10 most inspirational art books of 2015

Get the new year off to a great start with a bookshelf jam-packed with essential inspiration, from animation wonders and movie concepts to classic art masters and comic book genius.

If you’re searching for a (very) last minute gift idea, or wanting to treat yourself with that Christmas money burning a hole in your pocket – any of these books would be well worth spending your pennies on.


01. Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic

One of Disney’s most overlooked classics, lauded by critics, finally gets the appraisal in deserves. For fans of Disney’s golden era, or those looking to delve into the beginnings of the most successful and iconic animation firm to date – you could learn a thing or two.

pinocchio making of art book spread

Packed full of inspiration, initial sketches, facts and more, this book packs everything from the film’s marketing and spin-offs up to 20 years after the original release.

02. The Art of Dave Seeley

the art of dave seeley cover

Epic is a word that gets bandied around a lot, but in the case of this collection, it’s fully justified. Take a good look at the artist’s obsessively detailed work, with his passion for detail it’s hard not to get sucked in.

the art of dave seeley spread

Seeley allows you to get fully absorbed by his process, revealing his unique approach and how he creates his dynamic compositions. trace back his origins and learn how he went from illustrating trading cards to larger scale book illustrations using a variety of techniques.

03. The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road

mad max fury road

This summer’s blockbuster had critics and fans raving, and the complimenting art book is no less impressive. Mad Max is a cultural phenomenan that has inspired countless post-apocalyptic universes, and now you have the chance to see how the original vision was re-created in the modern age.

mad max fury road art spread

The book reveals how the movie franchise was revived, not only through its feminist narrative, subverting the action flick norms, but through its considerate use of special effects, creating a cinematic spectacle that had thought to be all but lost.

04. William Blake: The Drawings for Dante’s Devine Comedy

blake divine comedy

The maddest journey in world literature, as seen through the eyes of a dying obsessive and a great artist is given new exposure in this handsome tome. While Taschen regularly produces art books so huge you need a donkey to get them home – this reproduction of English polymath, William Blake won’t invoke hernias.

Blake's devine comedy spread

Just the right helf and texture to recreate the sensation of having found the materials next to Blake’s bedside, where they were when he died in 1827.

05. VHS Video Cover Art

vhs video cover art

If you long for the days when Drew Struzan and co illustrated all your favourite movie blockbuster posters, then look no further. This book delved into those long forgotten days of the eye-catching video cassette case – so be prepared for an unfettered deluge of nostalgia.

vhs video cover art spread

Some of the art could be seen as tacky, gaudy or overblown, but it doesn’t make the imagery any less iconic. Countless artists are still harbouring back to the 80’s in their exploitation film inspired book covers, ads and more, so take a look at the real deal.

06. Mark Molnar: Behind the Pixels

Behind the pixels - mark molnar book

Calling anyone interested in the world of concept art – get your hands on Behind the Pixels. And if you’re just starting out at art college, pester your lecturers to buy a copy today.

behind the pixels book

What this book does well is not only show you how to draw and master the craft, it also reveals the whys, crucially educating the reader on industry expectations, core skills and best practices. In his introduction Molnar revals how he had to discover much of this for himself, feeling compelled to author this book to guide others.

07. The Art of Film Magic – 20 Years of Weta

Weta reveal secrets to 20 years of success

Weta Workshop and Weta Digital, the effects wizards behind The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films, combine in this lavish boxset. Weta Workshop: Celebrating 20 Years of Creativity makes up half of this lovingly produced – albeit expensive at £60 – boxset, along with Weta Digital: 20 Years of Imagination on Screen.

Together, these two volumes provide details of every nook and cranny at the effects house. If you’re willing to stump up the cash, they’re pretty much the only behind-the-scenes or making-of books you’ll ever need.

08. Fables: Covers by James Jean

fables art

Not the first release to collect together the equisite cover designs of Taiwan-born, US artist James Jean but it may well be the ultimate collection after a 13 year run of the title, Fables.

fables comic art spread

A small screen adaptation is likely with such a devoted and adoring following, but, credit for the comic series has very rarely fallen upon James. His breadth of artistic style displed throughout the book is impressive, from vibrant cartoon to mournful old master and dazzling manga.

09. The Art of Robert E.McGinnis

You'll want to get these 5 inspiring art books

One of the greatest interpreters of the stylish female form of the 20th century, the work of Robert E.McGinnis will be familiar to anyone who has seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s – or the publicity artwork for classic James Bond films Diamonds are Forever and Thunderball.

You'll want to get these 5 inspiring art books

The chic and glamorously chauvinistic world of Bond is in fact almost a millstone around the artist’s neck. The famous association gives critics easier leverage for dismissing McGinnis as a purveyor of softcore sexism. This new collection shows otherwise. He was one hell of a draftsman, who could convey story-driven characters in compelling siuations with ease.

10. Velazuez: The Complete Works

velazuez works

This Spanish master (1599-1660) managed to bottle the very breath of everyone from King to Commoner and was a major influence on the likes of Picasso and Bacon. This heavy-duty collection could appeal to art history academics as much as it does painters, with it’s text heavy pages that seem to be at odds with the open, human qualities of the art itself.

velazquez works spread

However, the art held within the pages is inspiring for any true artist: the fidelity of the reproduction shows every brush-stroke and scribbled detail before pulling out to show the overall effect of uncannily lifelike portraiture.

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