The 38 best graphic design books on branding, logos, type and more
The best graphic design books for insight and inspiration, wherever you are in your career.
Logo and branding books
Typography books, how to be a graphic designer, design theory and history, designer monographs, ideas and inspiration.
The best graphic design books are a great way to learn more about graphic design as a craft and industry. There are books that examine theory, delve into graphic design history, provide insider knowledge and anecdotes or offer inspiration and career advice.
Some of the best graphic design books are essential reading for those starting out, but others can provide valuable ideas for experienced pros looking to develop creative thinking or critique aspects of the industry. So wherever you're a budding graphic designer or a veteran, there's always going to be something to pour over. And if you know a graphic designer, the best graphic design books can also make great gifts.
With over ten years covering graphic design, we've seen a lot of titles, but we asked our contributors to select their favourites to come up with an ultimate selection of the best graphic design book, from studies on theory and history to monographs, collections of thoughts and ideas, and even tributes to individual typefaces.
We've included both classics and new titles, many of them written by graphic designers, and we've aimed to select books that are informative, insightful and enjoyable to read too. Many of them are also great pieces of design themselves. To make it easier to navigate, we've divided the list into sections. Click on the links above to head straight to the best logo design books, best typography books, books on becoming a designer or titles that offer ideas and inspiration. For each book, you'll find direct links to the retailers that have the best price.
For more top titles for your bookshelf (or your e-reader), check out our guides to the best branding books , the best drawing books and the best art books . And if you need to upgrade your toolkit, see our guide to the best software for graphic design .
The best graphic design books
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01. Designing Brand Identity
Our expert review:
Reasons to buy.
Alina Wheeler’s best-selling guide to branding is both a design classic, and relevant to a modern audience (it's been updated five times). We think it's quite brilliantly put together. As design guru Paula Scher says: "Alina Wheeler explains better than anyone else what identity design is and how it functions."
The book is split into three sections: brand fundamentals, process basics and case studies. It provides in-depth guidance for both designers and entire branding teams, walking you through a universal five-stage process for brand development and implementation. This latest version includes expanded coverage of social media cross channel synergy, crowdsourcing, SEO, experience branding, mobile devices, wayfinding and placemaking. There's also a foreword from Design Matters podcast host Debbie Millman.
02. Branding: In Five and a Half Steps
Anyone thinking of working in branding, or already doing it, should read this book. Famed British designer Michael Johnson divides the branding process into five key steps: investigation, strategy and narrative, design, implementation and engagement. But he doesn't oversimplify: indeed, he acknowledges the non-linear nature of branding with a crucial half step, which marks the fluid relationship between strategy and design.
A no-nonsense, six-question model structures the first half; the second part analyses the design process, using over 1,000 brand identities around the world as examples. We think this thoughtful read will give everyone from novices to veterans a lot to reflect on about how they approach their practice.
03. Logo Modernism
This book is less of a fireside read and more of a reference book, but we found it no less compelling for it. Bringing together around 6,000 trademarks, Jens Müller examines the distillation of modernism in graphic design and how these attitudes and imperatives gave birth to corporate identity. These inspirational designs are organised into three chapters – geometric, effect and typographic – and provide a comprehensive index to inform your own work. Anyone working in logo design will get a lot out of this book.
04. Logo Beginnings
This new Taschen graphic design book by the same author is even more fascinating, delving into the history of logo design from 1870 to 1940, with thousands of examples. The book is a real treasure trove of historic logos and a treat for any graphic designer, with almost every one of the more than 400 pages packed with examples arranged in chronological order and by theme.
The themes chosen include symbols with people or landscapes, geometric shapes such as circles. It's a fascinating overview of how trends have evolved and logos have (generally) become more simplified over time. Müller even tracks down the first registered logo in the US – an eagle holding a paintbrush against the Chicago skyline for the paint maker Averill. Curiously, the oldest logo Müller finds in Europe – a 1875 design for the British brewery Bass – looks incredibly modern.
05. 50 Best Logos Ever
To create great work, you need to know the great work that came before. In this inspiring book, leading branding and identity design experts come together to offer a definitive list of the 50 best logos ever. It's a groundbreaking book that also explains how each example was created, bringing together a lot of useful and inspiring back stories in bite-size pieces. Find out if your favourite logo makes the cut, and how it came about in the first place.
06. The Visual History of Type
Written by the artist Paul McNeil, this graphic design book is a treasure for anyone seeking to understand the evolution of typography. The Visual History of Type covers from the advent of printing in the fifteenth century right up to the present day, examining 320 iconic typefaces in chronological order to help us understand how they evolved. It looks at the history of each typeface and its distinctive features, providing historic examples and offering detail of interest both to professionals and anyone who wants to gain an appreciation of type design.
07. The Elements of Typographic Style (v4)
First published in 1992, this history and guide to typography from typographer Robert Bringhurst is a design industry classic. Leading typographers Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones call it "the finest book ever written about typography", and we can see why from the moment we open the pages.
It's a beautifully written manual combining practical, theoretical and historical information. But it also goes deeper, and shares a thoughtful philosophy and understanding of typography. That's not to say that it's heavy going. Indeed, the appendix of the Latin alphabet and its characters is a great piece of eye-candy all designers will adore. Plus if you reference this book smartly in the company of other creatives, you'll probably be taken that little bit more seriously.
08. Drawing Type
Reasons to avoid.
Creating your own type designs is a great way to understand typography in general. And whether you're doing it as a fun side project or ultimately want to earn some serious money as a type designer, this book by Alex Fowkes can help get you started.
Part inspiration and part workbook, it features a host of real-world projects and sketchbooks of well-known type designers, including interviews about their processes. Note, though, this isn't a straight 'how to' guide: more of a mixture of insight and inspiration.
09. Why Fonts Matter
Type choice isn't random, but there are so many fonts to choose from, where do start? If you're finding it a challenge, this book by graphic designer and typographer Sarah Hyndman may be of help. It explores the science behind font design, and uncovers why different styles provoke different reactions in people. Apparently, fonts have the power to even alter the taste of your food. An interesting read with insights you won't find elsewhere.
10. Just My Type
The right font choice can make or break a design. But to understand why certain typefaces resonate with people, you need to understand their history. And that's exactly the subject Simon Garfield's book Just My Type explores. Even if you think you already know it all, this fantastic book might teach you some new things about why the greatest fonts work so well, and give you a fresh new perspective on type design.
11. Futura: The Typeface
Futura: The Typeface was published to mark the 90th anniversary of the world's permanently modern-looking second most famous sans serif. It's a detailed, very beautiful tribute with a surprising amount of interesting trivia – did you know Futura was the first typeface on the moon?
Our reviewer loved the sense of place and context created by the historical photographs of 1920s Frankfurt. And the book itself is truly a thing of beauty. Luxuriously embossed silvery type shimmers on the cover and sections in the book are divided using simple black shapes in reference to Futura's geometry, creating a playful feel in the process. See our full Future: The Typeface review for more details.
12. Work Hard & Be Nice to People
You've seen his world-famous prints, now read his book. We found Anthony Burrill's Work Hard & Be Nice to People to be sharp and beautifully concise, cutting all the fat from the message, while Burrill's lack of pretension and full heart make this an enthralling read.
The book is basically an inspiring account of what Burrill values in creatives in a re-worked version of his previous book Make it Now, with added material. It might just help you get the best out of your design practice without selling your soul or being horrible to people along the way.
13. Show Your Work!
Even the most talented designers won't get anywhere if no one sees their work. From the author of the bestselling Steal Like an Artist (opens in new tab) , this book offers some pointers on how to solve that by reaching an audience and building a name.
Motion designer and 3D illustrator Hashmukh Kerai (opens in new tab) is amongst the book's fans. "I feel most creative people are too precious with their work, leaving you feeling vulnerable when it’s finally ready to be shared," he says. "Show Your Work! helped me start posting work on social media, allowing for feedback, and moving on to the next project."
14. How to do great work without being an asshole
At university, you learn a lot of design theory, but not so much about how things work in the real world. This book offers pointers on how to navigate agency life in a highly amusing and irreverent manner, but it's also practical. We found its infographics and flow diagrams bring to life creative processes like pitching and giving feedback, and its short, sharp chapters make everything clear and easy to follow.
15. How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul
Here's a great business book that doesn't read like a typical business book. Full of honesty and plain speaking, and low on waffle and jargon, How to Be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul is full of sound advice on getting a design job, setting yourself up as a freelancer, founding your own company, dealing with clients, pitching and loads more. The author, a well-known designer and industry commentator, calls on such luminaries as Neville Brody, Natalie Hunter, John Warwicker and Andy Cruz to help pull together his ideas.
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16. How to...
Veteran designer and Pentagram New York partner Michael Bierut (opens in new tab) released this monograph, which also serves as a manual and manifesto, in 2015. Detailing 35 projects, Bierut – who’s a protégé of design legend Massimo Vignelli (opens in new tab) – illustrates the varied role that graphic design plays in the modern world.
Rough sketches and rejected ideas sit alongside finished work in this beautiful crafted book. Fully updated for 2021, it's packed with insights into the creative process, making it a valuable resource to new and established designers alike.
17. Graphic Design for...
Design theory is all very well, but how do you put it into practice? That's the question that this book sets out to answer. It features several concrete examples in the form of branding campaigns by major design studios, including Studio Makgill (for G. F. Smith), Freytag Anderson (for Fraher Architects) and Ico Design (for David Rowland).
This is combined with illuminating interviews with many of the creatives involved. And as a designer himself, the author knows all the right questions to ask. With the emphasis on creative collaboration and developing designs to work on multiple touchpoints, this is an inspiring and informative guide to modern design. See our full Graphic Design for... review for more details.
18. Work for Money, Design for Love
David Airey, author of Logo Design Love (opens in new tab) , gets a lot of questions about running a design business, and he answers them in this refreshingly, straightforward guide. Touching on everything from the mindset needed to be a designer to taking your first steps in business, this is a must-read for anyone thinking of setting out on their own.
19. Oh Sh*t... What Now?
This enlightening book is one of the best graphic design books for those just out of college or university. Designer Craig Oldham takes a frank, and often irreverently witty, approach to tackling big questions like how to get a job and how to make money from graphic design. He's generous in sharing his own experiences and ideas and provides plenty of practical advice in a down-to-earth way. There are sections on education, portfolios, jobs, working processes and personal development. The only downer is the poor quality binding, which we found fell apart very easily. Be careful turning the pages!
20. A Designer's Art
Known as the godfather of modern branding and one of the most influential American graphic designers of the 20th century, Paul Rand has several books to his name. Here's the best one to start with. A Designer's Art probes deeply into the process of graphic design in general: why it's important; the impact it can have on society; what works, what doesn't, and most importantly, why. A book to be read thoroughly, rather than flipped through.
21. Graphic Design: A User's Manual
Another excellent book from Adrian Shaughnessy, this guide covers everything you need to know to survive and prosper in the ever-shifting world of graphic design. Topics include annual reports, budgeting, kerning, presenting, dealing with rejection and more. An entertaining and invaluable resource, packed with tips on the things you won’t have been taught at design school .
22. Citizen First, Designer Second
This isn't a book for learning the practical ins and outs of graphic design, but it can be very inspiring when it comes to considering deeper questions. Dal Bello explores her own life journey as well as her design journey and how she connects spiritually to her work, and how she ceaselessly questions what she is doing. She delves into topics like embracing failure taking risks and generating empathy as a designer.
23. Graphic Design: A History (third edition)
Graphic Design: A History is an informative and engaging history of graphic design that's been updated for the latest edition. Organised chronologically, the book traces the impact of politics, economics, war, nationalism, colonialism, gender and art on graphic designers working in print and film and with the latest web, multimedia and emerging digital technologies.
Its third edition includes 500 new images, a new chapter on current trends in digital design, and an expanded introduction. This chunky textbook is the sort of thing that should be on every graphic design student's bookshelf, and on any agency coffee table too.
24. The Moderns: Midcentury American Graphic Design
Our reviewer found this beautiful hardback book to be a fascinating read on a key period in graphic design history. It's beautifully illustrated, with more than 300 illustrations and it covers a huge breadth of the work. This allows it to successfully reveal the sense of innovation and experimentation of the time, even in work for rather conservative clients.
The book takes the form of a series of profiles of about 60 key designers whose work across magazines, books, record covers, advertisements, posters, packaging and more shaped the contemporary graphic design landscape as we know it, making it a comprehensive resource for students. See our full review of The Moderns for more details.
25. Grid Systems in Graphic Design
A grid system is an established tool used by print and web designers to create well-structured, balanced designs, and this book remains the definitive word on using grid systems in graphic design. Written by legendary Swiss graphic designer Josef Mülller-Brockmann, this visual communication manual is packed with examples on how to work correctly at a conceptual level. We reckon this is a must-read for any student or practising designer.
26. Ways of Seeing
To create successful work that's designed to be seen, you need to understand how people see things. That's where Ways of Seeing comes in. Written by art critic and painter John Berger and based on a BBC TV series, this bestseller explores the way we view art.
Designer Greg Bunbury (opens in new tab) says the book was responsible for a "pivotal shift" in his design studies. "I began to understand composition and context in every ad I saw," he says. "I recognised the inherent tension that advertising creates, and how to replicate it. But most importantly, it made me want to create meaningful communications: images worth seeing."
27. Interaction of Color
Another longstanding essential on graphic design theory is this classic from Josef Albers, a hugely influential artist-educator who was member of the Bauhaus group in Germany in the 1920s. Albers moved to the US in the 1930s and taught at Black Mountain College before chairing the design department at Yale. Be warned, this is not exactly a user-friendly book for contemporary designers since it advises how to teach colour experimentation rather than try to teach the practice itself. It's also rather lacking in visual engagement for a book on colour, but many designers describe it a lifechanging insight into how colours react interact when seen by the human eye.
