Blog | The War of Art

In various lectures I’ve given over the years, I often slip in recommendations for a few of my favourite business books for architects. What sets these books apart is that none of them are actually about or by architects. That’s not to say there aren’t some great books that merge business and architecture, but I believe strongly in the need for us to learn about business from beyond our educational horizon.

As you’ll see, I’m particularly interested in the worlds of technology and startup entrepreneurship, disciplines that relentlessly question their methods of production. I also prefer books with strong narratives, that match the weight of their instruction with equally engaging storytelling.

So here we go, the third of eight of the most influential books on my thoughts about architecture, creativity, business and entrepreneurship:

The War of Art; Steven Pressfield; Business; Book

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, 2011

A contemplation of what it takes to be a professional artist.

Why I like it:
This is a short book, not even 180 pages, which makes it quick and easy to read. But its brevity only proves that some of the best ideas are the ones most rapidly communicated. Pressfield provides some profound thinking about the value of discipline in the professional artist’s war to overcome her greatest foe: internal resistance.

Fun fact:
Pressfield quotes early 20th Century British playwright, William Somerset Maugham, who was once asked in an interview whether he wrote on a schedule or only when struck by inspiration. Maugham responded, “I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”

Why architects should read it:
Pressfield hangs some vivid language around the benefits that consistency brings to an artist’s practice, and discusses the personal journey she must go on to overcome the many forces arrayed against creative success.

In architecture, many of us begin our businesses in the evenings and on weekends, toiling away on private jobs while working for others. This contradicts the spirit of Pressfield’s core message but it was certainly the case for Mihaly Slocombe. This book made me realise how important it was that we were simply available in those early days, months and years, poised and ready for the phone to ring.

Stay tuned for the next article, where I share another of my favourite business books for architects. An archive of the series can be accessed here.


  1. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, 2011