Essential Reading List for Urban Artists – by T.M.A April 5, 2018

T.M.A – a digital artist and painter from Pop My Mind – takes us through his library of essential reads for urban artists like himself. Hear what inspires T.M.A and how he creates work by building on the essential source material he finds in books, blogs and social media accounts…

Introduction to T.M.A’s Reading List

Q: Where do you find your books?

A: The books I own are mainly specific artists that I have come across, liked and wanted to have their work at hand for reference and inspiration. Art books can be pretty expensive, so I also have some other books which showcase a lot of artists together so that I access a lot of different styles and content in one place. Books like Schizophrenic: Lowdown Graphic Engineering part 1 and 2, and things like the VNA Magazine (which has just finished releasing new issues but still have some discounted copies available on their websites) are great sources of inspiration.

Q: What would be your perfect book? 

A: A big coffee table book full of visual stimulation. Or just any book as long as it has enough inspiration in.

Q: How important is source material in your practise?

A: Source material is a huge thing for me: it provides learning opportunities, samples for my work and enjoyment. Sometimes it helps by making me think I could try and create something better than the source material, which then inspires me to create something in response to the piece that I’ve seen.


Here are T.M.A‘s top book choices and why he recommends them to other inspiration-seeking art-lovers…

Scrawl: Dirty Graphics and Strange Characters

Why buy:

  • An older book, published in 1999, but still very relevant today.
  • An early introduction to a lot of artists whose careers have influenced my work.
  • A good mixture of graffiti artists and graphic designers.

Will Barris: Yeah Man

Why buy:

  • A masterful British painter, whose use of outlines, colours and textures is second to none.
  • Very abstract.
  • This book inspires me in ways to use colour and fuse different styles together.

Conor Harrington: Watch Your Palace Fall


Why buy:

  • A really interesting mix between graffiti and renaissance painting. This was the primary focus of his early work before he delved more deeply into the side of renaissance painting.
  • This book is all about the textures for me – he is the master of texture and drips.

Writing: Urban Calligraphy and Beyond

by Markus Mai,‎ Arthur Remke and Robert Klanten

Why buy:

  • Another older book, published in 2004, but very useful with a lot of source material.
  • A mixture between really strong graphics, typography and abstract street sculpture.
  • This book shows an interesting use of how to fuse these different elements together.

Jose Parla: In Medias Res

Why buy:

  • A master of texture: fusing texture and calligraphy together.
  • I get great inspiration from the textures in this book and his work in general.


Digital Resources

As a self-taught artist, T.M.A has mastered the art of finding new knowledge and examples of other artists’ work from a broad array of sources. Here are some blogs and social media accounts that he regularly goes to for fresh ideas, with the benefits of being free and easily accessible too!


Why read:

  • Although not as frequently updated as it once was, there is a goldmine of great content and it’s still worth checking out even just to go through the older posts.
  • The artist Poesia who created the site coined the term graffuturism which has become a movement in its self.
  • It gives a wide coverage of artist in graffiti, street and urban contemporary art world.
  • This website switched me on to more people (that I now follow) more than any other source.


Why read:

  • Another good source of goings-on in the contemporary urban street scene.
  • Shares everything from exhibitions through to print releases by artists.

Abstract Mag (Instagram @abstract.mag)

Why look:

  • Showcases a wide range of abstract work by various artists.
  • This helps me to build my network as it continually leads me to find new artists to follow. Instagram is a good source of visual stimulus for me.

The Unit London (Instagram @theunitlondon)

Why look:

  • A source of inspiration from artists that the gallery supports and follows.
  • A really diverse cross mixture of styles.


We hope that this introduction on finding some juicy source material to inspire your artwork was useful to you. Let us know in the comments below if there are any websites, Instagram accounts or books that you go to to find inspiration! 

Many thanks to T.M.A for the interview. Check out his profile on Pop My Mind or Instagram to see his awesome artwork.