28. Now You See it
This collection of over 50 short essays by graphic designer, critic and Pentagram New York partner Michael Bierut covers all kinds of design issues, from how to draw to tributes to designers and listicle-type articles such as “13 ways of looking at a typeface”. We also get insights from Bierut's own reminiscences of his development as a designer.
Bierut's writing has an engaging and witty sincerity to it. Most of the essays were previously published in Design Observer, and they cover a period of around 25 years. When we reviewed the collection, we found them to be smart, meaningful and witty, and. refreshingly they stay away from jargon and design speak. Just note that despite the title, there are few images here. “Seeing” very much means reading in this case. See our more in-depth Now You See It review for more details.
29. Left to Right
Visual communication rests on the power of semiotics, a concept that David Crow examines in expert detail in this seminal book. Dealing with the principles of written communication and its relationship to imagery, and rounded off with an examination of audience understanding, this is a valuable assessment of academic yet essential design theory.
30. Caps Lock: How Capitalism Took Hold of Graphic Design
Capitalism couldn't exist without graphic design, Ruben Pater argues in this intriguing history of the trade. The graphic designer and journalist looks at how labour, branding, marketing, and social media have transformed the design industry, focusing on how invisible systems influence design. In a world in which even rebellion and anti-consumerist strategies are appropriated to serve economic growth, it's an illuminating read. Pater uses clear language and examples to show the links between graphic design and capitalism. We were pleased to find he has some suggestions about what can be done about it too.
31. Graphic Life
Monographs can often be disappointing. While you hope for a recontextualisation of the author's work, often what you get is more of a elevated portfolio. However, Pentagram partner Michael Gericke’s Graphic Life is a refreshing exception. Pentagram's second longest-service partner's 519-page monograph is filled with huge photography, offering an almost architectural experience, but he also reveals the threads that connect the places, stories, and symbols in his work.
32. Two-Dimensional Man
Paul Sahre is one of the most influential graphic designers of his generation, and he lectures about graphic design all over the world. His book, Two-Dimensional Man, is part monograph, part autobiography, part art book and part reflection on creativity. Combining personal essays that discuss the realities of his 30-year career, he proves that throughout highs and lows, humour can be a saving grace. Two-Dimensional Man portrays the designer's life as one of constant questioning, inventing, failing, dreaming, and ultimately making.
33. Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far
Austria-born, New York-based designer Stefan Sagmeister is one of the creative world's best-known and influential figures. His monograph, first published in 2008, revolves around 21 thought-provoking phrases, transformed into typographic works for various clients around the world and has been since updated. Noted designer Steven Heller, art critic and curator Nancy Spector and psychologist and Happiness: The Science Behind Your Smile author Daniel Nettle contribute essays to the book. His second text, Made You Look (opens in new tab) , spans 20 years of his graphic design in depth. The two complement each other perfectly.
34. Malika Favre: Expanded Edition
French illustrator Malika Favre is very much a graphic designer's illustrator. In her own words, her work is underpinned by "grids and geometric structures as a backbone for each composition". So this is a great book for illustrators, but also one of the best graphic design books.
Re-released in 2022 as an expanded edition, this large-format book is divided into some of Favre's most frequent themes, with a big focus on women. Showcasing work from across her career, it features some of her stunning New Yorker covers and erotica, including her Kama Sutra-based alphabet.
35. Now Try Something Weirder
Sometimes find yourself at a loss for creative ideas? Michael Johnson's Now Try Something Weirder is chock-full of prompts and ideas (233 to be precise) based on his own experiences from over three decades in graphic design. It's written in a very readable snappy, economical and jargon-free way that makes it accessible to anyone, not only designers. This isn't a linear, structured book to follow in any particular order – we find it more a book to dip in and out of to benefit from Johnson's observations and advice.
36. Book of Ideas Volume 2
The second volume of graphic designer Radim Malinic’s inspirational journal Book of Ideas is packed with advice on how to make it in the fast-paced creative industries. The designer, who works under the name Brand Nu, shares his musings on creativity and working in design, along with his key career learnings. You can read our full Book of Ideas Volume 2 review for more details.
37. Keep Going
Want a book you can dip in and out of, every time you need a jolt of inspiration? This short and sweet book is a great pick-me-up if you're stuck in a creative rut. It contains practical advice for feeding your creativity, and offers a way to look at your situation or creative problem in a different light. With fun diagrams and drawings too, this is a lighthearted yet considerate look at how to be creative.
38. The Graphic Design Idea Book: Inspiration from 50 Masters
Featuring work by acclaimed designers such as Paul Brand, Neville Brody and Stefan Sagmeister, this book covers all the key elements of great design. Authors Steven Hiller and Gail Anderson hone in on professional techniques and provide a refresher on colour, narrative, illusion, humour, simplicity, ornaments and more, in a way that's instantly accessible and easy to understand.
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13 must‑read graphic design books that will shape your career
A list of must-read graphic design books for both freelancers and design professionals. Get inspired to become a better graphic designer today.
November 23, 2021
Art by Lauren Castro
Looking to level-up your graphic design game in 2022? While there is a wealth of information available online, it can be easy to overlook books as valuable resources for learning more about graphic design. There are hundreds of amazing graphic design books out there, which presents the question: where should you start?
Below are thirteen excellent books about graphic design, covering everything from how to get started in your design career to specific design concepts like typography and grid design. Bookmark your favorites and get ready to supercharge your graphic design career!
1. Thinking with Type
— by Ellen Lupton
Thinking with Type was one of the first graphic design books I read and I still have a copy that I refer to on occasion. The design of the book adds to its usefulness, giving beautifully illustrated examples of exactly how to implement the concepts discussed in the book.
From the publisher:
“Ellen Lupton provides clear and focused guidance on how letters, words, and paragraphs should be aligned, spaced, ordered, and shaped. The book covers all typography essentials, from typefaces and type families, to kerning and tracking, to using a grid.”
2. Now You See It and Other Essays on Design
— by Michael Bierut
Michael Bierut is a partner at Pentagram Design, with work in the permanent collections of everywhere from MoMA to the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. In Now You See It and Other Essays on Design , Michael explores topics ranging from process, inspiration, mentorship, and the history of design.
“In more than fifty smart and accessible short pieces from the past decade, Bierut engages with a fascinating and diverse array of subjects. Essays range across design history, practice, and process; urban design and architecture; design hoaxes; pop culture; Hydrox cookies, Peggy Noonan, baseball, The Sopranos; and an inside look at his experience creating the “forward” logo for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.”
3. How to Be a Graphic Designer without Losing Your Soul
— by Adrian Shaughnessy
If you’re just starting out in your graphic design career, How to Be a Graphic Designer without Losing Your Soul offers up practical advice and guidance on the more theoretical and philosophical aspects of design.
From the publisher
“This new, expanded edition brings this essential text up to date with new chapters on professional skills, the creative process, and global trends that include social responsibility, ethics, and the rise of digital culture. How to Be a Graphic Designer offers clear, concise guidance along with focused, no-nonsense strategies for setting up, running, and promoting a studio; finding work; and collaborating with clients.”
4. Graphic Design Thinking: Beyond Brainstorming
Graphic Design Thinking: Beyond Brainstorming is second of Ellen Lupton’s books to make this list. Lupton is the design curator at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York and pulls from both her own knowledge and experience as well as conversations with leaders in the design industry in Graphic Design Thinking.
“Graphic Design Thinking explores a variety of techniques to stimulate fresh thinking to arrive at compelling and viable solutions. Each approach is explained with a brief narrative text followed by a variety of visual demonstrations and case studies.”
5. Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered
— by Austin Kleon
Not every designer is great at self-promotion. But without effective promotion and marketing, it can be nearly impossible to get enough clients to stay afloat. Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work! gives designers tips and strategies for sharing their work and being seen.
“From broader life lessons about work (you can’t find your voice if you don’t use it) to the etiquette of sharing—and the dangers of oversharing—to the practicalities of Internet life (build a good domain name; give credit when credit is due), it’s an inspiring manifesto for succeeding as any kind of artist or entrepreneur in the digital age.”
Michael Bierut’s graphic design career has spanned multiple decades and this retrospective of those years covers some of his work for the likes of Saks Fifth Avenue, The New York Times, and the Yale School of Architecture. In How to , Bierut showcases 35 of his designs, explaining his philosophy of design along the way.
“In his entertaining voice, the artist walks us through each from start to finish, mixing historic images, preliminary drawings (including full-size reproductions of the notebooks he has maintained for more than thirty-five years), working models and rejected alternatives, as well as the finished work. Throughout, he provides insights into the creative process, his working life, his relationship with clients, and the struggles that any design professional faces in bringing innovative ideas to the world.”
Ready to kickstart your design career?
7. Work for Money, Design for Love
— by David Airey
If you’re just getting started in your graphic design career, particularly as a freelancer, Work for Money, Design for Love is an excellent resource. David Airey, author of Logo Design Love, breaks down the business side of design in Work for Money, Design for Love.
“Unlike other dry business books, this refreshing, straightforward guide from Logo Design Love author and international designer David Airey answers the questions all designers have when first starting out on their own…With this book, David finally answers their pressing questions with anecdotes, case studies, and sound advice garnered from his own experience as well as those of such well-known designers as Ivan Chermayeff, Jerry Kuyper, Maggie Macnab, Eric Karjaluoto, and Von Glitschka.”
8. Grid Systems in Graphic Design
— by Josef Müller-Brockmann
Grid Systems in Graphic Design: A Visual Communication Manual for Graphic Designers, Typographers and Three Dimensional Designers gives a firm grasp of how grid systems work is a vital part of becoming an expert graphic designer, as they serve as the backbone for good design. Grids have been around since the Middle Ages—originally used for typographic layouts, but have been expanded into being used for more general page layouts in more recent years.
“This volume provides guidelines and rules for the function and uses for grid systems from 8 to 32 grid fields which can be used for the most varied of projects, the three-dimensional grid being treated as well. Exact directions for using all of the grid systems possible presented are given to the user, showing examples of working correctly on a conceptual level.”
9. Graphic Design Rules: 365 Essential Dos and Don’ts
— by Peter Dawson, John Foster, and Sean Adams
Whether you’re a graphic design student or a professional designer, Graphic Design Rules gives you practical guidelines for creating better designs. The advice contained herein will help you elevate your designs with clear-cut guidance on everything from typography to creating page layouts.
“Packed with practical advice, this spirited collection of design dos and don’ts takes readers through 365 rules like knowing when to use a modular grid—and when to throw the grid out the window. All designers will appreciate tips and lessons from these highly accomplished authors, who draw on years of experience to help you create good design.”
10. Interaction of Color
— by Josef Albers
Interaction of Color , originally created as a handbook for art education, has been lauded as one of the most significant books on color theory ever written. The newest addition includes more than fifty color studies that appear alongside Albers’ original text to further demonstrate the theories presented.
“Josef Albers’s classic Interaction of Color is a masterwork in art education. Conceived as a handbook and teaching aid for artists, instructors, and students, this influential book presents Albers’s singular explanation of complex color theory principles.”
11. Powered by Design: An Introduction to Problem Solving with Graphic Design
— by Renée Stevens
Good design is about solving problems. It’s no longer enough for graphic designers to simply understand the principles of design. They need to understand how to apply those principles to solve problems that impact their clients and the world around them. This is what Renée Stevens explores in her book Powered by Design .
“Now more than ever, the graphic design industry needs a book that teaches the foundations and theories of design while simultaneously speaking to the topics of history, ethics, and accessibility in order to make designs that are the most effective for all people.”
12. Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team
— by Alina Wheeler
A solid brand identity is an essential part of any company’s marketing strategy. Graphic designers who understand the fundamentals of creating those identities have a competitive advantage in the marketplace and can better serve their clients. Designing Brand Identity is a guide that covers not only the theory behind branding but also the actual process of designing an identity and case studies illustrating how it’s done.
“From research to brand strategy to design execution, launch, and governance, Designing Brand Identity is a compendium of tools for branding success and best practices for inspiration.”
13. Oh, Sh*t… What Now?: Honest Advice for New Graphic Designers
— by Craig Oldham
Honest Advice for New Graphic Designers is a quintessential resource for new graphic designers who are trying to figure out how to start their careers. It covers everything from how to find a job to different ways to make money as a designer and even things like where you might want to live.
“This book is a comprehensive and insightful guide to anything and everything that is of use to those looking to break into the creative industries, sharing experiences, ideas, advice, criticism, and encouragement. With sections covering education, portfolios, jobs/freelancing, working process, and personal development, this straight-talking, funny, and frequently irreverent guide is a must-read for all creative arts students.”
The best graphic design books to read for your career
There are so many more incredible graphic design books on the market, but starting with a few industry stalwarts is a great place to begin. We’re confident the books above will inspire you to become a better designer. Happy reading!
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Looking for great books to use as guide to be a graphic design expert?—Here's my top 10 best graphic design books to read in 2022.
looking for great books to use as guide to help you master everything graphic design—here's my top 10 best graphic design books to read in 2022..
As a creative, I've read countless of books about graphic design, that’s why I decided to share with you the must-have graphic design books in 2022.
What books to buy for graphic designers?
I featured various types of books that will surely fit every designer’s need to become a professional creative.
From basic books for beginners and students to more advanced books for professionals who want to level up—I’ve got you all covered.
I believe that as a professional artist, we must always be open to new learning and knowledge.
No matter how long we work as graphic designers, we still have to learn from experts who made tutorials and guidelines to serve as our reference.
These books that I will enumerate will help you learn the basics of graphic design as well as its history and relevance to us as designers.
These are all essential books for creatives like you, and the best thing is that they are all available online.
You can buy physical book (Hardcover) or you can buy it in eBook version (Kindle).
Most of the books from my list must be included in your book collection if you want to be an expert graphic designer.
So without further ado, here's my list of 10 best books for learning graphic design .
10 Best Graphic Design Books
- How to Use Graphic Design
- Graphic Design The New Basics
- Grid Systems in Graphic Design
- Graphic Design Play Book
- Graphic Design For Everyone
- 100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design
- The Graphic Design Idea Book
- Graphic Design Thinking
- Teaching Graphic Design History
- Graphic Design Rules
Importance of Graphic Design Books
Graphic design books aren't just made for students or beginners ; they're also an important part of continuing to develop and evolve as a designer.
