Forty-One False Starts: Essays On Artists And Writers

New Yorker staff writer Janet Malcolm is one of the smarter writers on the subject of writing, and her latest collection of essays reveals insight into the creative processes of writers and artists ranging from photographer Diane Arbus to painter David Salle to Gossip Girl novelist Cecily von Ziegesar to Malcolm herself. When you’re hurting for inspiration, nothing says “motivation” like realizing that other people are out there making important work.

Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections, and Other Obsessions

Feeling flush? Get the limited edition of del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities, a look inside the mind of one of the most imaginative creators out there. The stunning sketches are sure to inspire. If that's not an option, or if you need further convincing, read del Toro's insightful musings on creativity here.

Plotagon screenwriting software

One of the difficult parts of screenwriting is figuring out exactly how to translate the language of black letters on white pages into the visual language of, you know, people actually doing stuff. Plotagon helps with that by quickly and easily creating animated versions of the script, so you can see exactly how breezy and engaging--or, let’s face it, long and boring--your exposition scenes really are.

S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

Abrams’ name immediately conjures up images of lens flare, black-smoke-monsters, Captain Kirk, and other nerd-bait, but his collaboratively written novel, S., shows a more literate and extremely clever side of the filmmaker (and writing partner Doug Dorst). There aren’t two books just like this one, which pairs a supposedly “lost” early 20th-century novel with a second story, told in handwritten notes exchanged by the pair of readers who’ve pored over the book. Anyone looking to see how even the oldest art forms still have the potential to be reinvented should give this one a read.

Call Of Duty: Ghosts

Sometimes the best way to recharge your creative juices is to spend a little bit of time on your couch, zoning out and blowing up imaginary enemies. That doesn’t mean the game is devoid of creative merit--just that the engaging story crafted by Traffic and Syriana screenwriter Stephen Gaghan is something of a bonus.

An Illustrated Book Of Bad Arguments by Ali Almossawi

A lot of Christmases involve arguing around the dinner table, at least as these things go in countless films, and if you’re going to go through all of that, it might be nice to let your meathead uncle know that you can see through his rhetorical tricks. (Now in print form!)

Doritos Locos Tacos

Taste the innovation!
It’s hard to find creative inspiration on an empty stomach, and while Doritos Locos Tacos may not be the most nutritious meal, they’re definitely the result of a creative collaboration.

A “Squatty Potty”

Nobody is at their best, creatively or otherwise, if they’re pooping wrong.

Alternative Movie Posters by Matthew Chojnacki

Sometimes seeing a variety of different ways to communicate the same thing--in this case, “You should really go see this movie”--is the best way to remind yourself that you can approach a given creative dilemma from whatever angle works best for you. And the art is gorgeous in any case.

The Sun’s Coming Up ... Like A Big Bald Head by Norman Reedus

If you’ve got a goth-y teenager in your life, then odds are she would be psyched to see The Sun’s Coming Up … Like A Big Bald Head, a book of photos featuring things like people covered in blood, taken by the guy who plays her favorite Walking Dead character.

Super Nintendo Gamer Soap Cartridges

If you know someone who smells bad and has a vintage Nintendo fetish, Yahtzee.

Studio Life: Rituals, Collections, Tools and Observations on the Artistic Process by Sarah Trigg

Trigg’s coffee table art book documenting the interiors of the studio spaces of over 100 artists provides inspiration for aspiring creators to build the spaces and rituals that will encourage their best work.

Beyond: Two Souls

Few game designers push the creative envelope the way that David Cage does, and his latest--starring Ellen Page--could be his best one yet.

McLaren’s Workshop

The National Film Board of Canada’s iPad app captures the spirit of the work of Canadian filmmaker Norman McLaren, providing users the chance to learn the techniques he used--with both workshops and examples featuring 51 of his most popular films.

A Netflix subscription

The handful of people left without Netflix accounts are sadly missing out on some of the best television being made right now: And with House Of Cards returning for a second season soon, and Orange Is The New Black not too far behind, the time is right for you to empower your Kevin-Spacey-and-Crazy-Eyes-deficient friends to binge-watch.

Something from the Offerman Woodshop

Nick Offerman, who stars on NBC’s Parks And Recreation as the avatar of rugged masculinity and old-fashioned values Ron Swanson, is basically the inspiration for the character himself. For instance, Swanson’s affection for woodworking is based on Offerman’s own, and the Offerman Woodshop--staffed by Offerman himself, and a collection of intense-looking young women and men--sells fine handmade objects that empower creativity, including pencil holders, kazoos, and fancy wooden desks.

Final Cut Pro

Is this the year that "friend" of yours vows to make a short film/music video/supercut? This will help.

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work By Mason Currey

Gertrude Stein only worked for 30 minutes each day. Beethoven got inspired in the washroom. Reading about the creative rituals of the world's most famous artists and writers and composers is sure to give you some ideas on how to get in the right frame of mind for optimal creating (or at least provide rationalization for your terrible habits).

Leap Motion

If you know someone whose New Year resolution is to type less, the Leap Motion gesture controller is an option. The technology got a little more interesting this year with the launch of a number of companion apps, like Freeform, which allows you to make 3-D sculptures with your fingers.

Batch 22 Bloody Mary Mix

If you've got a drinker or a food enthusiast in the house, an order of Batch 22 Bloody Mary Mix might do the trick. You're not only providing a delicious beverage opportunity, but creative inspiration--the product was developed by celebrated chef Marc Forgione and the name is derived from the fact that it took 22 tries to get the packaged formula as perfect as the version they serve in Forgione's restaurant. A boozy lesson in the value of iteration.

Hövding Invisible Bike Helmet

For Euro readers (or those planning a holiday trip): For the cycling enthusiast, the Hövding invisible bike helmet, which sits around the wearer's neck until "detonated" by an accident, isn't just a fashion-forward way to protect their noodle. It's a reminder to think different.


The 2013 Gift Guide: What To Get Creatives (And Those Who Want To Be More Creative)

The best gifts for creative-minded folks in 2013.

There’s but one short week until Christmas, which means that your favorite local businesses/the nearest mall/your click-"expedited-shipping" finger are going to get busy in the days to come. But when it comes to buying presents for the creative folks in your life the pressure to come up with something both useful and clever can make this a stressful time of year. For that reason, we’ve assembled this list of can’t-miss presents for creative people of all stripes, and those looking to expand their creative horizons in 2014.

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