10 Essential Card Decks and Books for Creatives

Card decks:
Oblique Strategy Cards by Brian Eno & Peter Schmidt

A device for breaking mental habits, these cards were created by ambient legend Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt in the 1970s to “unstick” their creative process. Oblique Strategies are a favorite of Calvin Harris, MGMT and Coldplay and they were even used by Eno and David Bowie while recording “Heroes.” These are the most abstract of any deck with only a few phrases of text per card, but they work!

IDEO Method cards by IDEO

This reknown design agency created one of the best and most useful card decks yet. These lean more towards product development and design, but the concepts are tried and true. From “body storming” to “behavioral mapping.”

Holstee Reflection Cards by Mike and Dave Radparvar

I learned about these from Tim Ferriss and Matt Mullenweg‘s recent podcast conversation in Antarctica. In a sea of half-baked creative cards and prompts, these provide excellent conversational cues for interviews and discussions. Simple and actionable.

Method Kits by Ola Möller

Great for more business-focused product and team development. they offer a vast suite of different card series and innovative activities to apply the cards. Used by everyone from Apple to the Swedish Government.

Morgan Page Quick Tips

Quick Tips are bite-sized techniques to grease the wheels of resistance, reduce complexity, and make creative work more fun and productive. This is a complete toolkit of highly actionable cards designed to keep the creative process fresh. Unlock your creative potential, demystify the process, and create better art through better workflows. I designed these to be more actionable than reading a book and more visual than the Oblique Strategy Cards.

Mixing With Your Mind by Michael Paul Stavrou

This book changed the way I think about music – especially the philosophy of engineering. He expresses musical information as voltage, and how you can create more convincing illusions with less voltage is key to mixing records.

Maarten Vorwerk – Tip of The Week – Vol. 1 & Vol 2

Largely known as the world’s biggest ghost producer, Maarten wrote down weekly tips and converted them to book form. Many are engineering and mixdown focused, which feels like his specialty – but he also covers business deals and personal philosophy.

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

Absolutely essential book that will change the way you think about art and how to structure your environment and workspace to create better work.

The Artist’s Way – By Julia Cameron

Morning pages and artist dates are two of the most essential parts of my creative process. This book is responsible for more GRAMMYs and Oscars than any other resource I’ve come across. It’s all about clearing the cobwebs of everyday life and putting in a daily discipline to achieve a better creative flow state. The Artist’s Way and Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Workweek changed my life and helped me create music for a living.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

Pressfield’s concept of resistance is essential to understand the obstacles you will face as an artist. It’s a battle for your mind, and understanding how to navigate this war is crucial for success. Gear, money, and fame will not help you, but this book will illustrate how to defend your creative self for a more sustainable and enjoyable career.

The Great Mental Models by Shane Parrish / The Knowledge Project

Elegant three part book series by Shane Parrish who also produces an amazing weekly podcast interviewing thought leaders. Each breaks down complex concepts and mental models in plain and understandable language

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