These books include timeless classics as well as contemporary masterpieces about design.
Each one is authored by an expert in the industry and is filled with information you won't find anywhere else.
The books can serve as our guide by allowing us to learn based on the experience and knowledge of designers that are already experts in the field of graphic design.
We can adapt to their mindset and use that as inspiration for us to grow and become professional in doing creative work.
1. How to Use Graphic Design
Michael Bierut is one of the most prolific designers and writers today, and in his book, he shares his perspectives on form and content in design.
A must-have book if you want to master the fundamentals of graphic design.
This book is a comprehensive guide to modern graphic design theory and practice that examines the broad range of design skills.
It covers everything from advertising, corporate identity, graphics for print, graphics for web technology, signage systems, and environmental graphics.
You can learn where to start when designing a project, and how to get (and stay) out of trouble.
In this engaging and insightful volume, Bierut spells out what graphic designers do and how they plan and execute their work.
He starts by asking the basic questions: Who are we? What do we do? Why are we here?
Once he established the basics, he goes on to illustrate how a typical project unfolds: from research to conception to execution.
Along the way, he discusses how to use symbols effectively and persuasively , solve problems creatively with typography and color, bring order to visual chaos, and define brand identity.
The How to Use Graphic Design book is reinforced by hundreds of full-color illustrations that include examples of great design , how to read a brief, typographic scales, how to apply color in effective ways, and much more.
It teaches the important aspects of effective graphic design and will help you become a better designer.
How to Use Graphic Design is definitely the best intro to graphic design book that you can buy today. Buy How to Use Graphic Design on Amazon
2. Graphic Design: The New Basics
Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips revised and updated a book edition which explains the key concepts of visual language that inform any work of design.
A foundational graphic design book for beginners and students.
This is a graphic design book for everyone , so no matter what your design project is, from logos to letterheads to complicated website design—this is perfect for you.
The New Basics has sixteen new pages of student and professional work covering such topics as working with grids and designing with color.
Which is perfect for any graphic design program and any graphic design school.
In fact, The New Basics is one of the best graphic design book for beginners and students .
This book is also an invaluable introduction to the field of graphic design by two accomplished designers and design educators.
It refocuses design learning on a critical, rigorous examination of form foundations informed by modern media, theory, and software systems.
This book teaches students and experts how to use simple relationships between formal aspects of two-dimensional design like point, line, plane, scale, hierarchy, layering, and transparency to create interest and complexity.
It takes a new approach to design education by stressing visually dense, form-based thinking in a way that is up-to-date with current media, theory, art, and technological advances.
The New Basics is intended to become the standard reference work in design education and is an invaluable resource for anybody seeking a clever, inspirational introduction to graphic design.
Buy Graphic Design: The New Basics on Amazon
3. Grid Systems in Graphic Design
Josef Müller-Brockmann , a legendary designer whose work is known for its minimalist designs and clean use of type, forms, and colors, wrote Grid Systems .
A must-own book for graphic designers that want to be experts in grid systems.
The book outlines the operation and use of grid systems with 8 to 32 grid fields that can be utilized for a wide range of tasks, including three-dimensional grids.
Grid Systems focus on established tools that are used by print and web designers to create well-structured, balanced designs.
The user is provided exact instructions for using all of the grid systems that are available, as well as examples of how to work appropriately on a conceptual level.
This book also featured the development of organizational systems in visual communication, which was the accomplishment of the representatives of simple and functional typography and graphic design.
Additionally, Grid Systems is one of the most popular graphic design books that you can buy on the market today.
This book aims to provide tips and suggestions by providing examples and precise instructions to professionals for any grid difficulties that may arise.
The author believed that graphic design is a visual communication that should be understood by viewers , and that grid systems would help designers understand how to arrange and manage their art work.
Buy Grid Systems in Graphic Design on Amazon
4. Graphic Design Play Book
This book by Sophie Cure and Aurélien Farina is a fun and unique introduction to graphic design —it combines puzzles and visual challenges to show how typography, signs, logo design, posters, and branding operate.
A book that provides a fun and interactive way to learn graphic design.
It combines puzzles and visual challenges to show how typography, signs, logo design, posters, and branding operate.
Readers are introduced to graphic art principles and techniques in an interesting and dynamic fashion through a variety of games and activities such as spot the difference, matching games, drawing, and dot–to–dot.
The Play Book has solution pages and a dictionary that provide more explanation and information, and a loose–leaf portion contains stickers, die–cut templates, and colored paper to aid readers in completing the tasks.
The book will appeal to graphic artists as well as anyone interested in learning more about visual communication.
It is illustrated with typefaces, poster designs, and pictograms by renowned designers such as Otl Aicher, Pierre Di Sciullo, Otto Neurath, and Gerd Arntz.
The book’s four sections—typography, posters, signs, and identity—all invite you to jump in, explore, and allow your eyes and hands to lead you on a journey of discovery in the world of graphic design.
So if you’re looking for a graphic design book for you to read while being entertained , the Play Book must be included in your collection.
Buy Graphic Design Play Book on Amazon
5. Graphic Design For Everyone
Graphic Design For Everyone by Cath Caldwell aims to transform your ideas into powerful visuals, connect with your audience, define your brand, and take your project to the next level.
A must-buy book for every graphic designer—beginner and professional.
This highly practical design book walks you through the fundamentals of design , and shows you how to mix them to create visuals that inform, influence, and enthrall.
Through in-depth how-to articles, hands-on workshops, and inspiring galleries of excellent design, you can comprehend the key principles by reading Graphic Design For Everyone .
You can also learn how to build a brand strategy , how to choose the right typeface for the job, and how to organize different aspects of a layout to increase the impact and meaning of your message.
With ten step-by-step projects to help you develop your own amazing designs , including business stationery, invites, sales brochure, website, online newsletter, and e-shop, you'll be able to apply your talents to do it yourself .
There's also a lot of useful information on how to publish online, deal with printers, commission specialists, find free design tools, and so on.
Graphic Design for Everyone is your one-stop resource for becoming an effective, inspirational visual communicator if you're ready to employ powerful design to take your pet project or blossoming business to the next level.
Buy Graphic Design For Everyone on Amazon
6. 100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design
This book by Steve Heller and Veronica Vienne is a thoughtfully curated inventory of abstract concepts that defined and shaped the art and craft of graphic design—each illustrated with images and historical context.
A book that features almost everything about graphic design.
The authors construct the technological, philosophical, formal, and aesthetic constructs of graphic design to provide every creative with a broader understanding of graphic designers' lives.
This book shows how concepts have impacted and defined graphic design , as well as how those ideas have manifested in design objects.
The 100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design are divided into four categories to be able to cater to the specific needs of a designer.
These are: technical (overprinting, rub-on designs, split fountain); stylistic (swashes on caps, loud typography, and white space); objects (dust jackets, design handbooks); and methods (overprinting, rub-on designs, split fountain, paper cut-outs, pixelation).
The book is both a fantastic source of inspiration and a provocative record of some of the best examples of graphic design from the last hundred years.
So if you’re curious about the ideas that changed and improved graphic design concepts over many years, this graphic design book is what you should own.
Buy 100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design on Amazon
7. The Graphic Design Idea Book
This book by Steven Heller and Gail Anderson is broken into sections covering the fundamental elements of design —it serves to illustrate technical points and encourage readers to try out new ideas.
An inspirational book for every graphic designer.
This book includes form, narrative, color, type, and image, decoration, simplicity, and wit and humor for graphic designers.
As a result, you'll get an instantaneous and simple-to-understand guide to expert graphic design approaches.
The Graphic Design Idea Book gives practical suggestions for fueling your creativity as well as a new perspective on your circumstance or creative dilemma.
This is a playful yet thoughtful look at how to be creative, complete with colorful infographics and pictures.
Its visuals and flow diagrams bring creative activities like pitching and giving feedback to life, and its short, snappy chapters make everything clear and simple to understand.
So if you’re looking for an inspirational book that can motivate you as an artist, this is your must-have book.
Buy The Graphic Design Idea Book on Amazon
8. Graphic Design Thinking
In this another essential graphic design book , legendary designer Ellen Lupton critiques the creative process.
A mindset-changer book for graphic designers.
She wrote the book Graphic Design Thinking which looks at a number of strategies for generating new ideas and coming up with compelling and practical solutions.
A brief narrative text introduces each technique, which is followed by a range of graphic demonstrations and case studies.
Lupton's close-up, hands-on method, popularized by her book, makes the creative process accessible to everyone and dispels the misconception that creativity is a natural skill.
Graphic Design Thinking is for working designers, design students, and anyone who wants to apply inventive thought patterns to everyday creative challenges in the design process.
You will learn the design techniques that are grouped around the three basic phases of the design process: defining the problem, inventing ideas, and creating form.
This book will teach you to approach problems through focus groups, interviewing, brand mapping, and co-design.
Buy Graphic Design Thinking on Amazon
9. Teaching Graphic Design History
This book is the first collection of essays, syllabi, and directions for transmitting the history of graphic design's distinctive practice.
A must-read book to learn the history of graphic design.
From standard chronologies to diverse themes generated by today's historians, designers, researchers, and documentarians —this book got you all covered.
By reading Teaching Graphic Design History , you will learn that the history of graphic design and concepts and ideologies.
As well as the history of printing and typesetting had long ignored graphic design, so historians were faced with the challenge of deciding what was worthy and where to focus.
Teaching Graphic Design History is a great choice for creatives that are looking for the best history of graphic design book .
When it comes to teaching graphic design history, this book is a must-have for anyone who wants to learn about the history of sign language, symbolism, and items made for use in the public (and occasionally private) realm.
Teaching Graphic Design History is an invaluable resource for students, practitioners, and future teachers of the field.
It examines the attempts, fortunate accidents, and significant influences of the graphic design practice over the years.
Buy Teaching Graphic Design History on Amazon
10. Graphic Design Rules
The Graphic Design Rules is packed with practical advice delivered in a fun, lighthearted manner, making it ideal for the ever-growing community of non-designers looking for graphic design help.
An ideal book to learn the dos and don'ts in graphic design.
And for more experienced designers , individual entries will either bring forth knowing nods of agreement or hoots of derision, depending on whether or not the reader loves or hates hyphenation.
No matter how many times you ask a graphic designer what their preferred method is for laying out a new design , you won't get the same answer twice.
Regardless of how many strategies one can use to develop a new design project, each creative person has their own unique strategy or combination of techniques.
So, for you to learn your own unique way of designing , this book combines a specific guideline with discussion from a diverse group of experienced designers from various disciplines within the graphic design industry.
Graphic Design Rules is absolutely an ideal choice for designers that wants to have the best graphic design principles book .
You can use it as the source of a daily lesson in how to generate amazing graphic design, with themes like typography, color, layout, images, production, and creative thinking.
If you're starting out in the field of graphic design and want to brush up on your knowledge of typography, color, layout, images, production, and creative thinking, this book is an excellent resource.
Buy Graphic Design Rules on Amazon
Since there are a lot of books about graphic design on the market, it’s hard for creatives to know which book to purchase and read.
That’s why I became inspired to review my 10 best graphic design books to help you figure out what book you need for your specific needs.
This list of my top 10 books about graphic design is a great source of knowledge for all types of designers—regardless of whether you’re just starting or already have years of experience in designing.
I included How to Use Graphic Design for those designers that want to know more about the fundamentals of graphic design.
Additionally, Graphic Design: The New Basics and Graphic Design Rules are great references , especially for those beginners who want to master the basics and rules of graphic design.
This article also featured The Graphic Design Idea Book which is an inspirational book for every designer—both beginners and professionals.
On the other hand, the Graphic Design Play Book , is an ideal book for creatives that want to learn graphic design in the most fun and interactive way.
Now that you’ve learned about the best graphic design books on the market , which one of them will you buy as a graphic designer?—Leave a comment below.
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Jan 22, 2022
10 Best Books Every Graphic Designers Should Own In 2022!
Throughout your career as a designer, books are a crucial way to learn and improve as a designer.
Whether it’s a beautiful cover or a weighty tome on the history of design and its important sub-genres, we all like them as designers. Finding the best graphic design books to read, on the other hand, might be tough. The best graphic design books may transport you to new creative worlds and take you on a mind-expanding journey.
So, whether you’re new to graphic design or an experienced pro, whether you’re looking for some inspiration or want to learn more about how to make your designs more inclusive, I’ve got you covered.
Here are a handful of my personal favourites.
“T here are three responses to a piece of design — yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.” — Milton Glaser
As a designer, I want to improve my abilities by experimenting with new concepts and approaches. So, here are a few books that I think everyone should have.
01. Logo Modernism (Design) by Jens Müller & Julius Wiedemann
Get the book
02. Creative Confidence by Tom & David Kelley
“Good design’s not about what medium you’re working in. It’s about thinking hard about what you want to do and what you have to work with before you start.” — Susan Kare
03. The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier
04. flow by mihaly csikszentmihalyi.
“If no one hates it, no one really loves it.” — Jessica Walsh
05. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
06. grid systems in graphic design by josef mülller-brockmann.
“I’ve never had a problem with a dumb client. There is no such thing as a bad client. Part of our job is to do good work and get the client to accept it.” — Bob Gill
07. Designing Brand Identity by Alina Wheeler
08. the designer’s dictionary of color by sean adams.
“It’s through mistakes that you actually can grow. You have to get bad in order to get good.” — Paula Scher
09. Dot Line Shape by Victionary
10. made to stick by chip heath and dan heath.
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59 Essential Books Every Graphic Designer Should Read in 2023
Books. As designers, we all love them—whether it’s a beautifully designed cover or a weighty tome on the history of design and its major sub-genres. Though, when it comes to books on the topic of graphic design, it’s often hard to find the best ones to read. The best graphic design books can take you on an exciting journey of the imagination and transport you to new creative worlds.
