Rattycatcat’s Five Favourite Creative Reference Books

I love books, especially big coffee table hardback books with lots of pictures! When I’m stuck for ideas for my drawings and prints I flick through my beautiful picture books – they’ve never failed to get my mind thinking in a different way or heading down a different road to where it was originally. I’ve created a list – albeit a little one – of the books that have helped me the most.



1. Alexander McQueen – Savage Beauty

‘I want to empower women. I want people to be afraid of the women I dress.’

This book is just amazing. I bought it at the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. It’s not too word heavy, although there’s a really nicely written and comprehensive preface written by the curator of the Savage Beauty exhibition, Andrew Bolton.

The best thing about this book is the photography of McQueen’s designs. The models have all been edited to look like mannequins, ensuring that your focus is purely on the designs themselves, which of course are just stunning.

This book is particularly useful for me when I’m drawing people. I like my characters to have a bit of an edge and strong, alternative women are of real interest to me. Looking through McQueen’s designs provokes me to look at my illustrations from a different angle and his way of thinking really inspires me as an artist.


Photograph of a page from the book 'Alexander McQueen - Savage Beauty'
Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty – ‘It’s Only a Game’



2. The Art of… – The Studio Ghibli Collection

These books go alongside the Studio Ghibli films. Each film has a corresponding book featuring film stills, concept sketches and character designs by Hayao Miyazaki and the other artists who worked on the films.

I use these books as reference when I’m drawing girls in a particular style. There’s a really nice shape and innocence to the way the characters in the Ghibli films are drawn. In particular, Ponyo and Little Mai (My Neighbour Totoro) are particularly important character references for me. I like my own drawings to have elements of that innocence whilst simaltaneously contradicting it.


Concept Design of the character Ponyo from the Ghibli film
Page from ‘The Art of Ponyo’ – Studio Ghibli Collection




3. The Cream of Tank Girl – Hewlett and Martin


Again, this book is mostly concept sketches by Jamie Hewlett from both the comic books and the film. It also contains a lot of the comic book covers as well as Tank Girl in various styles.

Tank Girl is one of my idols. I think she’s amazing. I love the anarchy and raw energy that she carries and I try to channel it whenever and wherever I can.


Illustration of Tank Girl and image of the script from the film 'Tank Girl' starring Lori Petty
Script from the Tank Girl film and an illustration of Tank Girl from ‘The Cream of Tank Girl’
Illustration from the book 'The Cream of Tank Girl' by Hewlett & Martin
Character Design of the Rippers from the film ‘Tank Girl’







4. The New Art of the Club Flyer – Craig McCarthy


This book is a collection of flyers from club nights, gigs and past nights that McCarthy has collected over the past decade. It contains a lot of raw graphic design, collage and some really innovative illustration. It’s a great book and I use it a lot to remind me to think outside of the creative box that I tend to build for myself.


Cat and Woman illustration
Illustration from ‘Art of the Club Flyer’ by Craig McCarthy
Art of the Club Flyer - Top 5 Creative Books by Rattycatcat
Illustration from ‘Art of the Club Flyer’ by Craig McCarthy







5. The Wes Anderson Collection – Matt Zoller Seitz

This is a beautiful looking book. I’m a really big fan of all of Wes Anderson’s films. I love the stylised way he shoots and the slightly surreal story lines of his films. I feel like you’d be able to tell a Wes Anderson set or prop a mile away!

The book features film stills, photographs of sets and from behind the scenes as well as in-depth information about all of his major films, although it was printed before The Grand Budapest Hotel was released.

I’m able to look at the sets from the films and see how they were made, which interests me as a prop maker. I can also look at the set designs and concept illustrations featured in this book and incorporate the designs and styles into my own work.


Wes Anderson 'The Life Aquatic' Set Design
Set & Set Design from Wes Anderson’s ‘Life Aquatic’


You can’t underestimate the power that books have on a creative mind! Use them as reference or inspiration, as it’s so important to draw upon the things that interest you. Everyone has different ranges of passions and interests that they can draw on – think of the number of combinations there are to create!