14 brilliant Christmas gifts for designers and artists: books, small gifts & tech

We’ve found the best bespoke crafts, helpful tech and latest books on illustration, design & inspiration.

Do you have a creative in the family you're looking to impress with an arty present? Or you’re a creative yourself and you want friends and family to find inspiration for your gifts? Or you’re someone who simply appreciates creative and bespoke gifts – something with a little more thought than John Lewis socks or a Primark Christmas jumper? Then you’ve come to the right place.

This Christmas gift guide is made specifically for designers and artists, including the latest design books, children’s illustrated books, prints, badges and mugs all with wonderful designs relevant to trends from the year.

Take a look at our collection of books, tech and small gifts that designers and illustrators will appreciate.

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo

Shortlisted Shortlisted for Waterstones' Book of the Year 2017, and plastered all over the Tube tunnel walls recently is Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. The book tells stories of real female role models from Ada Lovelace to Malala. Iconic female artists Justine Lecouffe, Lizzy Stewart, Malin Rosenqvist, Martina Paukova and loads more have created beautiful, bespoke full-page illustrations for the book.

Each story is told in the manner, tone and lilt of a fairytale – and using a vocabulary that's accessible to children from ages four to 12 as children move from being read to doing it themselves. Occasional words and concepts need explanation from the an adult, but this encourages discussion and deepens understanding.

Rebel Girls has become wildly popular with parents, teachers and children, so you’ll want to get in quick with this one. See the beautiful illustrations of the book here

Buy Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls for £13.60/US$35 from Amazon.

Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers

Irish born and New York-based, the much-loved children’s author and illustrator Oliver Jeffers has just released his latest book – Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth. Inspired by his own son’s birth, the beautiful book attempts to explain how the world works to a child, and how to treat each other equally with love. It’s already been added to Amazon’s list of best children’s book from 2017 (ages 3-5).

Beautiful, heart-warming and hot-off-the-press, you’ll want this one for your young ones.

For more info, check out this moving interview by filmmaker Bas Berkhout with Oliver Jeffers about making the book.

Buy Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth for £10.99/US$19.23 (hardcover) from Amazon.

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Becoming a Successful Illustrator (second edition) by Derek Brazell & Jo Davies

Carrying on from the first edition, this book features even more advice from practicing illustrators as well as from those that commission them. Topics include how to find clients, agency representation, fields of work, self-promotion, managing your business and meaty legal stuff for anyone looking to become a fully-fledged illustrator.

And of course, the text by Jo Davies (Associate Professor of Illustration at Plymouth University) and Derek Brazell (illustrator) is accompanied by beautiful illustrations by artists including Jessica Hische, Ben Newman, Sophia Chang and this cover illustration by Cachetejack.

This is a comprehensive book, and along with its glossy pages and accessible layout, it’s a winner for anyone you know, including students, seriously considering the profession.

Buy Becoming a Successful Illustrator (second edition) for £24.29/US$36.95 from Bloomsbury.

My Friend Fear by Meera Lee Patel

This beautiful watercolour journal of thoughts, quotes and aspirations about overcoming fear is illustrated and compiled together by Brooklyn artist and author Meera Lee Patel. You might know of her first success – Start Where You Are, a mindfulness book which received high praise from the likes of Oprah.

This new book published by Particular Book explores and challenges the notion of being fearful, and how it can be transformed into opportunity and potential. With Meera’s elegant illustrations and hand lettering, it serves as a reflective text, and assurance that you’re not alone when it comes to feeling fearful. A very thoughtful gift for someone you know well.

Pre-order My Friend Fear: Finding Magic in the Unknown for £13.72 from Amazon. It’s release date is January 2, 2018.

Moleskine Smart Writing Set

Many artists are known to religiously sketch ideas, thoughts and compositions in a sketchbook – from children's book illustrator Chris Riddell to contemporary lettering artist and illustrator Biff – and now the process from analogue to digital is becoming much easier.

This smart writing set pairs a Moleskine sketchbook and Huawei’s Mate 10 Pro smartphone to create a beautiful modern workflow. Artists can sketch in the notebook using the provided pen, as Kelly Anna has done, and this will instantly appear on the screen of the smartphone with a help of a companion app as they draw. This means sketches or ideas can be shared instantly from the app.

Although it’s expensive – the phone costs £699 and the Moleskine Smart Writing Set is £199 – it’s much cheaper than a Wacom Tablet and a brilliant gift for an artists who is constantly buried in their sketchbooks.

Buy the Moleskine Smart Writing Set here.

It comes with a Paper tablet, pen and smart pen, 1 pen tip ink refill, and USB charging for the smart pen.

Buy the Huawei Mate 10 Pro smartphone here.

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Parrot POT

This gift could also apply to 'best unnecessary gift' – or 'smart-tech-gone-too-far'. It’s a self-automated pot plant – which means it comes with a self-watering system and four built-in sensors, each monitoring the wellbeing of the plant around the clock. This definitely isn’t a gift for you green-fingered, eco-friendly enthusiasts (who would be caring for their plants by hand), yet rather the hipster who wants to have house plants but can't be bothered to look after them.

