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10 books every artist must read [that have nothing to do with making art]

To survive and continue to make art, it is crucial to have some business sense.

10 books that are absolutely essential for every artist who wants to make a living out of this exhilarating career!

The 4-Hour Workweek

Tim Ferriss gets a bad rap. His polarizing personality seems to distract from the content of his books. And the content is great. There’s a lot to learn here about passive income, separating the notion of money from work, and generally upsetting many of the “normal” mindsets we have on things. This book was life-changing. No joke.

Your Money or Your Life

The single most important book on personal finance you can read. Countless invaluable lessons and simply an essential way to look at money. If you’re scared of money or saving or investing or anything, read this. You won’t regret it. While I have minor qualms with some of the notes on investment, this is an incredibly good book.

I Will Teach You To Be Rich

Yes, the title is terrible. But I swear the book isn’t. Aimed at a bit of a younger crowd, this was my introduction to the world of personal finance. This was the book that taught me how to take control of my finances so I could feel comfortable (and even pay off my student loans). Some great stuff about responsible use of credit cards and conscious spending (yes, you should be allowed to spend money without guilt!).

How to Win Friends & Influence People

You need to read this. I certainly need to read this (again). We should really all read this. The ability to simply get along with other people is, often times, not that easy for some of us. But just like drawing or painting, this can be studied and practiced. So let’s all learn how to be nice and treat others the way we’d like to be treated.

Anything You Want

Derek Sivers offers the fascinating perspective of an artist who almost inadvertently wandered into the world of business. He also did incredibly well for himself. A very fun, short read with invaluable life lessons.

Permission Marketing

One of the best Seth Godin books out there. He goes against many of the common thoughts on marketing (that is to say, buy as much advertising as you can and hope for the best). In terms of getting out your personal brand as an artist, the advice is perfect. The information here is easily applied to a freelancer.

All Marketers Are Liars

Seth Godin’s so good, he gets two books on the list. The central message of the book, despite the catchy title, is on the telling of stories. What story does your life/art/business tell the world? Is it an honest, compelling one? Because it needs to be if you really want to connect with your audience.

The Power of Habit

Habits control us. So it’s about time we realized that, understood it, and figured out how to use habits to our advantage. This book goes over how habits work and also how we can begin to adjust our own habits to lead healthier, happier lives.


Why do people do the things they do? Why do we choose to buy from certain people? Why do we like certain companies? Why do we donate to certain causes (and maybe dump ice on our heads)? Psychology is a fascinating science and this book is a revealing look at psychology as it relates to the world of business & sales. Whether you’d like to learn how to avoid sleezy business tactics or perhaps learn to sell your work better, this book is for you.

22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

Simple, concise, and accurate. These laws should not ever be forgotten. Keep them in mind no matter what you’re pursuing and you’ll have an easier time of it.


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