We all of us love a good artist! As an art school grad myself, I can confirm that artists are a ton of fun to be around when we’re not drowning in deadlines and existential angst. But even with the artsy angst, our creative brains and bizarre ideas will keep you on your toes! And while I may not have gone on to become an illustrator the way I thought I would (thank goodness for that, honestly, I adore my job), going to art school was one of the best things I’ve ever done! Truly, I loved every second of it! Okay, fine, not the all-nighters and constant charcoal under my nails. But aside from that it truly was magic. So in the spirit of celebrating the creative gene in all of us, here are some of my favorite YA artists who helped reignite my love of art!
Megan and Cass from My Last Summer with Cass
by Mark Crilley
Illustrated by Mark Crilley
I have no shame, I full-on ugly cried when I read this book. Not only is the art absolutely jaw-droppingly drool-worthy gorgeous, the story it told punched me right back to my senior year of high school trying to convince my parents to let me go to art school. Megan and Cass were joined at the hip (and the paint brush) growing up. The summer after their Junior year, Megan stays with Cass and her mother in New York City exploring the city and their artistic endeavor. I won’t spoil any more than that, but let’s just say I relate to Megan on a visceral level.
Jane from The P.L.A.I.N. Janes
by Jim Rugg
The PLAIN Janes follows, well, the Janes! Artsy Jane, Brain Jayne, Theater Jane and spoty Polly Jane all band together to form P.L.A.I.N – a secret club dedicated to waking up their fellow citizen with guerrilla art scattered across town. But for Artsy Jane, our Main Jane if you will, the group is more than just an act of teen rebellion – it’s an act of survival. After getting caught in the midst of a terrorist attack, she’s determined not to let fear rule her life. Armed with a sketchbook and a passion, she’s the perfect role model for any artist and proves that art is more than just paint on a canvas. This book helped me to remember the reason I love art at a time when I felt thoroughly disconnected from my creativity. If that’s not a stunning recommendation, I don’t know what is.
Danny from Picture Us in the Light
Danny Cheng has been an artist for as long as he can remember and it seems his path is set, with a scholarship to RISD (woot woot, my alma mater!) and his family’s blessing to pursue the career he’s always dreamed of. And yet, thinking of the future with his best friend Harry Wong makes him feel a panic he can’t put into words. Then, when Danny digs into his parents’ past, he uncovers a secret that disturbs the foundations of his family history. Danny will have to face the ghosts of the past in order to build a future that belongs to him. Even once you know where you’re going to school and that you can, in fact, study something you’re passionate about, the future can be scary. I remember that feeling well, and reading Danny’s story brought be back to that both glorious and terrifying time.
Isobel from An Enchantment of Ravens
When I tell you this book gave me butterflies – ooh! Another fae fantasy for me to swoon over! Isobel is a portrait artist for some dangerous clientele: the fair folk. These immortal creatures cannot create. They cannot bake bread or put a pen to paper or paint, and they crave human Craft with a terrible thirst. When Isobel receives her first royal patron – Rook, the autumn prince – she makes a deadly mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes, weakness that could cost him his throne and his life. What follows is a glorious, lush, fantastical romance filled with knife’s edge romance and, of course, beauty. Do you have any idea how badly I would love to be whisked away to fairy for the skill of my brush? TAKE ME. I’M RIGHT HERE!
Ava from Most Likely
by Sarah Watson
Ava is the picture-perfect artist who is secretly struggling to figure out where she belongs. Jordan is a would-be journalist, who knows she’s ready for more than her small Ohio suburb can offer. CJ has everything figured out, except how to fix her terrible SAT scores. And Martha will have to overcome all the obstacles that stand in the way of her dreams. Four best friends, all in their senior year of high school. One of them will become the first female president of the United States. The question is… which one? Ava is just one of four magnetic girls, but of course I related to her best because of (duh) her artistic streak! But seriously, all these girls are brilliant!
Clary Fray from City of Bones
Not gonna lie, City of Bones made me want to go to NYU to study art. Obviously, that didn’t happen (the NYU bit) but her journey through the magical underbelly of New York was a formative experience in young Savannah’s life. I am still jealous that I have yet to run into Shadowhunters in all my clubbing experiences in the city. Where is my Jace, huh? I’m right here! Anyway, Clary’s rune drawings inspired me to doodle Shadowhunter runes across my sketchbooks for a number of years. I just – I wanted to be Clary, okay?! Secret’s out! I’m a fangirl! Are you happy now?!
James from The Hearts We Sold
JAMES!!! The artist boy I thought I would meet in art school, the fictional painter book boyfriend I always wanted! He is glorious as he is strange. Plus, he acts like a real artist! His flat is filled with nothing but canvas and the smell of paint, he dresses in nothing but the rattiest of jeans, and he regularly forgets to eat! So romantic! No, but seriously, he is the sweetest oddball, and I dare you – dare you – not to fall immediately in love with him.
Did I mention this book features demons who make deals – one body part in exchange for a wish come true? And that James gave his heart to a demon? Well, now I did!