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Holiday Gift Guide for Artists and Creatives in 2020

Holiday Gift Guide for Artists and Creatives in 2020

We decided to do something a little different and provide some of our favorite picks for a holiday gift guide for artists and creatives in 2020. There are classic books on art and faith listed, as well as devotionals and so much more. We get many requests from artists and creative professionals about books on so many diverse topics, from art to theology to general life stuff-we decided to share some of our top picks to give or get as a gift this year for the holidays. We’ve also included some amazing websites by our very own Catalyst Program alumni who have incredible work to buy as gifts this year.

Please note, some of the items are on Amazon (they are affiliate links) and will take you to their website, others are individual artist’s websites.Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom so you can see the cool funny gift items we picked this year too!

Check it all out!

Books on Art & Faith



Art and the Bible, Francis Schaeffer


A short, classic. If you aren’t familiar with it, do yourself a favor and get this classic.






 Art in Action, Nicholas Wolterstorff

If you are interested in aesthetics, this might be a great primer. It is from a philosophy professor’s viewpoint instead of an artist, so it comes from an external, observational viewpoint. It is insightful, but some tell me it is laborious to read if you are not into these kinds of books.





 Modern Art and the Life of  a Culture, Jonathan Anderson and William Dyrness

This is a recent book, with great insight. This is a counter narrative to the classic book by Rookmaaker – Modern Art and Death of a Culture.






The Power of Pretend, by Elizabeth Bernhardt

An alum of our Arts and Entertainment Institute, Elizabeth wrestles honestly with the challenges of being an actress and taking her faith seriously. For those in the performing arts this can be an encouraging resource.






 Walking on Water, Madeleine L’Engle

Another classic. L’Engle is best known for her book made into a movie- A Wrinkle in Time. Walking on Water explores her understanding of her faith within her creative process. Filled with some great quotes and ideas to ponder as a creative.





It was Good, Ed. Ned Bustard

Ned has edited several books in this vein. I loved this first one because it has a more rigorous appreciation of art as well as our appreciation of solid theology. I spoke at the conference in New York when the book was launched many years ago. This book still stands out as an excellent resource.





 Hollywood Worldviews, Brian Godawa

A very helpful book in discerning the worldviews inherent in popular films. Using popular films, he leads you in the process of discerning the beliefs being promoted through their films.






 Watching Movies, Watching Stories, by Troy Kinney

A genius approach – QR codes in the book you can scan to watch the film clips he is writing about. Troy’s vision was to help you further enjoy the films you watch by understanding them and being able to connect those stories with the gospel.





 Behind the Screen, Lewerenz and Nicolosi

This book has some wonderful chapters from numerous authors working in Hollywood. If you want to hear vignettes from people working in the industry, you will find this to be informative.






 Redeeming Transcendence in the Arts, Jeremy Begbie

Begbie is a professor at Cambridge University as well as at Duke University. He is an amazing pianist as well as a profound academic writer. Here he argues that a clear trinitarian view of God is essential for understanding transcendence in the arts.





 State of the Arts, by Gene Veith

Another Classic, Veith was one of the first to mention Bezalel in a book on the arts. Some of the illustrations may feel dated now, but Veith did some solid ground breaking work in this book.






 A Redemptive Theology of Art, by David A Covington

An alumnus of our Arts and Entertainment Institute, This is a profound work. David writes passionately about both beauty and truth, art and theology. Clearly this book is the fruit of a lifelong passion, applied with a God-centered adoration.









Books on Creativity

The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield

This book is as refreshingly profound as it is brief. Each chapter is short, concise and to the point. It reads like a mentor pushing you to keep creating.






Art & Fear, by David Bayles and Ted Orland

Another book every artist should read. These two art teachers weave great quotes, anecdotes and illustrations into a book that helps you face your fears knowing you are not alone!






 Creativity Inc., by Ed Catmull

Pixar created great box office hit one after the other. Read this book to understand how their corporate culture in a creative context set them apart. Hint – the freedom to fail was essential.






 Real Artists Don’t Starve, by Jeff Goins

The story of Michelangelo alone will stick with you for years to come. This book is a breath of fresh air, and it mirrors the very heart of our Catalyst Online Course for creatives. We need to dispel this myth about passion and poverty.





 The Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp

This book speaks honestly about the challenges, but also very practically about the personal discipline, mental focus, the beauty of accidents, the reality of failures, and the skills that carry you in the long run. I would recommend this to corporate CEO’s in a rut as much as a student or an actor.





 Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon

The title is reminiscent of the famous Picasso quote, “Good artists copy, Great artists steal.” If you are feeling that pressure to be original and that feeling is holding you back from starting new, or starting a new project, this might help get you out of that rut.