So whether you’ve just started studying graphic design or are a seasoned professional and whether you’re looking for a spot of inspiration or wanting to take a deep dive into how to make your designs inclusive, here are 59 essential reads, expertly curated by our Shillington Teachers and updated for 2022.
These are the kind of books we’d recommend to Shillington students, as they actively research graphic design for their studies and design briefs at our six campuses around the world. From classics of the discipline to the best of new releases, these books should be on every designer’s reading list.
1. Extra Bold: A Feminist, Inclusive, Anti-Racist, Nonbinary Field Guide for Graphic Designers
Potentially the most important book for graphic designers ever. Written by seven designers: Ellen Lupton, Farah Kafei, Jennifer Tobias (who also illustrated the book!), Valentina Vergara, Josh A. Halstead, Kaleena Sales and Leslie Xia, Extra Bold is a design career guide for everyone. Through interviews, essays, typefaces, biographical sketches and projects from contributors with a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds, abilities, gender identities, and positions of economic and social privilege. The zine/self-help manual/comic book/manifesto/survival guide covers theory, history, work and interviews to create this absolutely essential read. It’s what we’ve all been waiting for!
Buy the book
2. The Package Design Book
Published in English, French and German, The Package Design Book is any packaging designer’s bible. A collaboration between publisher Taschen and the Pentawards, The Package Design Book is over 650 pages of the finest packaging that the world has to offer across food and beverages, luxury and everywhere else. It starts off looking at the winners of the Diamond Pentawards—the absolute cream of the crop of packaging design.
3. Graphic Design School: The Principles and Practice of Graphic Design by David Dabner, Sandra Stewart and Abbie Vickress
As the title suggests, Graphic Design School introduces visual design for modern media and breaks it down in a way that’s easy to follow for any student pursuing a creative discipline. Now in its seventh edition, it explains the fundamentals of design in theory and then offers practical examples from modern media, including web, app, social media, magazines, websites and books. You’re introduced to the latest in graphic design software, as well as traditional printing techniques such as risograph and screen printing. There are illustrations throughout, as well as case studies, designer biographies and student assignments for testing skills and concepts
4. Mismatch: How Inclusion Shapes Design by Kat Holmes
Designer Kate Holmes’ Mismatch is an investigation into how inclusive methods can build elegant solutions that work for everyone. In her book, Holmes demonstrates how certain design practices can create exclusion—for example, how colour choices can make an app unusable for people—whilst advocating how design can do the opposite and actually foster inclusion. Through projects and case studies of pioneering inclusive designers, who have often been influenced by their own experiences of exclusion, Holmes shows how inclusion can create innovation and allow design and designers to grow. Crucial reading for the future of design.
5. Logo Modernism (Design) by Jens Muller
Modernist aesthetics in architecture, art and product design are familiar to many. In soaring glass structures or minimalist canvases, we recognise a time of vast technological advance which affirmed the power of human beings to reshape their environment and to break, radically, from the conventions or constraints of the past. Less well known, but no less fascinating, is the distillation of modernism in graphic design.
This unprecedented publication, authored by Jens Müller, brings together approximately 6,000 trademarks, focused on the period 1940–1980, to examine how modernist attitudes and imperatives gave birth to corporate identity.
6. Typographic Systems of Design by Kimberley Elam
Typography is nothing if not a complex beast, tasking the designer to balance so many competing factors including hierarchy, order of reading, legibility and contrast, to name but a few. In this authoritative book, Kim Elam explores eight major structural frameworks beyond the grid including random, radial, modular, and bilateral systems.
Each system is explained and explored to give you a better understanding of these intricate complex arrangements. This, in turn, will help you to fluidly organise your text and images within a structure, combination, variation or a singular structure. A must-read for both students and professionals alike.
7. How to… by Michael Bierut
Protégé of design legend Massimo Vignelli and partner in the New York office of the international design firm Pentagram, Michael Bierut has had one of the most varied careers of any living graphic designer.
In this must-have book, Bierut presents 35 projects that illustrate the breadth of activity that graphic design encompasses today, his goal being to demonstrate not a single ideology, but the enthusiastically eclectic approach that has been a hallmark of his career. Inspiring, informative and authoritative, it’s become the bible of graphic design ideas.
8. The History of Graphic Design Vol 1 & 2 by Jens Muller
Across two volumes and 960 pages, Jens Muller’s History of Graphic Design covers graphic design from 1890 to today. That’s 131 years of the finest that graphic design has and has had to offer.
That sounds like a lot to take in, and it is. But this lovingly conceived reference is organised and laid out in a way that’s easy to digest. Across the two volumes, year-by-year spreads are combined with in-depth features on landmark projects, profiles of industry leaders, and visual timelines of each decade. It all adds up to a must-read for anyone involved in graphic design.
Buy the books: Vol.1 and Vol. 2
9. Make Time for Creativity by Brandon Stosuy
Make Time for Creativity is call to find space for your most meaningful work. Author Brandon Stosuy, co-founder of The Creative Independent, wants to help you find time to express yourself and develop your talents—and this book is how he does it. Taking a breadth of experience from a diverse network of working artists, the author shows how creativity can and should be prioritised in life and work. Make Time For Creativity touches on work-life balance, daily rituals, intentions, meeting goals and even taking time off creativity. A fascinating read that is useful for any designer or creative to learn how to spend their time wisely.
10. 100 Ideas That Changed Graphic Design by Steven Heller and Veronique Vienne
A good idea can change the world, and here are 100 that did exactly that. This fascinating book chronicles the most influential ideas that have shaped industrial and product design. From the origins of modern design in the craft movements of the 19th and early 20th century and the changes brought about by mass production, the book traces the most important ideas in design through the modern movement and post-war consumer society to more recent ideas such as open source and biomimicry.
Arranged in chronological order, each of the 100 ideas is presented through a combination of text and images, which explores when it first evolved and the impact it’s had on the world. Even if you’re not specifically working in product design, it’s an invaluable background for anyone working in design that will help you see the modern world in a whole new perspective.
11. Big Type
Typography fan? Of course you are—you’re a graphic designer! Big Type from industry favourites Counter-Print is a celebration of typography-led design and identity work. Featuring interviews with top agencies such as PORTO ROCHA and detailed descriptions of many of the projects, Big Type is your new go-to for type-based inspiration. It also comes with three different covers in grey, blue and green so you can pick the one which coordinates best with your book shelf.
12. Design is Storytelling by Ellen Lupton
Writer, curator, educator and designer Ellen Lupton has written a playbook for creative thinking. Her book links design and storytelling and shows how, through both, you can bring ideas to life. Design is Storytelling is aptly set out from a narrative point of view—guiding budding and practicing designers alike on how to harness the narrative power of their work. Lupton teaches her readers how to use their design to stir emotions, build empathy, articulate values and convey action. A worthy addition to any designer’s bookshelf.
13. How Design Makes Us Think by Sean Adams
The full title of this book by Sean Adams is How Design Makes Us Think and Feel and Do Things—and that’s no lie. Adams’ book delves in further than just the aesthetics of design. He picks apart how design can convince us of a certain way of thinking, in both an overt and covert manner. Through examples, not just from graphic design but also product design, industrial design and architecture, Adams illustrates how design can inspire, provoke, amuse, anger or reassure us and the reasons why it does this. An important book for designers that will make you consider how to create design with the best intentions—and the responsibility they have to do so.
14. British Rail Corporate Identity Manual
This book collects the many individual sheets of the original 1965 British Rail Corporate Identity Manual into a unique singular volume. Funded by Kickstarter and curated by London-based graphic designer Wallace Henning, this project was a real labour of love and it shows through on each and every page.
Featuring everything from the publicly owned rail provider’s symbol, logotype, lettering and colour palette to guidance on signposting, vehicles, stationery and uniforms, everything is laid out beautifully, and there are accompanying essays and interviews to boot. As a classic case study of a design system that met the test of time, this is a superb source of guidance and inspiration to any modern-day designer.
15. Stitt: Autobiographics by Alexander Stitt
Stitt Autobiographics is a pictorial record of the 50-year professional life of graphic designer Alex Stitt, who has been the hand behind many aspects of Australia’s culture since the 1950s, and has been described by Phillip Adams as one of the country’s most under-recognised creative talents. If you want to discover his account of the how, why and for whom Stitt worked for, then this book uncovers everything, including 1,800 illustrations, comic strips, storyboards and film title frames.
With an eye-catching pink cover, Upstart! is gestalten’s guide to visual identities for start-ups and new businesses. Perfect for both designers and entrepreneurs, Upstart! takes a dive into branding work from across the world—from cannabis dispensaries in Portland to architecture studios in Melbourne. Each project features a detailed description paired with a two page spread of glorious, full colour photos—sure to provoke jealousy and some serious inspiration in good measure.
17. Dear Client by Bonnie Siegler
Maybe this book is in the wrong place, it’s not necessarily for designers. Instead it’s for those who hire designers—but this still means that it’s an important book to have in your shelf. Bonnie Siegler breaks her book into 46 honest, friendly lessons which help to bridge the gap between designer and client. It demonstrates how to approach and talk to creatives—how they will listen and how to listen to them—through humourous lessins such as ‘Don’t Say ‘Make it Yellow” and ‘Serve Lunch During Lunchtime Meetings’. In other words, it teaches you how to articulate your visual goals and set a clear direction—so, designers should probably read it too.
18. Why Fonts Matter by Sarah Hyndman
Fonts have different personalities that can create trust, mistrust, give you confidence, make things seem easier to do or make a product taste better. They’re hidden in plain sight, they trigger memories, associations and multi-sensory experiences in your imagination. This book by Sarah Hyndman—who has joined us for guest lectures at Shillington —opens up the science and the art behind how fonts influence you and explains why certain fonts or styles evoke particular experiences and associations.
19. Type: New Perspectives in Typography by Scott Williams
This selection of typographic design, edited by leading typographers A2/SW/HK, showcases more than 100 carefully selected contemporary designers, including the best examples of their current work, and also features an introduction by Rick Poynor.
20. Watching Words Move by Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar
This legendary document of typographic creativity, after nearly fifty years of Watching Words Move, is now available for the first time as a trade book. New essays by top designers add value even for those already familiar with the original text.
21. What Images Really Tell Us: Visual Rhetoric in Art, Graphic Design, and Advertising by Massimo Mariani
How do images hold and convey meaning? It might sound like an easy question, but there’s a lot more involved than you might think, and it’s a subject that every creative needs to consider carefully. The book examines the metaphors, metonymies, hyperboles and other concepts that inform our visual language and the power of its meaning. It will help you understand images, and thus be able to use them more effectively in your work.
22. Branding In Five and a Half Steps by Michael Johnson
Virgin Atlantic, Think London, BFI, Christian Aid, MORE TH>N—what do you all these things have in common? They were all branded by Michael Johnson, founder of Johnson Banks, and award-winning graphic designer and brand consultant. In this book, Johnson strips down brands to their basic components to help show how and why we might chose one brand over another. Through case studies and over 1000 illustrations, shows how to create the simplest and most compelling brands in, as the title suggest, five and a half easy steps.
23. M to M of M/M (Paris) Vol. 1 and 2
Founded in 1992, M/M (Paris) is the brainchild of French graphic designers Michaël Amzalag and Mathias Augustyniak. Now on its second volume, M to M of M/M (Paris) is an incredible insight into their studio’s radical creative output. Each volume features over 800 images of their projects including their famous work with fashion designers including Alexander McQueen and Louis Vuitton and musicians such as Kanye West and Björk. The books also feature with interviews with some of their fellow creative luminaries, including graphic designer Peter Saville and curator Hans Ulrich Obrist.
Buy Vol. 1 and Vol. 2
24. Look Both Ways by Debbie Millman
Debbie Millman is a designer that needs no introduction. Born out of her excellent podcast Design Matters and 25 years of working in the design business, Look Both Ways is a series of illustrated essays on the intersection of life and design. An examination of the close relationship between design and everyday life, it covers life, art, love, design, tunes, brands, poetry, shame and physics. Each beautifully illustrated essay reveals the magic and wonder of the world around us and a glimpse into the mind of one of the world’s most interesting designers.
25. Extra-Curricular by Jacob Lindgren et al.
Published by Dutch exhibition space, bookshop and office Onomatopee, Extra-Curricular is an exploration of the alternative ways to learn graphic design, inclusing self-organised learning and experiments. Curated by Chicago-based designer and writer Jacob Lindgren, the book is a collection of texts from designers and organisations across the world, including Decolonising Design, James Langdon, Stefanie Rau and more. The book aims to serve as a point of departure for further experimentation and discussion—selling itself as an incomplete inventory.
26. Paula Scher: Works by Unit Editions
This stunning monograph covers Paula’s early days in the music industry as an art director with CBS and Atlantic records; the launch of her first studio, Koppel & Scher; and her 25-year engagement with Pentagram. It also provides an up-to-date look at Paula’s idiosyncratic hand-painted maps, part of her prolific artistic practice that complements her still-growing graphic legacy.
27. Can Graphic Design Save Your Life? by Lucienne Roberts
The second and updated edition of this ambitious book examines the varied and vital relationship between graphic design and health, focusing on work that demonstrates how communication strategies and visual languages are employed to persuade, inform, prevent and ultimately protect.
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28. CAPS LOCK: How Capitalism Took Hold of Graphic Design, and How to Escape From It
Through simple to understand language and some excellent visual, CAPS LOCK unpicks how graphic design and capitalism are inextricably linked. It shows that things that uphold capitalism—banknotes, branding, adverts—would not exist without graphic design. Through case studies, the book shows how designed objects relate to capitalist societies and cultures and examines how designers support and uphold the market economy. To counteract this, CAPS LOCK closes with six radical design initiatives which oppose capitalise thought—to inspire designers to stand against the capitalist mechanisms. A fascinating look at the possible future of design.
