7 books every creative professional should have on their shelf

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There’s nothing like a good book to freshen up on your skills and learn something new to improve your career. Fortunately, there are thousands of interesting books, tomes and volumes out there that can be of inspiration to any creative professional in this industry.

Designers are notoriously meh with words, but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy reading them. Yes, reading a good book can enrich your soul, but it can also be incredibly refreshing for inspiration. Stuck on a project you don’t quite know how to unclog? Try reading a good book on creativity, and see your troubles fade away into nothingness.

7 books for any creative professional

When it comes to good books for creative professionals, it’s hard to come up with a definitive list. There are some classics of course, but good books come out every year and a lot of them will have some form of unique insight that trumps the ones before them.

Especially in the digital age, things move too fast for a book to stay relevant after 10 years, and sometimes even after five. A book from 2016 may already be considered old history.

So we don’t claim in any way that the list below will be definitive or exhaustive. But we still tried to collect some of the most recent masterpieces in terms of creative non-fiction, as well as some indisputable evergreens.

Here are 7 books that any creative professional should keep on their shelf.


Image credit: Pylyp Sukhenko

1. The Storytelling Animal | Jonathan Gottschall

All creatives are storytellers. That is a simple truth that is impossible to escape. The sooner you realise that, the better your career is going to be. But an even stronger realisation is perhaps that storytelling isn’t exclusive to creative people; it’s something all humans do incredibly well.

Think about it: that time you asked your friend for an update on their job situation, that relationship that you so badly wanted closure on, even that day you lost the bus and had to run to the underground station to make it in time – we humans live and breathe stories. Jonathan Gottschall’s book takes a slightly evolutionary and anthropological point of view to explain why that is the case, and why humans are a ‘storytelling animal’. A must read for anyone creating anything in this world.

2. Copywriting is… | Andrew Boulton

It doesn’t matter if you are a copywriter or not, Andrew Boulton’s book is gold dust for anyone doing creative stuff for a living. Yes, it is specifically conceived for copywriters, but again, so much of what he says can be applied to a lot of other creative professions.

Do graphic designers never want to work in isolation? Do they not fear destructive feedback more than anything else? Do they not have their pet peeves and personal interests and even thoughts about being specifically a designer? If you ever did think any of these things, then Andrew’s book is for you.

3. Confessions of an Advertising Man | David Ogilvy

Loved or hated, David Ogilvy was a legend of advertising and his work influenced an entire industry as it stepped into the golden age of ads on print and TV. His first memoir, Confessions of an Advertising Man, is both a compelling read on the life of Ogilvy himself and a very small, easily digestible handbook packed with shareable concepts for any professional in advertising.

Ogilvy’s book is a must-read for any creative professional looking to get serious about their craft. It includes tips on writing copy that matters, finding clients, managing an agency and so much more – and although a lot of it will be out of date for the digital age, a lot more will never grow old. A highly recommended book to read, regardless of your job title.


Image credit: Manita Kaewsomnuk

4. Why Fonts Matter | Sarah Hyndman

What goes behind choosing a typeface or a font? Quite possibly more than you would think. Choosing a font in graphic design isn’t random. In her book, Sarah Hyndman has collected every possible insight about fonts you could ever imagine, and she thoroughly explains the science of choosing fonts – revealing, for example, the different effects fonts can have on people.

It’s a bit of an unusual read for the average graphic designer, perhaps, but definitely interesting and worth of a chance if you’re in the business. And for anyone else, it’s an interesting thought experiment to understand how things work in the realm of creativity – particularly in relation to the human brain.

5. The Choice Factory | Richard Shotton

And about the human brain, Richard Sotton’s The Choice Factory is an absolute must for anyone looking to dive deeper into behavioural biases and purchasing habits. We humans make millions of small choices every day, and this incredibly fascinating books dives into the nuts and bolts of what determines our most instinctive decisions.

You can tell a lot about people by the kinds of choices they make during the day. Richard’s book focuses on the marketing potential of these insights, of course, which should sound immediately interesting to any creative professional out there.

6. Thanks for the Feedback | Douglas Stone & Sheila Heen

Who doesn’t dread feedback? If you’ve mastered the art of nodding along and accepting criticism, congratulations, you’re one of the most impressive human beings on this planet. Taking feedback, receiving it and accepting it is a skill in and of itself, and a difficult one to master – particularly as we tend to feel every single work of creativity as being highly personal and close to heart.

And yet we get feedback every day, from friends, family, colleagues and our beloved ones. This feedback is what allows us to go on and improve ourselves, in life as in work. This wonderful read by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen addresses this ongoing tension in our lives, and offers some genuine, clear tips to become better at receiving feedback – not only in the workplace, but in the day-to-day routine as well.


7. The Creativepool Annual… of course!

The Annual is Creativepool’s award for the creative industries. Every year it collects hundreds of groundbreaking creative works and projects from the top professionals and agencies in the entire industry, worldwide. It’s a global award, and one with a magnitude worth of its reach.

Whether you’re looking for a way to stay up to date with the industry, you’re seeking inspiration or you’re looking for new clients, The Annual is your one-stop-shop for all your creative needs. Every year the winning entries are showcased in a beautiful hardcover book that gets shipped industry-wide, and everyone can order a copy for themselves.

But while entries for this year are still open… why not enter the creative Olympus with some of your own work?

Header image: Oliver Hurst


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