Books Every Illustrator Should Read


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    Art by Tessa Wrathall

    As a creator, you’re only as good as what you know. How can you best amplify your imagination and harness your craft? By reading great books. Jake Parker, Lee White, and Will Terry analyze their favorite books, from the childhood classics that sparked their interest in illustration, to business guides that help flighty illustrators become precise, honed-in producers, to graphics and design manuals that teach the basic craftsmanship behind creating stunning and evocative images.

    Click here to listen and to read the shownotes.



  • @Jake-Parker ohhh this is exactly what i was hoping you’d do an episode on!


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    This is fantastic! (I think I'm about to buy a bunch of books.) And I never knew all that stuff about Thomas Kincade!

    One of Will's favorite illustrations, the big dog party in Go, Dog, Go!, was an important illustration for me as well. That tree looked just like it was sculpted out of whipped cream jello salad! And the pièce di resistance was that buried hand reaching for the other hand with an ice cream. Similarly fascinating is the page in Go, Dog, Go! with the shrubbery maze.

    Other definite images that stuck with me were Tasha Tudor's illustrations for A Little Princess, especially the one in which Sara comes into her room to find Becky by the fire, Trina Schart Hyman's willowy figures with flowing hair (especially in Snow White), and Walter Farley's horses in general, but especially in Little Black, a Pony. Oh, and let's not forget that wonderful chocolate-looking dirt in Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel!

    It is funny how our child selves get fixated on illustrations that then become part of our emotional landscape and stay with us for the rest of our lives. I honestly think that's why I want to be an illustrator. Illustrations may not be so grand in the world's eyes, but they are very important to a child.

    I look forward to hearing what other people's favorite childhood illustrations were!



  • Cheers for another great episode, really made me want to dig into my own influences.
    Was looking up books mentioned and found this from an amazon review of "Real Artists Don't Starve" by Jeff Goins:

    1. The starving artist believes you must be born an artist. The thriving artist knows you must become one.
    2. The starving artist strives to be original. The thriving artist steals from his influences.
    3. The starving artist believes he has enough talent. The thriving artist apprentices under a master.
    4. The starving artist is stubborn about everything. The thriving artist is stubborn about the right things.
    5. The starving artist waits to be noticed. The thriving artist cultivates patrons.
    6. The starving artist believes he can be creative anywhere. The thriving artist goes where creative work is already happening.
    7. The starving artist always works alone. The thriving artist collaborates with others.
    8. The starving artist does his work in private. The thriving artist practices in public.
    9. The starving artist works for free. The thriving artist always works for something.
    10. The starving artist sells out too soon. The thriving artist owns his own work.
    11. The starving artist masters one craft. The thriving artist masters many.
    12. The starving artist despises the need for money. The thriving artist makes money to make art.

    Each principle (which Goins sets out in the intro) is one of the chapters in the book. The book is also free with an audible trial which I'll def be checking out.
    Hope fellow listeners find it useful!
    -Eliav



  • Thanks for sharing @Mr-Kite!



  • Great episode @Jake-Parker, @Lee-White and @Will-Terry! I love books and very much appreciated this episode! Would also like to know what your favorite “Art of the Movie” books are and why?

    Hi @TessaW, you nailed that illustration! Well done!



  • Really enjoyed this episode, thanks for all those recommendations! I'd already read Art & Fear and The War of Art too and liked them both, I'm now interested in reading the book Lee suggested by Robert Henri.

    As a little girl I had an obsession with a book called The Porcelain Man by Richard Kennedy, illustrated by Marcia Sewall - I loved both the story and the illustration and would read it all the time although I have no particular favourite illustration, I suppose something in the book just resonated. I also had a thing for mice in clothes so I loved all the Brambly Hedge series by Jill Barklem, all the tiny details just took me away to a whole other place.

    Anyway, like Laura, my reading list just got quite a bit longer! 🙂



  • This was a most wonderful podcast! Will Terry pointed out “Go Dog Go” and “I Wish That I Had Duck Feet” - I loved these as well. That tree image at the end was amazing. You could look at it for hours. Also, in that same book, when they were all in the same bed and the one little dog had his eyes open?? I also loved: Prince Bertram the Bad Book by Arnold Lobel. I would stare forever at those illustrations. Simple yet complicated. Thanks for an excellent podcast and now I have a bunch of books to go read. Many thanks to Jake, Lee and Will. 😁



  • I immediately bought the book by Molly Bang after listening the podcast, and it is genius!! Thanks so much for the recommendation!

    Also thanks for making me laugh out loud yet again! I lost it at the Thomas Kinkade ghost painting highlights on lamp posts. 🤣 🤣 🤣



  • @Jeremy-Ross Thanks, that's sweet of you to say! Really appreciate it.

    @carlianne Omg, that ending was quite hilarious. Vials of Thomas Kinkade blood- what?



  • @TessaW okay I looked it up because I'm that kind of person 😂 I had to knoooow

    From my research, It sounds like he used a DNA matrix signature pen as a method of proving authenticity of his paintings. So technically there could have been blood or spit in that it something? But, he didn't just like randomly put blood in his paint as far as a can tell 😂


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    Somewhat surprised that Graphic Artist Guild Pricing and Ethical Guidelines (15th Edition) didn't come up in the conversation.

    This is by no mean the final word on pricing or professional practices but it is a good place to start. Especially when starting out, when you don't even know what it is you don't know.

    It's broken up into bite sized chunks that can be taken in slowly over time.


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