Creative Strategist – Jess Willemse


A collection of my wandering thoughts on design, brands, books, music and the like.​

Book Club: Four books for creative humans.


Growing up I was a little bit of a Hermione meets Rory Gilmore.

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I loved reading, anything from Jane Eyre to Enid Blyton to Lemony Snicket, fiction was my jam. But now, as a kind-of grownup, I read to satisfy a curiosity for information, perspectives as well as storytelling. Today, I want to share with you four books that as a creative human, I have devoured time and time again.

Spark for the Fire by Ian Wharton

I saw Ian Wharton speak at Semi-Permanent Design Conference in 2014. He was a truly inspiring opening speaker and immediately I was intrigued. I wanted to know more. This lead me to order his book, Spark for the Fire off Book Depository the next day. This book basically talks about how embracing youthful thinking can unlock creativity. A quick and satisfying read for dreamers with big imaginations.

A Curiosity of Doubts by Tea Uglow

Again, I saw Tea speak at Semi-Permanent (2016) and honestly, it was one of the best talks I’ve ever seen. You can tell that Tea has a very curious mind that just wanders, and the product of this is insightful and heartfelt projects. Her lecture luckily has also been translated into a short book as part of the Sydney Writers Festival. It basically talks about becoming not just comfortable with, but excited by the idea of doubt. For creatives, this is such a refreshing approach, as doubt and uncertainty are forever present in what we do. I can’t tell you the number of times I thumbed through this during university, it’s just such an insightful piece of writing.

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

I’ll admit, I’ve still got a couple of chapters left to go on this one. But since it’s my latest read, I’m the most excited about it. Sheryl talks about the challenges women still face in attaining leadership roles in the workplace. She covers how we can overcome them, and how our families can support us in these endeavours. She touches on the value of women in the workplace, and the journey we still have left in the search for equality. My favourite chapter is called “Sit at the table.” You can get a quick overview of it here. The statement is basically a metaphor for woman needing to build the courage to reach out for opportunity, be confident in their value and contribute in the workplace.

Graphic Design: A User's Manual by Adrian Shaughnessy

A more design specific book, this one really caters to my style of reading: on and off. I personally like to sometimes dip into a book for a bit of information, then maybe leave it for a while, then pick it back up when I need it. This dictionary-style book definitely caters to that. Written by industry experts, Graphic Design: A User's Manual covers topics from Clichés to Originality, all in a humorous, witty, alphabetical format.

So I hope this has given you guys some ideas on the next book you should check out during your downtime. What’s your favourite creative read? Let me know in a comment below!