My Top Book Recommendations for Artists and Creatives (Plus a Hello from Count Count)

A reader wrote in asking which three books I consider must-read for artists.

Nice. Keep those questions coming folks.

So without any ado, these are my top recommendations, in no order of importance:

Motivation for creative people – How to Stay Creative While Gaining Money, Fame, and Reputation by Mark McGuinness

This book is extremely useful, because on of the things it explains is the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

I’d never thought about those before reading it, and it really cleared up some dysfunctional views for me.

And don’t be put off by the subtitle ‘money, fame and reputation’:

This book is free of marketing-type hyperbole, there’s no greed behind Mark’s way of thinking, and in fact, the entire book hinges on the concept that we need to feed our art.

Not just by filling the creative well, but also by earning money for it.

From the Amazon page:

“Psychological research confirms what we know in our hearts: we are at our most creative when we are driven by intrinsic motivation — working for the sheer joy of it, regardless of rewards. Focusing on extrinsic motivation — such as money, fame, or other rewards — can kill your creativity”.

Highly recommended for anyone whose views on money are such that they prevent themselves from earning more of it.

Get it here:

Next up, we have Make Art Make Money – Lessons from Jim Henson on Fueling Your Creative Career by Elizabeth Hyde Stevens

Jim Henson… I love the guy.

He gave us Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, The Fraggles, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth…

A true artist, a master of his craft, who took the art of puppetry from simple Punch&Judy shows to an artform ready to take on the 20th century.

Hilariously funny, fully dedicated to his art, he brought the world a lot of good.

I wonder how many of us didn’t learn how to count from Count Count.

And yet, Henson was an entrepreneur through and through.

To him, the money issue was never an issue: instead, he was aware that with money you can make more art, serve more people, and yes, change the world.

From kids learning counting, social skills, and the difference between in the box, on the box, under the box and outside the box (see what I did there?), to adults seeing the Muppets and realising they don’t have to take themselves so damn seriously, he’s had an impact on one generation after another, and still does.

We miss you, Jim, but your legacy lives on.

This book will transform the way you see money, and make it ultra clear that yes, with money you can indeed feed your art.


Next up, we have The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It by Kelly McGonigal

This one ranks in my list of all-time favourites (after the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, of course).

There’s severely sound research and psychology behind her narrative, but it never gets heavy or academic.

Instead, it uses real life examples and a very clever buildup to show us how and why willpower fails us, but also how to stop sabotaging ourselves and literally ease ourselves into becoming better at doing the things we want to do but often fail to do.

Because let’s face it: we all have things we want to do but don’t, things we wish we wouldn’t do but keep doing.

If you’ve ever told yourself ‘I think I should procrastinate today, but I think I’ll put if off until tomorrow’, then you need this book, trust me.

Get your copy here:

So there you have it.

Get your click on, pick the one you feel is most useful at this point, and dig in.



Oh, and if you don’t have time to read? Totally understand.

In that case, you can also get audiobook versions of the Henson and the Willpower book, on

Also published on Medium.

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