 Creative Confidence, by David Kelley and Tom Kelley

As David Kelley states in his TED talk, his passion is helping anyone gain creative confidence. Filled with great stories, illustrations and encouragement to break out of your own ruts, so you can pivot and innovate in your own field.





 Chance or the Dance, by Thomas Howard

With a writing style akin to C.S. Lewis, Howard tells wonderful stories while reminding us of the beauty, wonder and awe of life. This book isn’t about creativity per se. It is really about how modernity stripped life of mystery and wonder. He reminds us that this sense of wonder is essential to a life of creativity and joy.





 Range, by David Epstein

With fascinating stories of Stan Lee, David Brubeck and Nintendo, showing their path to success was not a singularly focused path. What gives people greater insight? If this doesn’t get you to think outside the box again, nothing will. A delightful read.

Devotional Books: To draw you into a deeper relationship with Christ.


 Gentle and Lowly, Dane Ortland

Wow. I just finished this book today as I write this list. Moved me to tears at times, warmed my heart, and opened my eyes to God’s tender heart for me in a new way. I highly recommend this one.






 Liturgy of the Ordinary, Tish Harrison Warren

We used this for family devotions and discussions. Tish writes so well and invites us into everyday experiences that can bring us back to the gospel. She is transparent, winsome and will help you rethink your daily life in a wonderful way.





 A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Eugene Peterson

Discipleship? What really is that anyway? Eugene was a gift to the church, and this book is no exception. I have read this book at least 4 times.






 New Morning Mercies, Paul David Tripp

So popular they now have gift editions. This is becoming a new classic, dripping with gospel grace, pointing us to a savior who loves us deeply.






 The Return of the Prodigal Son, Henri Nouwen

A timeless classic. Henri used Rembrandts painting of the Prodigal Son to illuminate his understanding of the parable told by Jesus. His humble reflection leads readers to deal with their own hearts in a powerful way.






 The Wounded Healer, Henri Nouwen

God used the wounds of Christ to heal the world. How might God use the wounds in your life? The first chapter is worth the price of the book. Profound, inspiring and encouraging.






 Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan

All-time best-selling protestant devotional (only beat out by The Imitation of Christ by Thomas Akempis). This allegory of the life of a Christian was read by Charles Spurgeon over 300 times. Written by Bunyan, a man imprisoned for his faith and for preaching the gospel, yet offered this gem for us to read.





 Dark Night of the Soul, St. John of the Cross

A classic I first read in Seminary, and one to which I refer and read probably every few years. John walks us through hard times, the dark nights and points us to Jesus. This would be great to read along with Ortland’s Gentle and Lowly for a more pastoral feel.





 Created to Draw Near, Ed Welch

Feel distant from God this year? Pick up this book and enjoy. Welch is always solid. The CCEF conference was created around this book.





Books on Marriage: Because a strong marriage gives artists stability, peace and space to have the freedom to create and pursue the very difficult work of art making.


 Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller with Kathy Keller

From one of the sharpest couples who love the Lord and have great insight. Many pastors recommend, it is a trusted resource.






 Marriage Builder, Larry Crabb

Larry Crabb has been counseling Christians for decades now. This is a classic, helping us see some of the key pitfalls we can avoid, including expecting your spouse to be for you something only God can be.






 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman

This book has sold over 13 million copies for a reason. It isn’t rocket science, but it is so helpful in understanding your loved one. Great to use before marriage, or years later.






 Marriage Matters, Winston Smith

Winston walks us through how little ordinary moments grow into major conflicts, and then helps us see how to change our marriages one ordinary moment at a time.






 Marriage: Whose Dream? Paul David Tripp

This is a very short booklet, but a helpful primer on understanding God’s purposes for marriage.






Books on Spiritual Growth: Because our faith directly affects our art making. Our engagement with the Lord gives us inspiration, healing and insight into ourselves and our world.


 Soul Keeping, John Ortberg

I had the blessing of meeting Dallas Willard a few times. He was such a gift to God’s people. This book mines true gems from Dallas through the eyes of John Ortberg.






 When People are Big and God is Small, by Ed Welch

The title sounds so simple, but the book is profoundly helpful for everyone.






 Good and Angry, David Powlison

Ever get angry? Ever wrestle with how to understand your anger? Do yourself a favor and read this classic. Sadly Powlison just passed away in 2020.






 How People Change, Paul David Tripp and Tim Lane

Beyond the quick and easy self-help market, Tripp and Lane take you into a deeper understanding of how people really change.






 War of Words, Paul David Tripp

If God spoke words to create life, and if Jesus is the “word become flesh’, maybe we have a little to learn about how powerful words are. This book helps us think more carefully about our words within a gospel framework.