29. Grid Systems in Graphic Design by Josef Müller-Brockmann
Originally published in 1999 and now in its 9th edition, this book is a classic guide to graphic design and layout technique, and a must-read for any modern-day student or working designer.
Written by professionals for professionals, this book addresses all of the major problems that can be encountered in the design of grid-based systems and offers precise directions in how to overcome them, along with useful, real-world examples. In doing so, it builds on systems of functional typography and graphic design that have been in development since the 1920s and brings them up-to-date to solve the challenges of today’s designer.
30. Women Design by Libby Sellers
From architects and product designers to textile artists and digital innovators, Women Design profiles a selection of the most dynamic female designers from the modern era, showcasing their finest work and celebrating their enduring influence.
31. Analog Algorithm
A beautiful book designed by Christoph Grünberger, Analog Algorithm is a tool kit to create new forms. The book offers the reader techniques to develop new forms, fonts, logos and patterns dealing with every designer’s best friend—the grid. The fluidity of the book, as both workbook and inspiration, allows designers to find analog forms—with an infinite number of possibilities. Analog Algorithm transforms the designer into inventor, interpreter or curator.
32. Special Edition
Presenting a medley of playful and masterfully crafted designs from around the world, Special Edition focuses on product packaging that stands out for its engaging concept, unexpected choice of material or artistically elaborate design. Tailored to celebrate a unique product or extend a brand, these solutions come often about as the result of a one-off creative collaboration.
33. Start Me Up!: New Branding for Businesses by Robert Klanten
Little brand, big effect: In the age of startups and a new generation of entrepreneurs, corporate design is being redefined through distinctive visual creativity. Never before has there been more enthusiasm surrounding entrepreneurship. Today, young entrepreneurs across the globe are relentlessly developing innovative products and services.
Fresh businesses and social initiatives are appearing in industries ranging from fashion to farming, from high-tech to creative handcraft. These companies are run by passionate professionals who are well aware that following their vision is just as important as continuously communicating their vision’s brand.
Corporate branding works as an extension of a business by visually expressing its concept, so it is no surprise that new stories require a new visual language. Start Me Up! presents a wide range of original examples for inspiration and is a comprehensive compendium of innovative corporate design for a new generation.
34. DESIGN(H)ERS: A Celebration of Women in Design Today
This much-awaited book features the work of 30 talented women, including Jessica Walsh from Sagmeister & Walsh, Verònica Fuerte of HEY, Yah-Leng Yu of Foreign Design Policy Group and doodle artist Hattie Stewart. It also features insightful interviews that bring to light the thoughts and stories behind their successful careers, along with a foreword by Roanne Adams of RoAndCo Studio.
Designed by an all-women team, and covering a wide range of backgrounds, crafts and skills, the work is reproduced beautifully, often across full double-page spreads. All in all, this is a book that serves to inspire and encourage the creatives of the future.
35. Articulating Design Decisions
A truly essential book for any graphic designer whether they’re new to the industry or seasoned, Tom Greever’s Articulating Design Decisions is a practical guide of how to communicate your work to clients and other non-designers. Full of practical knowledge, including principles, tactics and actionable methods for presenting and talking about your designs and the decisions you took to create them. Even handier—the book also teaches you how to teach your clients on how to work with designers.
36. Women in Graphic Design 1890-2012 by Gerda Breuer
Why are there so few women in the history of design? Why do previously well-known women become forgotten, and at what point can someone be considered successful? Do women create differently to men? What effects of the gender debate are noticeable in today’s everyday working life, and are women judged today solely on the basis of their quality of work?
This book prompts a look beneath the surface: with numerous contributions from design historians, programmatic texts and a comprehensive collection of biographies, alongside interviews with internationally recognised female designers such as Irma Boom, Paula Scher, Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, Julia Hoffmann and Tina Roth Eisenberg.
37. Moholy-Nagy and the New Typography: A-Z by Petra Eisele, Isabel Naegele and Michael Lailach
A Bauhaus professor of the early 20th century, László Moholy-Nagy has been largely forgotten in the world of typography, but this book sets out to correct that historical wrong. Featuring recently discovered, previously unpublished materials from the archives of the Kunstbibliothek in Berlin, it explains how Moholy-Nagy and his contemporaries smuggled their avant-garde sensibilities into the commercial advertising world, via a style he dubbed “The New Typography”, changing it forever.
38. Fake Love Letters, Forged Telegrams, and Prison Escape Maps: Designing Graphic Props for Filmmaking by Annie Atkins
The design of graphic objects for film sets isn’t a subject that gets a lot of media attention, but movies just wouldn’t be the same without them. This fascinating behind-the-scenes read looks at how graphic props such as invitations, letters, tickets and packaging are designed in painstaking detail, as Dublin-based designer Annie Atkins invites readers into her creative process.
39. Letraset: The DIY Typography Revolution
A book four years in the making, The DIY Typography Revolution is a comprehensive of Letraset—the rubdown lettering system that revolutionised typographic expression and typography in general. Taking in the full history of Letraset, from its early days as a user-unfriendly wet system to its later glory years as a truly democratic, easy-to-use alternative to professional typesetting, and its present-day revival amongst those who recognise its true typographic excellence. The books combines fascinating relics of Letraset’s past with essays by designers and interviews with some mega fans, such as Mr Bingo and Freda Sack. As with most titles published by Spin, it’s also an absolute delight to look at.
40. The Graphic Design Reference & Specification Book
This book’s subtitle is “everything graphic designers need to know every day” is definitely true. Far from the glossy tomes of design work we see elsewhere on this list, the Reference & Specification Book presents practical knowledge that designers need to know when they’re working—all those little details that can truly make or break a piece of design: how much space to leave in the gutter when designing barrel folds, what proofreaders’ symbols mean and so, so much more is housed conveniently within this book’s 320 pages.
41. Logotype by Michael Evamy
Logotype is the definitive modern collection of logotypes, monograms and other text-based corporate marks. Featuring more than 1,300 international typographic identities, by around 250 design studios, this is an indispensable handbook for every design studio, providing a valuable resource to draw on in branding and corporate identity projects.
42. Mid-Century Modern Graphic Design by Theo Inglis
Mid-Century Modern architecture and furniture has had a huge renaissance in the last few years, so this beautiful designed tome by graphic designer Theo Inglis tries to add Mid-Century Modern graphic design to the cultural zeitgeist. Covering book covers, record sleeves, posters, advertising, typography and illustration, this book covers designers from around the world which showcase the experimentation and energy of the period. Over 600 pages, hundreds of full colour illustrations, Inglis covers everything from the film posters of Saul Bass to Miroslav Šašek’s children’s books.
43. The Visual History of Type by Paul McNeil
Typography is not just a technical craft, but one steeped in history and tradition. Each typeface and type system is fundamentally about standing on the shoulders of giants, and so understanding the history of type will help you to make informed and creative decisions for your modern-day projects. This book, then, contains a comprehensive survey of the major typefaces produced since the advent of printing, from movable type in the mid-fifteenth century to the current period.
Arranged chronologically to provide context, more than 320 typefaces are displayed in the form of their original type specimens or earliest printing. Each entry is supported by a brief history and description of the key characteristics of the typeface. This book is perfect for graphic designers, educators, historians and design students, as well as anyone else fascinated by type.
44. Dot Line Shape
Potentially our favourite title on the list, Dot Line Shape does exactly what it says on the tin. Put together by viction:ary, who always produce the most beautiful of books, Dot Line Shapes gathers up a comprehensive collection of projects, both design and illustration, that use, you guessed it, dots, lines and shapes in clever ways to produce incredible designs. The book showcases the way these most basic elements can be used in the most surprising of ways—with infinite possibilities.
45. Designing Brand Identity by Alina Wheeler
This best-selling guide outlines a universal five-stage process for brand development and implementation. From research and analysis through launch and governance, it provides in-depth guidance on all aspects of the process and describes the best practices that build better brands.
First published in 2009, this book was updated in late 2017 to incorporate emerging trends and technologies. This updated fifth edition now includes new and expanded coverage of social media cross channel synergy, crowdsourcing, SEO, experience branding, mobile devices, wayfinding and placemaking, with 30 all-new case studies of top brands from various industries around the world.
46. Identity: Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv by Alexandra Lange
Identity: Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv showcases a body of work spanning 60 years from the seminal New York design firm founded in 1957 by Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar. The firm’s contribution to design has shaped the way corporate identity programs influence culture.
47. Indie Type
The ultimate source of typographic inspiration, Indie Type is an exploration of innovative, aesthetically pleasing and adaptable typefaces that have been used in projects across the world and a scope of different languages. Designed by Pan Yuhua, the book also features interviews with 5 typeface designers who delve into the processes behind designing a typeface, including how it was created and how it can be used in a design. Looking for a typeface that’s out of the ordinary? Then this might be the perfect book for you.
48. A Dictionary of Color Combinations
A Dictionary of Color Combinations was originally published in 6 volumes in the 1930s by Sanzo Wada, a Japanese artist, teacher, costume and kimono designer. Way ahead of his time, the work that Wada developed blended traditional and Western colour combinations, laying the way for contemporary colour research. This beautifully designed book offers 348 groundbreaking colour combinations, relevant now as they were 90 years ago.
49. Print Matters: The Cutting Edge of Print
In an attempt to examine the cutting edge of printmaking, this book brings together an amalgam of print designs that have gone beyond pure digital printing. Through more than 110 samples of recent graphic identities, packaging, communications and book designs, it offers a professional look into the use of varnish, foil-stamping, die-cut, thermal prints, technical folds and many more, with design specifications.
50. Know Your Onions: Graphic Design by Drew de Soto
The focus of this book is on practical tips and pointers to help you be a better designer. The closest thing you’ll get in print to having a real-life graphic design mentor, it will guide you through the fundamental processes of generating ideas, developing your concepts, and putting them into practice.
Designed like a notebook, in which all the authors’ tips and knowledge have already been added, there is a light and accessible tone throughout this book. But that doesn’t mean it’s not comprehensive; in fact, it covers all of the main techniques of graphic design and its digital implementation and will teach you both how to think like a creative and act like a businessperson. It also includes blank pages that allow you to add specific notes that are relevant to your own studio, suppliers or clients.
51. The User Experience Team of One
Written by Leah Buley, a veteran of the experience design industry, The User Experience Team of One is a survival guide for anyone working in the world of UX. Revealing and demonstrating some mindblowing techniques for creating big impact with less time and fewer resources, Buley’s guide is essential for someone trying to make waves in user experience—whether they’re just making a start in the industry or want to push their existing company further.
52. 100 Years of Swiss Graphic Design by Christian Brandle, Karin Gimmi and Barbara Junod
If you work in design, you really need to know about the Swiss Style, which influenced the discipline of graphic design all over the world. And here’s the book to explain it. Taking a fresh look at Swiss typography, graphics, posters, corporate image design, book design, journalism and typefaces over the past century, the book is designed by the Zurich studio NORM and features a series of enlightening essays by experts in the field, each beautifully illustrated with stunning visuals.
53. Graphic Life
A beautifully designed book from the team at Pentagram, Graphic Life is an exploration of the work of the studio’s very own Michael Gericke. Graphic Life features work from across Gericke’s four decades in the industry and essays from his former collaborators, namely celebrated architect Moshe Safdie and Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Goldberger. The fascinating book can be summed up with Gericke’s own quote: “I’ve found a graphic voice, like life, with many tones and inflections, can say quite a bit and tell quite a story.”
54. The Anatomy of Colour by Patrick Baty
Colour is an integral part of design, but knowing how to use it isn’t just about learning the colour wheel: it’s also about understanding its deep historical roots and how we use colour as a society in practice. Thus every designer needs to read this comprehensive and detailed book, focusing on the use of colour in decoration over a 300-year period.
Drawing on a specialist archive, historian Patrick Baty traces the evolution of pigments and paint colours, together with colour systems and standards, and examines their impact on the colour palettes used in interiors from 1650 to 1960. In doing so, he highlights the distinctive colour trends and styles of painting particular to each period, which is put in context through in-depth analysis of the history of colour and the development and use of paint colours in interior design.
55. Copy This Book: An Artist’s Guide to Copyright by Eric Schrijver
Copyright is one of the areas of law that designers struggle with most. This book offers a guide to the subject that’s written in plain English, making often complex concepts easy to understand and follow. Both practical and critical, it will guide you through the concepts underlying copyright and how they apply in your practice.
How do you get copyright? For what work? And for how long? How does copyright move across mediums, and how can you go about integrating the work of others? This book answers all these questions and more and will help you keep on the right side of the law.
56. Graphic Fest
Graphic Fest takes a deep dive into the branding and design of different festival and fairs around the world. The book explores how festivals use branding, whether it be creating a fresh but recognisable theme year-on-year or making something that stands the test of time. From the Afrique Culture Festival to Geneva’s La Bâtie festival, this gorgeous book really takes an inside look into festival design—excellent for both inspiration and interest.
57. Palette Mini Series 01-03
These small but chunky books are a beautiful exploration of different palettes and their varying applications across graphic design and graphic arts. All published in 2020 and at 256 pages long, the first in the series explores work produced in black and white and the striking impact they can have on a project. Number 02 looks at multicolour designs and the power and individuality colour can given to a design. The third and final (for now) instalment is all about designs in silver and gold and how they never fail to create eye-catching designs. A great series to grab off the shelf when you’re looking for inspiration.
Buy the books: 01 , 02 and 03
58. Basic Designs 01: Format by Gavin Ambrose & Paul Harris
Typography is the means by which a written idea is given a visual form. Effective use of typography can produce a neutral effect or rouse the passions, symbolise artistic, political or philosophical movements or express the personality of a person or organisation. This book aims to impart a comprehensive understanding of typography, to explore its history, theory and practice.
If you’d benefit from a thorough examination of how typography informs other aspects of creative design, this book is for you.
59. Basic Designs 02: Layout by Gavin Ambrose & Paul Harris
Through this book, Ambrose and Harris introduce the fundamentals of layout within the field of graphic design. It provides a guide to the effective arrangement of text and image elements within a design scheme, enabling you to learn how to create powerful forms of visual communication in both print and electronic media.
