More expensive options, in addition to the aforementioned compendiums, are computer books. Creative professionals have to be educated continually on the newest software and programming languages in order to develop relevant and functional design solutions in today's fast-paced and competitive market. Getting a book on HTML 5 or Adobe Creative Suite 6 will not only be much appreciated, it will also let your giftee know that you understand, support and encourage the progression of their career.
If you want to go another direction in regards to books, maybe take a look at the business section. While most of this section is geared towards corporate business and investing, there a few books on entrepreneurial life peppered throughout (helpful hint: try to find the Starting a Business or Marketing sub-sections). Another idea that might be more practical is a book on legal issues and taxes in the small business arena. A note of caution: Creativity is a buzz word that has been trending in the corporate business world lately in reaction to the economic downturn. In other words, many companies are being forced to find creative ways to keep their business running in tough times and not necessarily utilizing more creative professionals or implementing the artistic process (besides drawing on napkins). Just make sure to do your research before you purchase...or get gift receipts!
Magazines:While these printed publications are still around, they make a great gift idea. Take a trip though the the periodicals at your local news stand, find some exciting magazines or maybe purchase a year long subscription to a quarterly art rag. A single issue fits nicely into a stocking, lightly rolled up around that care package of pens and highlighters from the previous post! Art and design magazines aside, current world events are also very important for the artist to stay educated on. Thus, a magazine like Time (a weekly publication) will surely keep your creative professional up to date on current trends as well as offer a worldly perspective that should theoretically transcend the social commentary of their visual work. This is also a great opportunity to break the rules a bit and "judge a book by it's cover." If you come across a magazine with an eye catching cover illustration, it might be worth your while to get it as a gift. Artists tend to appreciate quality illustrations in print form as we are naturally respectful fans of our profession (I can personally testify to collecting magazines that include artwork by some of my favorite illustrators).
Entry fees:Some very reputable publications hold annual art contests with an open call for entries. The artist, if he or she would like to submit their work, simply pays the entry fee and enters their work. Payment of an entry fee to a competition would make very generous gift. I should warn, however, that not all contests are created equal. Keep your ears open to pick up any hints regarding contests or magazines your artist might be interested in. A read though of the contest's rules and conditions will also give good indication of whether or not it is a legit showcase where the artist's rights will be protected and ownership of his or her work will remain proprietary. If you're not comfortable with choosing a contest, an extremely generous gift this year would be the payment of membership fees of an artists union (e.g., Graphic Artists Guild, Society of Illustrators, Freelancers Union, etc.).
Gift Cards:I know the general attitude towards gift cards is that they are as impersonal as it gets as far as gift giving goes. Personally, I love them and I love getting them. As mentioned in the previous post (see Part I: The Don'ts), the tricky part about shopping for a creative person is the fact that they are particular about their tools and materials. Gift cards are an easy way to avoid buying something that won't be used, and ultimately won't be appreciated. And gift cards don't have to be limited to art suppliers. Hardware stores (Lowe's or Home Depot) are great places to pick up materials on the cheap and a gift card can go a long way at one of these stores.
Commission a Painting:The best gift you can give to an artist is the opportunity to work, so why not hire them to do that painting you've always wanted?
Regardless of what you decide to buy as gifts this holiday season, just remember to have fun. You are obviously making the choice to give a gift because you care about whoever it is you're buying the gift for. With the intensified crowds everywhere it can be highly stressful just running to the grocery store to pick up the necessities let alone doing the extracurriculars in retail hell. Hopefully some of these tips will see you through the tough times and remember, if you don't like any of these ideas you can always fall back on berets and black turtlenecks! Once again, best of luck and Happy Holidays!!!