Are your notebooks covered in creative doodles that help you get through the endless hours of lecture? Do you love Instagram, not because of the socialization, but because you genuinely love photography and secretly use it as an outlet? Have you taken every media and art class that you could? Do you ever visit a museum and hope one day, your art is being admired on those walls? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you are an ARTIST! Check out this list to see the books that will speak to the inner artist in you!
YA Novels that Speak to Your Inner Artist
1. When We Were Infinite by Kelly Loy Gilbert
From award-winning author Kelly Loy Gilbert comes a “beautifully, achingly cathartic” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) romantic drama about the secrets we keep, from each other and from ourselves, perfect for fans of Permanent Record and I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter.
2. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Art comes in many shapes and styles. In Lara Jean’s case, it’s scrapbooking (and baking). Reading about how Lara Jean plans and creates a scrapbook for her sister will have you pulling out your bullet journal immediately.
3. Together We Caught Fire by Eva V. Gibson
In Together We Caught Fire, Lane is a fiber artist and honestly I think fiber art is going to be the next big fad! From embroidery to weaving and knitting. Lane’s fiber art will definitely inspire you to pick up some needles of your own. Also Connor, the bad boy with a heart of gold, is a metal worker. Did someone say sexy?
4. SLAY by Brittney Morris
By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is an honors student, a math tutor, and one of the only Black kids at Jefferson Academy. But at home, she joins hundreds of thousands of black gamers who duel worldwide as Nubian personas in the secret multiplayer online role-playing card game, SLAY. Although Kiera isn’t an artist in the “traditional” sense, video game design is an art form that shouldn’t be overlooked. Kiera’s creation of the game SLAY will inspire you to use your art to help your community, and to represent the causes you care so deeply about. In addition, her devotion to her craft will help you push your boundaries and see that the definition of art is broader than you previously imagined.
5. Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott
Both Stella and Will have cystic fibrosis, but while Stella has a regimented treatment schedule and has every minute of her life devoted to getting better, Will is counting down to his 18th birthday so that he can escape hospitals and live his life the way he wants. Will is a cartoon artist, and he used to dream of working for a newspaper, but no longer aspires to that anymore. Will is talented, that’s not up for debate, but after so many years of disappointment, he’s lost hope that he’s going to get better. Will uses his art as an outlet, which you will definitely relate to, but more so, he uses his art to cope with a life of chronic pain and illness. Will’s art will inspire you, because you will see how he uses it to express himself and his feelings. Will’s art is part of what gets Stella to fall in love with him, and also part of how he begins to find hope again.
6. The Truth of Right Now by Kara Lee Cothron
Dari in The Truth of Right Now is unpredictable, creative, and like you, he’s an artist. He immediately clicks with a fellow student, Lily, when she finds herself attracted to his charm and artistry. At first glance, this might remind you of Jack and Rose in Titanic, but what makes Dari and Lily’s relationship different, is the racial privilege that divides them. Lily is white, Dari is black, and although they both wish this didn’t affect their relationship, it does. More so, Dari’s identity affects his art and his perspective. This book will show you how your life experiences define not only your relationships, but your art and your point of view.
7. An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
Isobel is an artistic prodigy with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.
This book will show you the power of art, how it can make people think and feel, and how it can create real change. Isobel’s devotion to her art, and her bravery, will make you start painting more than ever before.
8. Draw the Line by Laurent Linn
Adrian Piper is a talented artist, but he prefers to stay in the background. He’s a sci-fi geek, and gay, and he fears that at his Texas high school, those things will only bring the worst kind of attention. Adrian uses art as an escape, and truly feels free to express himself at his drawing table, crafting a secret world through his own Renaissance-art-inspired superhero Graphite. But when a hate crime flips his world upside down, Adrian must decide what kind of person he wants to be, and if he’s okay staying in the background. Draw the Line will inspire you to use your art to express yourself, but more so, it will show you the power of art and free expression, and how it can used to create real change.
9. Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Kiko Himura has a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking, so she prefers to say it with her art. She feels isolated from her mother who doesn’t understand her, and wishes she better knew her Japanese heritage. All she wants is get into her dream art school, Prism, but when she isn’t accepted, she’s crushed. But then, Kiko is invited to tour art schools on the west coast by her childhood friend. Kiko jumps at the opportunity, and soon learns that she can be her own person outside of the constricting walls of her home life. In addition, Kiko is inspired more than ever before, and finds that her art is best when she’s challenging herself, and accepting herself, flaws and all. This novel will inspire you to find yourself, to take risks, and to do the best art that you are capable of creating.
10. Gemini by Sonya Mukherjee
Seventeen-year-old conjoined twins, Clara and Hailey, have lived in the same small town their entire lives, but there are cracks in their quiet existence and they’re slowly becoming more apparent. Clara and Hailey are at a crossroads. Clara wants to stay close to home, avoid all attention, and study the night sky. Hailey wants to travel the world, learn from great artists, and dance with mysterious boys. You’ll relate to Hailey’s desire to follow her dream of pursuing art, but this book will allow you to see your artistic goals from a different perspective. What if you had someone else to consider when achieving your dreams? What if it wasn’t as simple as just following your heart and ambition? Gemini will inspire your inner artist, but will also challenge your perspective about art and your personal journey and drive.
11. From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon
If film is your art form, then this book is perfect for you! Twinkle Mehra is an aspiring filmmaker who has stories to tell, if only the world would listen. When fellow film geek Sahil Roy asks Twinkle to direct a movie for the Summer Festival, it’s her dream come true. Things get complicated as Twinkle has always had feelings for Sahil’s twin brother, but starts falling for Sahil through the course of movie-making.
Told through the letters that Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love, will inspire you to get behind the camera and tell your story. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, and like Twinkle, tell your story.
12. Tiny Dancer by Siena Cherson Siegel
A teenage ballet dancer struggles to find her next step, and her place in the world, in this exquisite graphic memoir—a follow-up to the Sibert Honor–winning To Dance.
12. Bright by Jessica Jung
Crazy Rich Asians meets Gossip Girl in this knockout series from Jessica Jung, K-pop legend, fashion icon, and founder of the international luxury brand, Blanc & Eclare.