Have these beautiful books got you wanting to design yourself? Then there’s no better than Shillington’s innovative graphic design course where you can become a graphic designer in just three months full-time or nine months part-time on campus or online .
Oliver Stevenson September 22, 2022
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10 design books to consider for graphic design students
Learning graphic design is a lifelong process, so graphic design students don’t worry about, for example, essay writer tasks: you’ll have plenty of time becoming an expert in your field and you can focus on editing and proofreading at the moment. This said, I know that when you are getting started you are really eager to learn more quicker, that’s why I’m suggesting a selection of design books that are in my opinion worth reading for graphic design students, but also for others.
1. Making and breaking the grid
2. The Elements of Graphic Design
3. Designing Brand Identity
4. Paul Rand: a designer’s art
5. Type: A Visual History of Typefaces and Graphic Styles
6. Thinking with type
7. Stationery design now
8. Package Design Workbook: The Art and Science of Successful Packaging
9. How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul
10. The Art of Color
What design books should we add to this list?
There are so many good design books that even if we wanted to make an exhaustive list it would be impossible. However, we would be happy if you told us in the comments what major books we missed in this list and we’ll add them to the post.
Recommended design books by our readers
About the Author
Mirko Humbert is the editor-in-chief and main author of Designer Daily and Typography Daily . He is also a graphic designer and the founder of WP Expert .
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10 Best Graphic Design Books to Read in 2023
Table of Contents
1. the non-designer’s design book, 2. making and breaking the grid: a layout design workshop, 3. grid systems in graphic design: a visual communication manual for graphic designers, typographers, and three dimensional designers, 4. thinking with type: a critical guide to designers, writers, editors & students by ellen lupton, 5. a smile in the mind: witty thinking in graphic design, 6. how to use graphic design to sell things, explain things, make things look better, make people laugh, make people cry and (every once in a while) change the world, 7. how to be a graphic designer without losing your soul, 8. interaction of color, 9. creative workshop: 80 challenges to sharpen your design skills, 10. don’t make me think, revisited, a common sense approach to web usability.
Graphic design is a form of visual communication between a business and its consumers. A good thought-out graphic design enhances the readability of the business content. A design does not stand on graphics alone. Other elements are equally important. It is a combination of texts, typography skills, images, and page layout techniques. The final design should be clean, legible, and usable, generating a response from the users.
Review and learn from the top-rated books below if you intend to learn graphic design. Let's get started!
Best Graphic Design Books
We have compiled a list of the ten best graphic design books here. These tried and tested books will help you reconceptualize your design approach and push you forward towards innovative creativity.
Author Name: Robin Williams
This book introduces the fundamental principles of designing. It breaks down designing concepts and demonstrates them step-by-step via examples. However, it does not cover grids and logos. This book is intended for beginners and intermediate-level designers.
It covers topics like the principles of designing, designing with color, designing with type, designing with a combination of typefaces. It also includes tips for font usage, a professional approach to designing, tips for brand designing, and other projects.
You can buy the book here.
Grids are an essential part of the graphic designing process. The book would master its learners about grid basics such as columns, compounds, and modular grids. The book guides to build cohesive layouts by explaining the rules of the grid and how to use them and break them to build layouts.
The pages consist of hundreds of colored layout concepts and diagrams to educate and inspire to master the art of building layouts. In this book, you would learn how grids work,
be inspired to explore new concepts for using—or not using—grids, discover possible alternatives for boring layouts, and get the results you want using new design elements. You would also learn designers’ processes via fascinating case studies, see numerous examples of successful layouts created with and without grids, communicate ideas effectively using visual language.
The Grid System enables designers to organize content information in a logical, well-structured, and balanced manner. Typefaces prove to be a common means for brands to establish and strengthen their visual identities. These typefaces go beyond aesthetics and achieve marketing objectives to build value for the brands over the long term by effectively expressing a unique personality or supporting a campaign.
This book lays out the guidelines and rules for using the grid system through examples at a conceptual level. It dives deep into the grid system and typography and enables designers to them effectively. It collates some of the best custom typography work worldwide that demonstrates both creative and commercial ingenuity. It features cover stories that offer insights by the top design studios in the industry and exciting project and technique-related details to inspire both designers and clients alike.
If you're aspiring to be a typographer, this is a must-have. This book is a guide to using typography in graphics using live examples. It provides the latest information in style sheets, ornaments, captions, font licensing, mixed-use typefaces, and hands letters. It is a book exclusively for designing using words.
This book is a witty approach to graphic designing. It is packed with illustrations that demonstrate the application of wit into design techniques. It compiles the best projects in the world, including 1000 projects, 500 designers, and creative minds. It examines the different methods implemented by designers through inspirational examples. It features interviews with designers where they have revealed their source of inspiration behind their classic pieces of work. This book is a compilation of vintage pieces and contemporary designs with a definitive guide to blending wit into designs. This book is a source for triggering witty ideas, written in a humorous designer-friendly vocabulary,
This is the author’s first monograph, design manual, and manifesto that showcases his most noteworthy projects for broad-spectrum clients. This book is a fantastic dip into the main philosophy behind his eclectic approach to designing. Throughout the book, the author provides insights into his creative processes and struggles to bring in innovative ideas. This book offers insights and inspiration to artists and designers on how different elements can be put together to create exceptional designs.
You can buy this book here .
This book is a source of practical advice combined with philosophical guidance, which helps young professionals to embark on their careers. It brings together essential chapters on professional skills, creative processes, and modern-day global trends. It offers a concise guide to setting up, running, and promoting your own design business. It is an advanced reading and great for regular reference.
This book explains the principles of complex color theory. It provides a selection of 60 color studies and focuses on principles like color relativity, color intensity, and temperature, the illusion of transparencies, vibrating and vanishing boundaries, and reversed grounds. It is a good book for artists, painters, designers who are more inclined towards color strategy.
It is a set of 80 creative challenges ranging from creating typefaces to designing web pages. These challenges are intended to strengthen designing skills and increase your ability to innovate, keeping time constraints in mind. It forces you to move outside your comfort zone and work out new concepts. This book also includes beneficial brainstorming techniques and tips from well-known designers.
Usability is one of the most critical factors of design. Clients do not choose from the best available option; rather, they want from the only available option. This is a book for both Web Designers and Web Developers . It evaluates design from the client’s perspective. It focuses on the principles of intuitive navigation and information design. This book points out the common design mistakes and lays down the best practices for web designing. This book is more inclined towards UI/UX with elements of testing, accessibility, usability, and design. This book is not a one-time read; rather, it is a book for regular reference.
The books listed above cover the aspects of designing individually. Right from the first sketch to the final information layout, every element is essential.
The books above complement each other by focusing on one design element at a time.
It is suggested to consult multiple books starting from beginners moving up to the advanced ones to gain all-around knowledge. You might want to begin with books that mention graphic designers for beginners in their overview and eventually climb up to being a professional designer.
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What apps do graphic designers use?
Some of the important tools that are used by a Graphic designer are: 1. Adobe Photoshop. 2. Adobe illustrator. 3. Adobe Indesign. 4. Corel Draw 5. Lightroom 6. QuarkXPress
Do graphic designers use Wacom tablets?
Yes, graphic designers use Wacom tablets for the great designing experience. Wacom creative pen tablets allow designers to work more efficiently under tight deadlines. It allows natural drawing motion and pressure discovery for a smooth drawing process. It comes with a lot of custom settings.
How do you design a logo?
There are many steps that you can consider while creating a logo. 1. Understand the organization. 2. Know the client’s need. 3. Find inspiration for logo design 4. Choose the color and outlook of the logo in the right way. 5. Select the right typography. 6. Evaluate your logo options. 7. Revise the design. 8. Organize the outcome.
What is the graphic design and layout?
Graphic design is the way of visual communication that helps to solve problems through typography, iconography and different picture layouts. You can optimize user experience via interactive designs. In graphic design, everything depends on how the elements are arranged to reflect the meaningful idea. This is why the layout is important in graphic design.
Who is the best graphic designer?
Well, we can never decide whoever the best graphic designer of all time is. Every designer has their unique style and has different designing tastes. The only deciding factor can be the fields where the designer has great work.
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7 Brilliant Graphic Design Books You Need in Your Collection
Color Psychology in Art and Design
How to Draw a Chinese New Year of the Rabbit Window Decoration
How to Turn a Digital Illustration into a Mural Painting
In the digital age, information is more accessible than ever before. Any information you want is just a few taps away on your smart devices. However, with this expanding library of references and information available digitally, many of us graphic designers have forgotten the beauty and excitement of holding an actual graphic design book in our hands.
Not only are we missing this intimate relationship with our literature, but also losing out on the actual knowledge that is so easily accessible from them too. So, if you count yourself as a graphic designer , then you better fill up your empty bookshelves with these 7 best graphic design books that are sure to help you in your journey!
#1. Typography Book: Just My Type
by Simon Garfield
A big part of graphic design are the fonts . Garfield’s deep dive into typography implores you to look closely at your beloved fonts and realize their major contribution to any piece of design. A good font can hide in plain sight and speak to an audience almost subconsciously, having the power to make (or ruin) any work. In contrast, a bad font can negatively influence your design work. Pick out the right font for your designs using this design book.
#2. Graphic Design Fundamentals: How To
by Michael Beirut
A protégé of design legend Massimo Vignelli, and having enjoyed one of the most successful graphic design careers ever, Beirut brings us this design manual. It is an absolute must-read for any designer out there. He reveals his philosophy of what graphic design is, and as the cover so explicitly states, how to use it to to sell things, explain things, make things look better, make people laugh, make people cry, and – every once in a while – change the world! Featuring his work/creative process, relationship with clients and the struggles faced by designers, this graphic design book is a monograph from one of the greats himself!
#3. Graphic Design Book About Colors: Interaction Of Color
by Josef Albers
For the color strategist in you, Albers delves into the principles of complex color theories . With a selection of over 50 case studies, this book is a ready reference guide of principles like temperature, color intensity, color relativity, vibrating and vanishing boundaries, the illusion of transparencies, and reversed grounds. Not just graphic designers, this book has served as a guide to painters and artists alike who have harnessed color strategy into their designs.
#4. Brand Design Book: Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide For The Whole Branding Team
by Alina Wheeler
This book’s fifth edition is a guide in branding fundamentals for both designers and brand teams alike. An outstanding resource to understand branding through and through, Wheeler engages the reader with her in-depth guidance of a universal five-stage process for brand development and implementation. With everything from social media synergy to SEO and experience branding, this up-to-date resource is a must-have on your shelf.
#5.Book Full of Inspiring Designers: Graphic Design Visionaries
by Caroline Roberts
This book presents the story of graphic design through the ages. It features inspiring stories of the 75 most influential designers along with full-color reproductions of their horizon-expanding work. Showcasing individuals like Stefan Sagmeister, Wim Crouwel, M/M Paris, Studio Dumbar and many more, this informative visual masterpiece introduces you to the key identities of the design world you should know.
#6. Book For All Typographers and Graphic Designers: Grid Systems In Graphic Design
by Josef Müller-Brockmann
This legendary Swiss designer's graphic design book remains the definitive guide in mastering the essential principle of grid systems in any piece of graphic design. This visual communication manual is packed with information and detailed examples that are handy for any graphic designers, typographers and 3D designers out there and a resource you simply cannot go without on your reference shelf.
#7. Inspirational Design Book: Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
by Austin Kleon
Creativity in the digital age is full of over-the-top optimism as well as crippling fear of not having an original idea. This New York Times bestseller by Kleon is an inspiring graphic design book/guide about creativity in today’s digital world, presenting 10 transformative principles to help you discover your inner artist and view things from a creative angle.
While our lives and our information have become increasingly digital, the importance of having good core resources readily available to fall back on cannot be overlooked. Successful professionals of every field always preach the virtues of growing your reading list whenever you get the time. A good place to begin your literature study is with the above 7 graphic design books as you steadily populate your bookshelf.
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Design & Product
May 27, 2020 • 16 minutes read
17 Books that will change your approach to design
Designers from across the industry recommend the essential graphic design books to read.
If you’re a graphic designer looking to improve your design skills with new ideas and approaches, welcome to our essential graphic design reading list. If you specialize in another part of design—you’ve also come to the right place. Here’s why.
As the design profession continues to evolve, new specialist roles and definitions are invented all the time. While it’s good to know the difference between UX and UI design , it’s equally important to remember that the best designers often don’t specialize in any one thing .
Design blogger Butterhalfsix sums it up nicely:
I continue to define myself in a very simple way: I’m a designer.
So whether you’re a graphic design guru or a web design wizard, dipping into specialist areas outside your own will make you a better, more rounded designer.
As well as providing an essential reading list, we asked a range of designers from UX, product, and brand to reveal the graphic design books that had a big impact on their ideas about design. We hope you find a good book that sparks fresh inspiration and new ways of thinking—no matter how you define yourself as a designer.
Essential graphic design reads
1. 'interaction of color' by josef albers.
Get the book | $14.38 | Published 1963
Using color effectively is one of the great challenges of design. For design teachers, students, or professionals, Albers’ influential work on color theory demonstrates how to think outside the box of safe color palettes in an economical and impactful way.
“One of the most important books on color ever written.” —Michael Hession @ Gizmodo
2. 'Designing Brand Identity' by Alina Wheeler
Get the book | $40.85 | Published 2012
Depending on your role in a company, the word ‘rebrand’ is either exciting or terrifying. Wheeler’s brand Bible goes beyond just visual design, tackling the entire topic from brand strategy to research. As the book’s subtitle says, “An essential guide for the whole branding team.”
" Designing Brand Identity is the book that first taught me how to build brands. For the past decade, it’s been my blueprint for using design to impact people, culture, and business." —Alex Center, Design Director @ The Coca-Cola Company
3. 'Grid systems in graphic design' by Josef Müller-Brockmann
Get the book | $43.38 | Published 1996
Consistency is a vital design principle, especially if you’re designing a product or brand. The most common way to achieve consistency in these contexts is with a grid system—and what better person to learn from than the godfather of grids himself, Josef Müller-Brockmann.
