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10 Ways to Get Free Art Books

Written by: | Published: August 31, 2015 | Updated: September 01, 2015

I love art books. Coloring books, Art History books, books about different artists and books about creating different kinds of art… I love them all! One of my favorite places to find artistic inspiration is in the book store. Nothing compares to holding a book full of art or browsing the covers in the art section. My local Barnes & Nobel has a huge art and craft section that I could easily spend hours browsing. I can never seem to leave with just one book. I still have my books from college and design school… but I still love to see what’s new in the design and art software sections too. So Much Art Inspiration!

10 ways to get free art books
10 ways to get free art books

Note: This post is sponsored by the Barnes & Noble MasterCard, powered by Barclaycard. All opinions are my own.


10 Ways to get free Art Books

Aside from bartering and browsing a friend’s bookshelf, there are plenty of ways to get a hold of more art books for less money. Here’s some inspiration for you. Instead of simply buying books, buy books that will give you cash back… so you can buy more books!

Start off with the Barnes & Noble MasterCard and earn rewards toward free books. If you are looking for ways to save when buying books or maybe you want free books, you’re going to want to check out the Barnes & Noble MasterCard to earn 5% cash back on BN purchases, a $25 BN gift card for signing up and a $25 gift card for every 2,500 points earned. That means you could earn free books (via BN gift cards) buying any of these awesome art books I found (or whatever other books you find…)

  1. Buy art books
  2. Buy sketchbooks
  3. Buy art reference books
  4. Buy groceries
  5. Buy art supplies
  6. Buy more paper
  7. Buy art museum memberships
  8. Buy more paint
  9. Buy more books about art
  10. Buy gas to go buy your art stuff

Ok, now before you say you think I’m crazy. I am, I know, but really I’m also serious. If you are buying all these items already… why not earn rewards towards more art books with purchases you are already making AND earn 5% cash back on the purchases you make through BN stores and You’re already shopping.. why not get something back?

If you need inspiration for the kinds of things you can buy at Barnes & Nobel stores (or at, I have some favorite art book finds for you right now… follow me!

1. Sketchbooks – BN carries a wide variety of sketchbooks and books with prompts for artists and writers. Flipping through the pages makes me want to sit in the middle of the store and start drawing! Although I didn’t get a picture of it, you’ll just have to trust me… there was an entire shelf of just sketchbooks… one for every day of the week if you want. YAY sketching.


2. Drawing guides and books – there are so many resource guides and how-to reference and instruction books for everything you might want to know about the art technique of your choice. I know we like digging up DIY information online (hello, welcome to my website), but there’s a bit of extra usefulness in being able to dog ear a page, reread the information while sitting in the front yard.. you and your iced tea and pink highlighter.

Beginner's Guide to Drawing Book
Beginner’s Guide to Drawing Book

3. Buy art kits and art books for kids – did you know Barnes & Nobel has a great selection of DIY craft/art kits? head straight to the craft section.. you won’t want to come home empty handed!

Drawing lab - drawing kit
Drawing lab – drawing kit

4. Buy books about art, art history and books about artists in history – just the covers alone have me spinning with ideas for days. Art history, walking through the history of art is an amazing experience. We have it so easy right now with all the tools… I think sometimes that makes it so much more difficult to create. Open up a book about some time period and learn yourself something about art of the time. Challenge – try to apply a technique or a material from a specific time period and see how it changes your perspective on how you create today.

The Story of Art book
The Story of Art book

5. Reference guides and tools – I know I mentioned resource books earlier, but this is a different kind of resource. This book is filled with different color pallets and color combinations… that’s all. Sit and flip through that for a while and see if you don’t walk away with a new idea! I did not bring this book home, but I am going to tell Santa about it, incase he is looking for ideas!

Color index - color pallet guide
Color index – color pallet guide

6. Art education and instruction manuals – When I started in college, Photoshop was barely brand new and Illustrator was a line art only program.. you couldn’t even draw in color, everything was just line work and then you could preview the color concept. We also didn’t have massive books like this to learn from. Look at all these books, just to learn Photoshop – you lucky lucky art student you!

Photoshop and other design books
Photoshop and other design books

7. Bargain books – then there are the bargain books and YES there are art books and art kits in the bargain book section at Barnes & Nobel. Hooray! We buy a lot of the kid’s friend birthday gifts right from this section… it’s full of amazing fun. Now, if I can buy a birthday gift, inspire creativity AND get 5% cash back… ok, thank you.

Art books in the BN bargain section
Art books in the BN bargain section


PLUS – even more ideas of things you can buy to earn rewards towards cash back and more free art books.

8. Magazines – so many magazines including a great selection of DIY themed publications

9. Kids books – The kids book section is amazing and so is the toys and games. You can find some great family game night entertainment in the BN store toy section!

10. Nook – whether online or in store, there are a ton of choices for art lovers…

Barnes  Noble Mastercard
Barnes Noble Mastercard 

To apply, visit


Card benefits:

  • Get 5% back when you use your Barnes & Noble MasterCard to buy school supplies and textbooks at any Barnes & Noble store or at
  • Receive a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card after your first purchase with the card.
  • Receive an additional $25 Barnes & Noble gift card every time you reach 2,500 points.
  • PLUS No annual fee for the Barnes & Noble MasterCard.
  • Earn 1 reward point for every $1 spent on all other purchases (excluding Barnes and & Noble purchases), even for everyday purchases like gas and groceries
  • Complimentary FICO® Credit Score

Fun fact: 

Average cost for books and supplies last year was $1,225 at public colleges and $1,244 at private colleges*. Using the Barnes & Noble MasterCard for those purchases at campus Barnes & Noble bookstores or at could give you an immediate $60 savings. (Source: The College Board’s Trends in College Pricing Report.)


For more information about the Barnes & Noble MasterCard, or to apply, visit

To find your local Barnes & Noble store, or shop online, visit





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Jen is Passionate about Creativity. She is the owner and "doodle in charge" of JGoode Designs, a Denver based design studio. She is an illustrator, mixed media artist and creative lifestyle blogger. Jen has been a creative professional since 1998 but says she's been an artist since she was old enough to eat glue.

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