Using the Flower Power App (could the name be any more cheesy?) created by home and garden technology company Parrot, users can be notified when the plant needs water or sunshine via Bluetooth. It can also be programmed to automatically water the plant if it reaches a minimum soil moisture. I suppose the only time this would be handy is if you went away on holiday for a long period of time, but even then I’m sure a good old knock on your neighbor's door or a text to your mother wouldn’t hurt.

Buy the Parrot Pot for US$149.99 here.

Logitech Craft Keyboard

Logitech's new Craft aims to do more for your creativity than your average keyboard. Announced at the IFA consumer tech show in Berlin, the Craft features a dial at the top left that you can use to control parameters in creative applications such as Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Premiere Pro – as well as office software like PowerPoint and Word. Logitech calls this dial a Crown, and it works a bit like Microsoft's Surface Dial for the Surface Pro and Surface Studio (read our Surface Studio hands-on review).

Over the many years we've been writing stories on Digital Arts, we've seen a wealth of different input devices that essentially replace what you might do with a mouse – pads, tablets and screens that you manipulate with your fingers or a stylus from traditional Wacom tablets to apps that turn your iPad into a Cintiq.

But the humble keyboard has largely remained the same. Learn more about this one here.

The Logitech Craft costs £179/US$199.99. You can buy it from Logitech here (UK) or here (US).

East End Prints

Buying a print for someone can be a risky move if you don’t know their taste well, but it can be a brilliant idea if you manage to get it right – and we’re sure any designer or illustrator will appreciate if you put in the effort.

East End Prints has an online store of beautiful framed art prints for you to choose from for men, women and children at affordable prices. Make sure to order before December 18 so it can be delivered on time. If you’re in London, the store doesn’t close till 8pm so you can head down after work, and there’s good news – the store is permanently moving to the more convenient Brick Lane in the new year.

Take a look at their collection here.

This print is called Frida 2 for £19.95.

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Made By Folk

Another great Scotland-based print store, Made by Folk has some awesome prints for reasonable prices, including a limited edition Star Wars series (for your nerdy friends), lego inspired prints and old-school alphabet prints.

Take a look at the Made by Folk collection. Note free shipping in the UK.

Art on a Postcard Christmas Card

From the Art on a Postcard team, along with artist Ben Eine and Jealous Studios, this is the ultimate for-a-good-cause gift.

The one-colour screen print on a hand finished spray-painted background is a thoughtful and beautiful Christmas card, and if you buy the card twice (once for your friends and once for charity) money raised goes to The Hepatitis C Trust, and its goal to eliminate hepatitis C by 2030.

Each card is unique. They will be signed by the artist on substantial Somerset Satin 410gsm white paper and will come in an individual sleeve along with a certificate of authenticity. The sleeves come in a choice of two colours with a space to write a personal message.

Buy Ben Eine’s Ultimate Christmas Card for £50 from Art on a Postcard.

You can also purchase Art on a Postcard 2017 box sets (100 postcards), with all the designs from this year’s campaign for £19.95.  

Christmas Jumpers

If you want a unique, quality Christmas jumper (none of those tacky Primark ones) then Sarah J. Coleman – aka Inkymole – has you sorted. We featured her beauitufl Christmas wrapping paper last year in our roundup, but this year she’s gone a step above with her beautiful collection of Christmas jumpers – with everything from snow flakes to the face you get on Christmas morning (seen here).

These jumpers are handmade in Britain, with a 1-2 day turnaround.

You get 20 percent off the final price until December 14 with the code INKYMOLE20.

Check out the different designs for £44 each in her online store.

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Saatchi Gallery

For £12 a year, you can give your creative friend or family member Saatchi Gallery Membership – one of London’s contemporary art gallery opened since 1985. Membership will include invitation to private views of exhibitions, to artists’ talks and debates, tours, and discounts off gifts from the Saatchi, food and drink and prints.

We think this is pretty good deal for UK residents. Order before December 19 for Christmas delivery to the UK.

Become a Saatchi Gallery member for £12 here.

Pantone Colour of the Year 2018 mug

The colour of 2018 has just been announced by Pantone – this time it’s Ultra Violet, paying homage to Prince and Bowie, and drawing on our desire to look to the future – perhaps to paint a rosier picture than the present perils of Trump and Brexit.

The company also links purple to mindfulness - the practice of mentally dealing with horrible things in life you can't change - noting that purple is often used to light meditative spaces. Again, this is based on the concept of the awful present that - if it can't be changed - needs to be processed to avoid anxiety.

As with previous years, you can buy a mug based around Ultra Violet.

See our full story on Ultra Violet here.

Buy the Pantone Colour of the Year mug  for £22.80 in the UK here and for $25 the US here.


Digital Arts editor Neil Bennett helped to judge the winners of this year’s Best Button Badge Design competition, and there’s some winners in there. From a hipster glasses-wearing avocado to a ginger-bearded man, these little badges each have funky designs and make a great small gift for both male and female creatives. Stereohype’s annual competition recognises individual and series designs, which can all be purchased online as either a badge or print.

See our story for the top winning designs of 2017.

Take a look at all the new badge designs on sale here, selling at only £1.50 each.

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