Our Favorite Books for Print-spiration

Our studio library is one of the most helpful resources for designing prints. When the internet just isn’t delivering or you’re not sure what you’re looking for, turning to an old-fashioned, tactile book is a great way to get the creative juices flowing again.

And while we have a wide range of books in our studio, there are some that we keep turning to (and turning the pages of) over and over. So we’d thought we’d give them a little shout out - and give you a little guide - by honoring some of our very favorites on the blog!

Textile Designs: Two Hundred Years of European & American Patterns Organized by Motif, Style, Color, and Period by Susan Meller & Joost Elffers

A print designer’s best friend! If you’re looking for a spark of inspiration, this book is for you. The subtitle alone gives you an idea of what we mean. While it sticks to only European & American designs, there’s a wealth of information in here that will be sure to get you out of any creative rut. Excellent for color reference, motif ideas, and layout composition, this book is a studio must-have!

Flower Color Guide by Darroch & Michael Putnam

Painting florals and can’t find good images? We highly recommend this book. Not only are the photographs beautiful, but they focus on the details of a wide variety of flowers. You’ll find easy-to-recognize blooms alongside unique and unusual flora. And all arranged by color! 

The Fine Art of Textiles: The Collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art by Dilys Blum & The Philadelphia Museum of Art

We’re a Philadelphia-based studio, so this was a necessary addition to our studio library. It covers the entire collection of textiles from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. And we love that some of those pieces were created by Pennsylvania artisans! The quilt designs are excellent inspiration for patchwork, folk, and Americana prints. We love finding inspiration from our local area! 

The Birds of America by John James Audubon

A classic! This famous book features hundreds of stunning and highly-detailed paintings of birds. Birds perching, birds flying, birds nesting, birds chirping… You name it, this book has it. It’s a perfect reference for conversational prints that might feature birds, such as woodland scenics, William Morris-inspired prints, tropical convos, toile prints, etc. Just don’t be surprised if you get sucked in by the beautiful images and forget to draw your motifs!

Patterns of India: A Journey Through Colors, Textiles & the Vibrancy of Rajasthan by Christine Chitnis

Such a gorgeous book! It really takes you on a journey through the creative landscape of northern India. Images of food, flowers, and faces remind you that inspiration is everywhere. But the focus on color, pattern, and texture is striking and illuminating. An excellent resource for a print studio!

So there you have it! The prized publications at Surface Print Source. There were many honorable mentions, but this gives you an idea of what can be helpful when designing and creating motifs and prints. Do you have some favorite books for inspiration?