Books are a fantastic resource. The content will have been carefully selected and edited to ensure maximum quality. Publishers have to invest a lot in producing a book, so you can be reasonably sure of the quality.


Some books will have fully explored each stage of your design or artistic cycle. Others will provide fantastic techniques and processes that you have to adapt to what you are doing. There will be books that have nothing to do with your particular project, but will provide valuable insight into the topic from a non-artistic perspective. Other books are just downright inspirational.

Whichever one of these summarises the book you are looking at, the most important is that you know why it is inspirational and useful. Recognising the reason for its usefulness will make it work that much harder for you.

Equally important is not forgetting about it. You can’t buy every book you like, even if the idea sounds amazing. Building up knowledge of what books are available can make future learning and projects that much more easy.

One of the best ways to do this is to create a Book Review. Think of it like a mental picture of its content and use. It may at first appear overly in depth, but a little investment now will pay off in the long run.

The Book Review can be done in all sorts of ways. It depends what you are trying to get out of the book as a resource. You have to think about your task and find books that will help you with the steps of your creative process.

You can keep these in a separate research folder, put all the details at the back of your sketchbook or just embed the information along with the rest of the work throughout your portfolio. Find a method that suits you.

Getting the most from books

Here is a great way of structuring your log:

  • A brief summary?
  • Cover image or most important images for the student?
  • Particular details about the book as an artefact: format, paper/card, texture, smell, typeface, layout or material?
  • What the book reminds you of?
  • Why does it stand out?
  • What ideas are going to be taken from it?
  • A simple visual response using any or a particular media?


Book Log Example:

Book log for Vitamin D

By Georgina Wong

“The book covers a wide range of interesting new drawing. It has some good short articles explaining the artists. It relates to my project because it contains a wealth of different drawing techniques that I could use in my own work, particularly the work that combines media. I picked it because of the cover mostly and then noticed the kind of paper that it had, which is really beautiful. It’s a large book that has had a lot of love put into how it was made and is something that might work well for a present. Sam Durant was one of the artists that I noticed and this is the visual response I made to his work using spray and photocopier. I think others should look at this book if they want to get inspired about the different directions drawing can go in.”

Getting the most from books

Book Review – Worksheet

Aim: Reflect on books read throughout course and use these to inform personal work.


  • Produce an outline of a book
  • Reflect on the main issues raised and relate these to your project
  • Conclude the aesthetic or production ideas the book presents for you project
  • Respond to the book in a visual way



1. Collect an image of the book cover, a quick digital photo will suffice. The following sites can also help find an image and answer the following questions:


2. Write a few sentences on what the book was about:

  • How does it relate to your project?
  • What makes it stand out? Why did you pick it?
  • What ideas are you going to take from it?
  • Why should anyone else look at the book?

3. Note anything you noticed about the aesthetics or the production of the book, i.e. format, paper/card, texture, smell, typeface, layout, material, what it reminds you of, other media it might look like?

4. Print out your summary 3 times and put: 1x in your sketchbook, 1 x on the classroom wall and one back in the book for the library.

5. Create a small visual response to the book using any media for your sketchbook.


Daniel Freaker Daniel Freaker Educational Consultant, Editor for Pearson Portfolio.