The Best Contemporary Educational Resources for Artists

“Iris” by Julie Kitzes, Watercolor on Paper, 2017

Unlike my other blog posts, this one is simply where I want to share some really great resources for artists and why I like them. Whether you’re a writer, graphic designer, illustrator, fine artist, or any other kind of creative individual, I urge you to glance through this list because there’s probably something for everyone. There are a million other fantastic resources out there, but for the sake of brevity I’m only listing my favorites.

First up, Books.

“Art Inc.” by Lisa Congdon is a great comprehensive book about the industry of art. It covers things like contracts, working with clients, handling finances, creating your personal brand, and more. It is meant for the general visual artist, but honestly I think everyone can probably gleam something from it. One thing from it that I personally enjoyed was the idea of creating a “praise file”. Every creative faces slumps where the imposter syndrome is hitting real hard and they feel like an utter failure. Having a file of times you were praised — whether it be an article about you or even a screenshot of a particularly thoughtful comment left by someone on social media, being able to pour over these little praises can rejuvenate your creative spirit. My personal praise file includes everything from reviews left by happy customers to a screen-grab of the day Strathmore art supplies started following me on Instagram.

“The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. This book has been hailed as therapy for writers and artists alike and delves into the psychological issues and traumas we all face as creative. It’s not only a good read, but is also full of weekly assignments like journaling, treating yourself to an “artists date” by yourself, and writing a nasty letter to someone who criticized and stifled your creativity as a child. This book made me aware of a lot of things to be grateful for and made me realize that every creative professional has and will face the same types of psychological obstacles.

“Light and Color” by James Gurney. Okay, so this one is just for the visual artists out there, but it’s by far the most in depth examination of the subject you will find. James Gurney takes a scientific approach to breaking down the things we visually take for granted every day and shows you how to incorporate them into your work to create more stunning pieces. All of James Gurney’s books are worth a read, but if you only have time for one, this one is the winner. P.S. If you order a book directly from him or meet him at an event he’ll autograph your books with adorable

dinosaurs.

“Picture This: How Pictures Work” by Molly Bang is a seemingly simple and almost mundane book at a glance. Written like a picture book for children with large font and simple pictures you can easily digest it in a day. However it’s that simplicity that makes it a worthwhile read. It shows you how to compose and convey emotion in images in the most basic way possible utilizing the basic elements of design. This book is great for graphic designers, illustrators, and fine artists alike.

Any podcast fans in the house?

“3 Point Perspective” is an incredible podcast created by Jake Parker, Will Terry, and Lee White. In each episode they tackle a subject such as roadblocks to success or how to find your niche. The three of them have such great insightful conversations that I’ve often found myself taking notes. The trio also host the online workshop series and free forum SVS Learn (short for school of visual storytelling).

“Your Creative Push” is a podcast that interviews a creative professional in each episode and figures out what sort of obstacles they’ve faced, how they overcame them, and how they balance life and creative work. With a new guest every episode it always makes for an interesting listen.

If Videos are more your speed…

Figuary is a Youtube channel for the 18+ crowd that features life models posing for short intervals of time. It’s not quite the same as attending a real life figure drawing session, but if you only have a few minutes or lack the resources in your location it’s a great option. The cool thing about it is also if you’re really digging a pose you can always hit pause and render to your heart’s content.

Looking for a way to connect with fellow artists? Well here are some great blogs and forums!

Dear Art Director is a tumblr page where anonymous art directors answer your anonymous questions. Worried about how to dress for an interview or act on social media? Curious about what art directors value in an artists portfolio or where they hunt for new talent? All the answers are on this blog, and you can always submit your own questions anonymously. It’s not the place for specific feedback or questions, but general things about the industry, etiquette, marketing, and more.

Muddy Colors is a great community if you’re interested in Sci-Fi and Fantasy art and looking for tutorials, interviews, art analysis, and more. Even if Sci-Fi/Fantasy isn’t your end goal, it’s still worth a browse because they often feature work and lessons from master illustrators both old and new. They also have a Youtube channel that features tutorials, tips, and tricks for artists.

Looking for exposure and jobs?

Callforentry.org and Artshow.com are both great places to find calls for exhibitions, jobs, government arts contracts, grants, scholarships, and more. Sign up for their email lists to routinely browse the current openings.