4. 'Logo Modernism' by Jens Müller
Get the book | $63.59 | Published 2015
Designing a company logo that’s both simple and iconic is harder than it looks. If you need inspiration, this book is an extensive archive of clean, crisp logos from the modernist period. A cultural artifact charting the rise and rise of the corporate logo.
“Almost limitless as a logo archive for the period, Logo Modernism means business about the business of good design.” ―PedroSilmon.com
5. 'Thinking with Type' by Ellen Lupton
Get the book | $10.98 | Published 2010
The definitive guide to using typography in visual design. While there are many books about typography covering different areas of the topic—some of which will appear later in this list—this is a great all-round introduction for any design student.
" Thinking with Type is to typography what Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time is to physics." —I Love Typography
6. 'How to use graphic design to sell things, explain things, make things look better, make people laugh, make people cry, and (every once in a while) change the world' by Michael Bierut
Get the book | $34.61 | Published 2015
A monograph examining the life work of legendary graphic designer and Pentagram partner, Michael Bierut. The book spans 35 projects and delivers unique insights into the potential of graphic design to make a big impact in a variety of ways.
7. '100 Ideas That Changed Design' by Peter Fiell & Charlotte Fiell
Get the book | $12.42 | Published 2012
A great book to dip into for any designer or design fan, 100 Ideas That Changed Design is exactly what the title implies. Comprising ideas and trends emerging from the 19th century up until the present day, it’s a great all-round resource for bite-sized nuggets of inspiration.
"As a survey of the many changes in graphic design and the dialogs between competing schools of thought, 100 Ideas is an entertaining, often insightful read." —Geoff Hart @ STC Technical Communication Journal
The best graphic design books recommended by designers
8. 'signs and symbols: their design and meaning' by adrian frutiger.
Get the book | $53.46 | Published 1978
Our UX designer, Jolanta Gil , opens this list with this seminal work by Swiss typeface pioneer Adrian Frutiger . The book delves deep into the relationship between symbols and psychology, providing fascinating theories on why certain shapes and patterns have endured in the human mind throughout history.
The book tells such interesting ideas, like why we depict the heart's symbol in one way or another, even though the real human heart looks completely different.
Jolanta Gil , UX Designer at Maze
Full of theories on the roots visual symbols and how they've developed through the history of graphic design, the book is a must-read for any designer who wants to understand simple visual elements that we take for granted. A vital resource for logo design.
Fun fact: Adrian Frutiger was a leading typeface designer who created many famous typefaces, including Avenir, Linotype Didot, and Frutiger Next.
9. 'Type Matters!' by Jim Williams
Get the book | $18.65 | Published 2012
While typography is an essential pillar of graphic design, product designer Matt Elbert thinks having a good understanding of the elements of typographic styles can massively benefit any designer. He recommends reading Type Matters!, a solid introduction to why fonts matter and how you should think about typography, written by award-winning graphic designer Jim Williams.
Whether it’s graphic or product design, typography has a voice. How we interpret that voice affects how the design makes us feel. This is a great book for communicating that idea.
Matt Elbert , Product Designer at Movista
If typography is an unexplored area for you, this is a great place to start.
10. 'Type: A Visual History of Typefaces and Graphic Styles' by Jan Tholenaar et al.
Get the book | $36.20 | Published 2009
Another one for typographers, this comprehensive and beautifully-put-together collection of fonts begins all the way back in 1628. The book showcases a broad range of typefaces across history, with a particular focus on the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century. It also includes other typographic elements like borders, initials, and ornaments.
Claudia Aran , Senior Visual Designer at Typeform and typeface connoisseur, was keen to recommend it for this list:
This book feels like a journey through time in typography and letter print.
Claudia Aran , Senior Visual Designer at Typeform
A great resource for any designer to dive into for typeface inspiration.
11. 'Designing News' by Francesco Franchi
Get the book | $78.00 | Published 2013
Creative director Francesco Franchi draws on his publishing experience to set out a comprehensive vision on editorial design. The book examines how the transformation of news and journalism in the digital age affects the way we should approach design in the media.
Product designer Alex Muench gives it a big thumbs up:
For graphic and editorial designers, it’s an inspiring read about the past and potential future of news and media reporting—and how designers can shape this future.
Alex Muench , Product Designer at Doist
If you work in editorial design, dip into this book every once in a while for inspiration on layouts and infographics.
12. 'Designing Design' by Kenya Hara
Get the book | $48.81 | Published 2003
Written by Japanese graphic designer and MUJI art director, Kenya Hara , Designing Design is an ode to the power of simplicity in design. Inspired by Japanese philosophy and color theory, the book emphasizes the importance of emptiness and space in design—something that product and UI designers can relate to just as much as graphic designers.
Product designer Helen Tsvirinkal explains how this book impacted the way she approaches design :
Reading this taught me that every aspect of a design has to be meaningful. Only use a color if it helps communicate something. Only choose a material if it solves a problem or stimulates a desired tactile experience. And if something doesn't have a clear purpose, reconsider if it's necessary.
Helen Tsvirinkal , Product Designer at Shopify
Fun fact: Author Kenya Hara designed the opening and closing ceremonies for the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998.
13. 'The Non-Designer’s Design Book' by Robin Williams
Get the book | $12.14 | Published 2003
Perfect for beginners, this one’s an essential guide for anyone dabbling in design for the first time. It breaks down the basic theory around the pillars of design—proximity, alignment, repetition, contrast, and color—that anyone can understand and remember.
Reading this book as a non-designer makes you realize that, actually, you’re doing design work all the time. Williams equips you with the fundamentals to apply design principles in your everyday life and improve things.
Maze product designer Victor Vorontsov loves the book for this reason—but points out that it can also be a double-edged sword:
This is the best book for explaining basic design rules in a simple and clear way for newbies. But you’ll suffer afterwards, because you’ll spot bad design in everything around you!
Victor Vorontsov , Product Designer at Maze
As a non-designer who has read this book, I can confirm.
14. 'The Design of Everyday Things' by Don Norman
Get the book | $16.15 | Published 1988
A great follow-up read for design students once The Non-designer’s Design Book has taught you the basics. This book is all about how design is applied to the world around us. Less to do with graphic design specifically—but still incredibly relevant—Don Norman’s classic reveals the ingenuity of the design behind everyday objects.
Illustrator and designer Petra Sitaru sums up her main takeaway:
I read this book a while back, but I still remember the most important thing I learned: good design becomes invisible by fulfilling its purpose. The only time people really notice design is if it’s not doing its job.
Petra Sitaru , Freelance Illustrator & Designer
If you ever wondered why doors are shaped like they are, this book will help explain things. An absolute must-read for designers of all kinds.
15. 'Things I Have Learned In My Life So Far' by Stefan Sagmeister
Get the book | $27.09 | Published 2008
If there’s such a thing as a graphic design rockstar, Stefan Sagmeister definitely qualifies. Between designing album covers for Lou Reed, The Rolling Stones, and Jay-Z, he has hosted exhibitions all over the world and has even made a feature length film.
Less a book on graphic design, and more an abstract window into the mind of a true graphic design auteur, this is a unique experience for designers who really want to challenge their imagination. Sagmeister superfan Claudia can’t recommend it enough:
A master of graphic design and typography, Sagmeister has always inspired me with how differently he sees things and solves visual communications. He can pick any random topic and make it evolve in a beautiful way with visual design.
Full of witty diary observations and jaw-dropping visuals, this book is a work of art in itself.
16. 'Design Diaries: Creative Process in Graphic Design' by Lucienne Roberts & Rebecca Wright
Get the book | $18.22 | Published 2010
While many of the books on this list delve into the theoretical side of design, Design Diaries explores the practical side with real-world, detailed case studies on the design process.
Featuring inside reports on how famous international studios approached past projects, it’s a fascinating look at the day-to-day struggle behind beautiful designs—the imperfect part you don’t normally get to see.
Brand designer Dimitra Papastathi explains why this book is special to her:
Process is the most important part of the job. Beyond defining the final visual outcome, it’s the part we enjoy most as designers. The book showcases projects throughout the years, so it’s particularly interesting to observe how design processes have evolved over time.
Dimitra Papastathi , Freelance Brand & Digital Designer
An insightful read for budding designers and branding teams still honing their design process.
17. 'The Language of Things' by Deyan Sudjic
Get the book | $11.77 | Published 2008
A funny, thoughtful essay about how designs change the world and shape our perceptions. Authored by the Director of the London Design Museum, the book draws on a huge variety of physical designs and objects—from lamps, to calculators, to guns—to form an academic critique on our cultural relationship with design.
Here’s UX designer Jolanta Gil on why this book makes the list:
The book answers questions like: Why do some objects become archetypes? And why do we let ourselves be drawn into a mad trance of consumption? Using concrete examples from history and modernity, Sudjic shows that design is an evolving language that’s worth learning to read.
For designers who are interested in how design relates to society, this is an engaging read.
Looking for reading recommendations on UX research? Here's our top 11 UX research books 📚
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50 essential books every graphic designer should read.
Image courtesy of Chris Wilson , featuring some of his own top picks
Whatever stage you've reached in your career as a graphic designer, one thing's for sure: you never stop learning. Or rather, you never should stop learning: honing your existing skills, discovering new approaches, and encountering fresh perspectives.
Written by: Tom May
20 January 2022
In a rush to meet daily deadlines, though, it's often easy to get stuck in a rut. Months, even years, can pass without you learning anything new, as you're so focused on getting your work done and getting the bills paid. Settling down with a good book can be a great way to break out of this vicious circle, get fresh inspiration and start learning new things again.
In this article, we've listed our 50 favourite design books. Ranging from instructional texts to collections of essays, design monographs to business guides, you're sure to find an inspiring read here that will help reinvigorate your creative practice.
1. Graphic Design School by David Dabner, Sandra Stewart, Abbie Vickress
Traditionally, graphic design required formal study before you could enter the profession. That's not necessarily the case nowadays, but it's still good to know the fundamentals. This book is described as a foundation course for graphic designers working in print, moving image and digital media, and is divided into two main sections, 'principles' and 'practice'. The first section deals with the fundamentals of design, such as composition, hierarchy, layout, typography, grid structure, colour, etc. The second puts these basics into practice and explains studio techniques and production issues.
2. Designing Brand Identity by Alina Wheeler
Are you looking for an authoritative guide to branding, taking in all the different aspects from start to finish? You'll find it here. From research and analysis through launch and governance, this book provides expert insight on all aspects of the process and describes the best practices that build better brands.
3. Know Your Onions by Drew De Soto
It's no exaggeration to say that the book covers all the essential graphic design techniques and their digital implementation. It's designed like a notebook, with all the authors' tips and knowledge contained inside, along with blank pages that allow you to add your own personal notes and thoughts.
4. Now Try Something Weirder by Michael Johnson
To survive in the creative industry, you need to keep generating great ideas. Award-winning graphic designer Michael Johnson draws on three decades-plus of experience to share his secret. This book will help you improve the way you work with clients, deal with briefs, give presentations and gain confidence in your abilities.
Now Try Something Weirder by Michael Johnson
5. Extra Bold by multiple authors
Unlike any design book we've seen to date, Extra Bold is a practical and informative career handbook for designers that's part-textbook and part-comic book, part-zine, part-manifesto, and part-self help manual. You'll find within a range of interviews, essays, typefaces, biographical sketches, and projects from dozens of contributors with a variety of abilities, gender identities, and racial, ethnic and class backgrounds, and Jennifer Tobias's original, handcrafted illustrations add a healthy dose of fun.
6. The Graphic Design Reference + Specification Book by Poppy Evans and Aaris Sherin
As a graphic designer, you need ideas and inspiration. But you also need to understand the nitty-gritty of the design process, such as how much space to leave in the gutter when designing barrel folds, what proofreaders' symbols mean, how different image file formats differ, and so forth. This comprehensive reference everywhere brings together a ton of must-have information in an up-to-date, concise handbook.
7. The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst
A true classic, originally published in 1992, and thoroughly revised for the modern era. Renowned typographer Robert Bringhurst explains the art of typography in a clear and concise style, from practical, theoretical, and historical perspectives. Quite simply a must-read for any graphic designer entering the profession.
8. Book of Branding by Radim Malinic
Creative director and designer Radim Malinic 's Book of Branding is an excellent introduction to the world of visual identity with a conversational tone that's delightfully jargon-free. It gives a lot of real-world advice and case studies to help you understand the brand identity process and how great collaborative work is created in practice.
Book of Branding by Radim Malinic
9. How To by Michael Beirut
Protege of design legend Massimo Vignelli and partner in Pentagram, Michael Bierut is one of the world's most respected designers. This revised and expanded edition of his monograph features projects for clients including Mastercard and The Poetry Foundation and serves as a veritable bible of graphic design ideas.
10. Make Your Own Luck by Aries Moross
In this mixture of memoir and guide, famed creative Aries Moross offers a series of insider's tips on how to make it in the competitive field of design. With a forthright and refreshingly honest tone, Make Your Own Luck address how to thrive in art school, develop your own style, self-promote, collaborate, deal with copycats, find an agent, and more.
11. Oh Sh*T What Now? by Craig Oldham
In this revelatory book, celebrated designer Craig Oldham answers the common questions raised by graphic design graduates: What now? Where do you live? Can you afford to live? How can you make money doing design? How do you get a job? Who do you want to work for and are you good enough? Sharing his own experiences, as well as ideas, advice and inspiration, this book is as funny and honest as it is practical and useful.
