability and persistence of dance throughout the ages.
The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Claire
Have you ever wondered about how we’ve come to recognize and love certain colors? St. Clair researches and tells the unique stories behind seventy-five iconic colors, such as Van Gogh’s yellows and imperial purple. These stories link art, fashion, politics, and war, and ultimately come together to paint a fascinating—and colorful—portrait of humanity’s collective culture.
The House of Bradbury by Nicole Meier
Mia Gladwell is a writer who’s been left by her Hollywood producer fiancé and is now living in her sister’s carriage house. When Ray Bradbury’s iconic Los Angeles estate goes up for sale, Mia jumps at the opportunity. When she moves, her life gets a lot more complicated, and mysterious, than she ever expected. This novel is a thoughtful look a young writer’s life and where to find inspiration.
Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith
Keeping a journal is a great way to spark creativity. This illustrated book serves as a guide for readers who want to engage their artistic side, but don’t know how. Each page features a new prompt, such as painting with coffee and defacing photos, forcing readers to trust their creative instincts and uncover their artistic process.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, this novel follows the story of Theo Decker, who’s taken in by a wealthy family after the death of his mother. Adjusting to his new life, he clings to a painting that reminds him of his mother, which ultimately introduces him to the dark world of art. This story of obsession and survival explores the haunting power of art in all its forms.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
Stephen King, one of the world’s most celebrated contemporary writers, shares his experiences and advice on his craft. King weaves his lessons into memories of his childhood, early career, and a near-fatal accident that reinvigorated his passion for writing. This memoir is both empowering and illuminating for readers and writers alike.
*The Artist Portrait Project by Jennifer Spencer
Returning to the San Diego arts scene after a five-year absence, Jennifer Spencer photographed the artists she once worked with as executive director of a visual arts organization. The project turned into a ten-year journey, resulting in a photographic memoir that recounts her opinions and experiences of this art community. Debuting in July, The Artist Portrait Project is a memoir about reconnecting with your creative spirit and self-discovery.
*Bonus! This book isn’t out yet, but is available for preorder now.