Books on Depression/Suffering/ Anxiety and Shame: Because many artists and creatives wrestle with deep pain, fears and shame and desire healing.


 God’s Grace in Your Suffering, David Powlison

Few writers speak to brokenness with as much tenderness as Powlison. His understanding of the gospel was deep.






 Addictions: Banquet at Grave, by Ed Welch

This book blew me away in describing addictions, the experiences of addicts, and applying the gospel to something that has always been with us, showing that the word “addict” is only a new moniker for an old ailment of humanity.






 Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, by Tim Keller

Overcoming our pain and suffering is not quick or easy. Keller walks us through these deep waters with solid theological principles and a heart for Christ.






 The Soul of Shame, by Curt Thompson

Curt Thompson blew me away when I first heard him speak years ago. He is profound in his understanding of shame, psychology, neurobiology and spiritual formation. I cannot recommend this enough.






Books on Cultural Insight & Wisdom: Because understanding our culture helps artists and creatives understand their audience and the world around them.


 To Change the World, James Davison Hunter

If you wonder how Christianity really influences the culture around you, this is a must read. The first 40 pages are worth the price of the book. Be prepared to have your assumptions blown out of the water.






 Crisis of Responsibility, David Bahnsen

Wonder how our country walked into such chaos? Like his father, David is as sharp theologically as he is insightful about culture, economics and our country.






 You Are What You Love, James K.A. Smith

This was the first book I read by James. It is simple in one sense, but deeply profound. He corrects the obsession with ‘worldviews’ and ‘principles within Christian communities and shows us that our affections are just as critical.






 Money, God and Greed, Jay W. Richards

Did you sell a million albums this year, get a million subscribers or come into ‘sudden money’? You must read this book. It will give you solid biblical principles to help you understand what the Bible really says about money, investing, and spending.





 Culture Making, Andy Crouch

I remember being at the conference that launched this book. It is insightful, even though I disagree with his bottom-up approach to culture. His point about the creativity and impact of the little things is well taken. Read this as a counter point to James Davison Hunters book for some lively discussions in a book club.





Children’s Books by our  Catalyst Alumni: Available Now


The Christmas Color, written and illustrated by Tori Higa

As an alum of our Catalyst Program, Tori is a great talent evidenced by her awesome brand new Christmas book!






Mama, Who is Jesus? Written by Andrea Walker Williamson

An alum of the Catalyst Program Andrea is a multi-talented artist whose book shows her loving heart for kids!






AEM Board Members & Catalyst Artist’s Websites with great art, and gifts! (In Alphabetical Order)


Tom Bajoras: visit his website and purchase one of his many CDS or get his latest CD, Surprised By Beauty by clicking on the picture.







Kevyn Bashore Art: Incredible photography able to be printed on many products, visit his store today!

Angel at Sunset by Kevyn Bashore







Dana Bisignano: Composer and musician, check out his website by clicking on his name  or click on the picture to buy his last CD.







Peque Brown: An artist and Illustrator, Peque has fine art, merch and does commission work. He also provides art classes and workshops- a great gift idea!

website classes.jpg







Claudia DiMartino: Actress and playwright Claudia’s latest one woman show is now available for purchase. Check it out!

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Daniel Hendricksen: Incredible visual artist Daniel has many works available for a limited time, see his collections!

Daniel Hendricksen







Tori Higa: Not only is she an author and illustrator, Tori does all kinds of amazing art- visit her website!

That Feather Hat








Lori Ann Fuller & Voice Academy LA: Get or give some voice lessons by a Grammy Award winning vocalist! Excellent idea for the creative who wants to keep their vocal chops in tip top shape!





Silvana Tei Kenney: Her work as an installation artist and sculptor has been collected around the globe, own one of her pieces or give one of her pieces this holiday season! Click on the picture or her name to check out her website!









Josh Tjapkes: Working in innovative color palettes and mediums Josh has both original work and prints available!








Wendy Widell Wolff: Wendy’s dreamlike paintings, collages and sketches are all available as original work. Perfect for a holiday gift.

Magical realism painting by Wendy Widell Wolff - Red Light







Liberty Worth: As a textile and fine artist Liberty has very diverse work and lots of excellent Holiday gifts from large scale fine art quilts to small stocking stuffers like handmade art masks and much, much more.

fiber art









Fun gifts ideas for the artists and art lovers in your life:

Hope you enjoyed our Holiday Gift Guide for Artists and Creatives in 2020. Tell us in the comments which gift ideas you liked most!

Copyright © 2020 Joel & Michelle Pelsue. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.
As an Amazon Associate AEM earns from qualifying purchases.

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