My Five Go-To Art Books

Whenever I’m stuck for a little inspiration I always go straight to my ever-growing book shelf. Flicking my way through the shelves of alternative magazines, comics, biographies and picture books, but each time I fall back on these five little beauties. So today I’m going to give you a little preview of my favourite books. The ones which give me inspiration and cure any artist block I have. I’ve linked each book to amazon too in case any of you fancy a cheeky read.


  1. Violent Cases by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean

I’ve always been a fan of the collaboration work of Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. They just work perfect together through films such as ‘Stardust‘ and ‘MirrorMask‘. The stories Neil Gaiman creates are so magical and deep but it’s Dave McKean who really steals the spotlight for me.

The man uses such beautiful line work. So sketchy and creative with his splashes of paint and digital manipulation with flashes of photography. It’s an Illustrator’s dream. After reading a few of his other comics I was delighted to be given this book by an old friend when I was going through bit of a hard time. The book about a young boy dislocating his arm really spoke to me and hearing the stories of the doctor meeting Al Capone brought me a motivation when I really needed it. A few years back I watched a talk with Dave McKean at Bradford Media Museum. (If you haven’t been then I truly recommend it) and came away with this book signed by my hero.


2. The Tattoo Chronicles by Kat Von D

Kat Von D as most of you will know is a tattoo artist based in Los Angeles. She has become world famous for her portrait tattoos and now her beauty brand ‘Kat Von D Beauty‘ As well as her cool dress style, I found her books to be the most inspirational. She has realised 3 Books so far, ‘High Voltage Tattoo‘, the book above and ‘Go Big or Go Home‘.

It’s this second book that I adore the most. It’s small and perfect to hold with it’s engraved text cover. The photographs inside are perfection. Beautifully taken and mixed with such hand crafted typography. Each page is decorated with illuminated type and positioned intricate drawings, which look like they’ve come out of old newspapers or anatomy journals. I would recommend this to any typography lover.


3. Kabuki- The Alchemy by David Mack

This is a story about an assassin who struggles with her identity in near future Japan. For me it represented a new start, a way to identify  and express yourself. The story is captured so beautifully through David Mack’s illustrations. Using mixed media, paint, collage and found objects to create such an inspiring story.

David Mack swaps and changes from hyper realistic portraits to sketchy line work creating different styles for each section of the narrative. With his use of the first person you feel like the assassin herself is speaking to you through her own journals. This is enhanced through the collage work and changing backgrounds. I must have read this novel at least ten times. Each time I pick it up I notice a different detail or beautifully written quote. Once you start reading you won’t want to put it down.


4. Latex Fashion Photography

Wow! So what can I say about this book. This has been a book I refer back to a lot. I use it mainly as a reference book for my illustrations. It features some stunning latex clothing designed by amazing creative designers who are not scared to express themselves. Combine that with beautiful unique models and professional photographers this book stands out from the crowd.

Some days you just can’t get down to that life drawing class or you may be unsure on the position you want your figure to be in. This is where I’ve found this book to be extremely helpful. It has inspired me for my composition of characters, the style that I wanted them dressed or the overall look I want in my character. It has been one of the most inspiring books that I’ve ever bought and has helped me through quite a few creative blocks.


5. Gig Posters- Rock Show Art of the 21st Century

This is the first book out of the series and I really want to get my hands on the second. Gig posters have been around for years, providing us all with information on our favourite bands and unlimited art work for our walls, all designed by lowbrow, underground artists.

This A3 sized book is filled with poster artwork, each with perforated edges so you can tear them gently out and place them adoringly on your walls (something I am just way to scared to do. I just don’t want to ruin my book). On the following side, It provides you with a small interview of each artist and images of their other posters. How awesome is that? It is brilliant if you are struggling with composition or need a helping hand on what makes an eye catching poster design. Each piece is individual but shows you each artist’s individual style and how they work.

Now that you’ve seen a little bit of what inspires me on a regular basis, I would love to hear  what inspires you or if you have any books or sites to recommend.

Thank you for taking your time to read this and you can also find me on the links below.


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