12. Citizen First Designer Second by Rejane Dal Bello
As someone who's spent 20 years working in the design industry, it goes without saying that Rejane Dal Bello cares about design. Here, the graphic designer, illustrator and visual branding consultant explains why choosing a design career has mattered to her, and how it can matter to others. This deeply personal book, beautifully designed by Jon Dowling & Céline Leterme, is a great choice for anyone considering entering the profession or seeking fresh insight and inspiration for their work
Citizen First Designer Second by Rejane Dal Bello
13. Designing Graphic Props for Filmmaking by Annie Atkins
Although we wouldn't often think of it, films are full of objects and props that need to be designed, such as invitations, letters, tickets, and packaging. Annie Atkins has spent a career doing so, and this behind-the-scenes account is a fascinating insight that will inform and inspire graphic designers of all types.
14. Bottlenecks: Aligning UX Design with User Psychology by David Evans
User experience design is, at root, about understanding your users. And so this book gives a useful and comprehensive introduction to foundational psychology, in a way that directly relates to UX design. Written by David Evans, an experimental psychology PhD and senior manager of consumer research at Microsoft, this will help UX designers gain an edge in a super-competitive field.
15. Graphic Design: The New Basics by Ellen Lupton & Jennifer Cole Phillips
This revised and updated 2015 edition of Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips's 2008 classic, acts as an excellent introduction to graphic design for new entrants to the profession. Visual demonstrations and concise commentary explain the formal elements of design, from logos to letterhead to complex website design.
16. Nakajo by Masayoshi Nakajo
Born in 1933, Japanese designer Masayoshi Nakajo worked in the advertising department of Shiseido and for Deska, before establishing his own Nakajo Design Office in 1961. Famed for his work for advertisements, products, watch faces, posters, and the House of Shiseido, this book offers a colourful visual timeline of his career. It's a great way to discover and enjoy Nakajo's ability to harness youthful avant-garde symbols and create designs and patterns that are always infused with movement and energy.
Nakajo by Masayoshi Nakajo. Image courtesy of Counterprint
17. Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton
Another great read by Ellen Lupton, this primer on typographic design is divided into three sections: covering lettering, text, and grids. Each section is accompanied by an essay explaining key concepts, and then a set of practical demonstrations illustrating that material. Essential reading for students, teachers, and anyone entering the graphic design profession.
18. The Art of Looking Sideways by Alan Fletcher
How people perceive things visually is of obvious importance to anyone involved in visual design. Serious yet easy-to-read exploration of the science being perception, this unique book is packed with anecdotes, quotations, images, curious facts and useless information, oddities, serious science, jokes and memories. This book does not set out to teach lessons or draw conclusions, but it is full of wisdom and insight collected from all over the world.
19. Grid Systems by Josef Müller-Brockmann
Swiss graphic designer Josef Müller-Brockmann was one of the biggest names in mid-20th century design, and in this classic book he sets out a series of guidelines and rules for the function and use of grid systems, from 8 to 32 grid fields to three-dimensional grids. It remains today an essential guidebook for everyone working in the profession.
20. Good by Design by Viction:workshop ltd
In recent years, world-changing events like the pandemic and climate change have made us think more deeply about what it is to be a designer, and how that can mean more than just a way to make money. Good by Design brings together the best projects and insights for those wishing to put their graphic designs skills to better use, and combine creativity, craft, and compelling visuals to transform the way we live.
Good by Design by Viction:workshop ltd. Image courtesy of Counterprint
21. Designing Type by Karen Cheng
First published in 2006, this classic guide to type design has been fully updated for 2020. You'll learn all about basic issues informing the creation of typography, including the visual principles of letter construction, optical compensation and legibility, and the relationships between letters and shapes in a font. The new version of the book also includes more contemporary typefaces and explanatory diagrams, as well as a closer connection between text and image.
22. Logo Modernism by Jens Muller
To know where you're going, you need to know where you've been. And that's the case in logo design just as much as anywhere else. Hence this book pulls together approximately 6,000 trademarks from the period 1940-1980, to examine how modernist attitudes and imperatives gave birth to today's corporate identities.
23. The History of Graphic Design Vol 1 & 2 by Jens Muller
Another authoritative book about design's past by Jens Muller, The History of Graphic Design delivers exactly what the title promises. Featuring hundreds of landmark projects, industry leaders profiles, and illustrated timelines, this book traces the evolution of the profession from the end of the 19th century to the remains of World War II.
24. Baseline Shift by Briar Levit
Most histories of graphic design place women in the margins. Here's the exception. With a little digging, the author confirms that women of various backgrounds and ethnicities have long been active in the profession: running presses in the British colonies, illustrating books in the studios of artistically cutting-edge Harlem, and drawing type in the drafting rooms of major type foundries. This collection of 15 fascinating illustrated essays uncovers their fascinating stories.
Baseline Shift by Briar Levit. Image courtesy of Counterprint
25. Women Design by Libby Sellers
Traditionally, design books have tended to minimise the contribution of women to the profession, so here's one that starts to right the balance. Women Design profiles a selection of the most dynamic female designers, from architects and product designers to textile artists and digital innovators. These range from pioneers such as Eileen Gray, Lora Lamm and Lella Vignelli to more recent trailblazers including Kazuyo Sejima, Hella Jongerius and Neri Oxman.
26. Can Graphic Design Save Your Life? by Lucienne Roberts
There aren't a lot of books exploring the relationship between graphic design and health, but here's a great one. Now in a second and updated edition, this ambitious book explores examples such as health apps, pill packaging, hospital information systems, and public health warnings. Contributing designers, design writers and health professionals all examine the question of how graphic design impacts what we notice, what we understand and the actions we take in matters of health.
27. Visual Intelligence by Félix Beltrán
Born 1938 in Havana, Cuba, Félix Beltrán, is one of Latin America's most important graphic designers. His works are situated in the tension between abstract geometry and concrete art, and this monograph showcases hundreds of his logos, posters, and book covers. A fascinating and inspiring insight into a great creative mind.
28. Logotype by Michael Evamy
First published in 2016, Logotype is a definitive collection of logotypes, monograms and other text-based corporate marks. It features more than 1,300 international typographic identities, by around 250 design studios, and examples are drawn not just from Western Europe and North America but also Australia, South Africa, the Far East, Israel, Iran, South America and Eastern Europe. Contributing design firms include Pentagram, Vignelli Associates, Chermayeff & Geismar, Wolff Olins and Landor.
Logotype by Michael Evamy
29. Look Both Ways by Debbie Millman
Debbie Millman is best known as the host of the design podcast Design Matters. This book is inspired by the monologues she prepares for each episode and features illustrated essays on life and design. Covering topics ranging from brands and behaviour to rituals, love and music, this book will make you think and occasionally laugh out loud.
30. Branding: In Five and a Half Steps by Michael Johnson
Michael Johnson's award-winning studio, johnson banks, is responsible for the rebranding of companies Virgin Atlantic, Think London, BFI and Christian Aid. Here, he strips everyday brands down to their basic components, with case studies that enable us to understand why we select one product or service over another and allow us to comprehend how seemingly subtle influences can affect consumers' decisions.
31. 100 Years of Swiss Graphic Design by Christian Brandle, Karin Gimmi and Barbara Junod
Swiss design is referred to a lot in the design community, but how much do you know about it really? This book, designed by the Zurich studio NORM, takes a fresh look at Swiss typography and design over the past hundred years and explains what it all means, with illuminating essays from experts in the field and captivating illustrations.
32. Work Hard & Be Nice to People by Anthony Burrill
Designer Anthony Burrill is probably best known for his poster based on the slogan "Work Hard & Be Nice to People". His book is full of similarly concise and down-to-earth advice on getting things done, success, creativity, difficult decisions, motivation, work, collaboration and happiness. This new version is a re-worked and re-packaged paperback edition for 2020.
Work Hard & Be Nice to People by Anthony Burrill
33. Drawing Type: An Introduction to Illustrating Letterforms by Alex Fowkes
Nowadays, more and more designers are drawing their own type, for use in a range of disciplines such as packaging, editorial, posters, advertising, online graphics, and signage. If you fancy getting on board with the hand-made aesthetic, this book walks you through the steps to drawing serifs, san serifs and scripts, etc, with ample space on the pages to mimic and draw your own typefaces.
34. The Process: A New Foundation in Art and Design by By Richard Wilde, Judith Wilde
Whether you're a design student or an established designer, it's good to challenge yourself now and again to shake things up. This book is a compendium of 13 experimental projects designed to teach conceptual thinking and problem solving to art and design students. Each project is illustrated with multiple visual solutions, provided to inspire creativity and illustrate that there can be multiple solutions to a single problem.
35. Watching Words Move by Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar
In 1959, design legends Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar produced a small booklet about typographic creativity. Six decades on, it remains influential, and this reproduction includes added thoughts by other designers including Michael Carabetta, George Lois, April Greiman, Steve Heller and Kit Hinrichs on its lasting impact.
36. Why Fonts Matter by Sarah Hyndman
How do fonts affect what we read and influence the choices people make? This book opens up the science and the art behind how typography, and explains why certain fonts or styles evoke particular experiences and associations. A must-read for any designer who loves words and how they influence and wants to know how to give them impact in design.
Why Fonts Matter by Sarah Hyndman. Image courtesy of Sara
37. Start Me Up!: New Branding for Businesses by Robert Klanten
Traditional branding books focus on large companies and big brands. But in the 2010s and 2020s, corporate design has diversified enormously as the startup scene explodes around the world. In this 2015 book, Robert Klanten shares some of the best work by creative agencies for startup founders, from a beauty parlour in Singapore to a whisky distillery in Finland.
38. Citizen Designer: Perspectives on Design Responsibility by Steven Heller and Veronique Vienne
What does it mean to be a designer in today's corporate-driven, overbranded global consumer culture? This book attempts to answer this question with more than 70 essays and interviews covering controversial topics such as topics as the advertising of harmful products, branding to minors, and violence in game design. It doesn't provide any definitive answers, but through asking the right questions, acts as a spur for further debate and discussion.
39. Don't Get a Job... Make a Job: How to make it as a creative graduate by Gem Barton
This book was written in 2016, but couldn't be more relevant in this pandemic era. Its starting point is that there are an increasing number of creative graduates, but a shrinking number of actual jobs. In short, your best route is to make opportunities for yourself, and this book celebrates the various strategies students and graduates are taking to gain exposure and gainful employment.
40. The Designer's Dictionary of Colour by Sean Adams
Colour is key to nailing your design work, so it deserves a book that examines it in depth. The Designer's Dictionary of Color takes a deep dive into 30 specific colours, detail each one's creative history and cultural associations. This is accompanied by lots of visual examples from the turquoise on a Reid Miles album cover to the avocado paint job on a 1970s Dodge station wagon. A source of both practical advice and inspiration for designers everywhere.
Designer's Dictionary of Colour [UK edition] by Sean Adams (Abrams, £19.99) out now
41. 100 Ideas That Changed Graphic Design by Steven Heller and Veronique Vienne
Graphic design isn't static, but changes over time. This brilliantly crafted book records some of the best graphic design ideas from the last 100 years that have influenced that evolution. Arranged broadly in chronological order, the ideas featured including technical ones like overprinting to stylistic ones like swashes on caps, as well as groundbreaking methods ranging from paper cut-outs and pixelation.
42. Keep Going by Austin Kleon
Creative work is hard, and it never really gets easier. So to make it as a graphic designer, you need some stamina, and this book can help. It's full of illustrated advice and encouragement on how to stay creative, focused, and true to yourself in the face of burnout or distractions.
43. Layout Essentials by Beth Tondreau
It's quite simple: without knowing the rules of grids and layout design, you won't make it as a graphic designer. Equally, though, if you stick to them rigidly, you'll limit your creativity. So knowing when to bend and even break the rules is just as important as knowing them in the first place. This comprehensive book covers both, with lots of visual examples.
44. Logo Design Love by David Airey
Want to know how logos are created in the real world? In this book, the author client case studies from renowned designers to illustrate how to develop an iconic brand identity from start to finish, using. Topics covered include creating effective briefs, generating ideas, charging for logos, and how to collaborate with clients.
Logo Design Love by David Airey (Image courtesy of David)
45. How to do Great Work Without Being an Asshole by Paul Woods
As you can probably tell from the title, this book does not pull its punches. Its inspiration is the commonly held idea that long hours, chaotic workflows and egotistical colleagues are part of being a "proper designer". It disagrees with this toxic attitude and instead offers anecdotes, flowcharts, exercises and action plans for better working practices
46. Copy This Book: An Artist’s Guide to Copyright by Eric Schrijver
Whether you're seeking to protect your intellectual property or avoid infringing others', copyright is an absolute minefield. This well-structured guide will help you get your head around it. Copy This Book details the concepts of authorship and original creation that underlie our legal system, providing you with an essential guide for navigating the new Commons and the old laws of copyright control.
47. Visual History of Type by Paul McNeil
This book is a complete visual index of western typefaces from the early days of printing to the modern era. More than 320 typefaces are displayed in the form of their original type specimens or earliest printing. Each entry is supported by a brief history and description of key characteristics of the typeface. The level of detail is simply astonishing and it's that which makes this a must-have for any designer interested in typography.
48. The Anatomy of Colour by Patrick Baty
Colours mean specific things to specific people, but this is not set in stone. In fact, it's evolved hugely over time. This book offers you a glimpse into just how much, as archive, historian and paint expert Patrick Baty traces the evolution of pigments and paint colours together with colour systems and standards. He then goes on to examine their impact on the palettes used in interior design, from 1650 to 1960.
49. Graphic Design Rants and Raves by Steven Heller
Design is everywhere, and graphic design enters into everything. That's the organising principle for this collection of essays, which brings together 40 essays on such subjects as brand design utilised by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, The Charlie Hebdo massacre and the principles of free expression, and revisiting design icons like Paul Rand and Frank Zachary.
50. Geometry of Design by Kimberly Elam
Geometry is where art and design meet maths, and this instructive book explains how that works in words that non-experts can understand. The book focuses not only on the classic systems of proportioning, such as the golden section and root rectangles but also on less well known proportioning systems such as the Fibonacci Series. Through detailed diagrams, these geometric systems are brought to life, giving an effective insight into the design process.
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