With all the online tools we use to learn design such as YouTube videos, online courses, and blogs, sometimes it’s good to learn design traditionally by way of books. Books often have more details about a specific topic. In addition, books are sometimes more organized than videos. Learning and finding innovative ideas is an everyday process for graphic designers. And, this learning and ideas can be found online as well as in books. Here is a list of 7 graphic design books that all graphic designers should read no matter their skill level.
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Ellen Lupton is a graphic designer, writer, educator, curator (at Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York), and critic. In her typography book, Thinking with Type, Lupton shows you how to use typography in both digital and print work. The book is divided into three sections: Letter, Text, Grid. In the letter section, you’ll learn about the history of typefaces (such as Humanist, Transitional, and Modern) and their creation. Also, Lupton talks about the anatomy and size of letters, how to classify typefaces, logotypes, screen fonts, and bitmap fonts.
In the text section, you’ll learn how to kern, track, space and align text. Plus, you’ll read about web hierarchy and how typography works on websites. In the grid section, Lupton talks about single-column, multi-column, and modular grids and how to use them. Throughout the book, there are examples that show how and why different typography was designed. In addition, there are exercises at the end of each section that helps you implement the knowledge you gained from the sections. This book is good for every graphic designer to have because most designers deal with typography in their designs.
Josef Müller-Brockmann was a well renowned Swiss graphic designer in the 20th century and a teacher. In the book, Grid Systems in Graphic Design, you’ll read about the purpose of the grid system and how to use the grid system. Brockmann shows you how to place type, pictures, and illustrations into a grid. In addition, he talks about the typographic measuring system, the typographic grid, and its uses. One of the uses for the typographic grid is for rational reasons which Brockmann states “simple and complex problems can be solved in a uniform and characteristic style.” Moreover, the book details the construction of grids and how to create grids of your own.
Adrian Shaughnessy is a London based graphic designer, writer, and publisher. In his book How to Be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul, Shaughnessy gives advice and guidance to other designers about the ins and outs of being a graphic designer. You’ll learn about the different attributes people need to be a modern designer such as cultural awareness, communication, and integrity.
In addition, Shaughnessy gives job tips on finding work as a graphic designer. He talks about whether you should work in a studio or work in-house for a firm, interview techniques, and portfolio advice. Additionally, Shaughnessy’s book details ways to deal with clients, how to promote yourself and your work, and the creative process. Moreover, you’ll find ways to approach new projects and doing research for those projects
Michael Bierut is a graphic designer, design critic, and educator. He’s also a founder of a blog called Design Observer. His book How to Use Graphic Design to Sell Things, Explain Things… is a monograph (specialist work of writing that focuses on one subject). In the book, Bierut talks about his life as a graphic designer giving tips and advice along the way. In addition, the book also contains thirty-five of Bierut’s projects along with drawings from his personal notebooks. Additionally, Bierut details the history of each of the design projects, and he details his challenges and thought process/creative process for each of the projects.
Paul Rand was a graphic designer and art director recognized for his corporate logo designs (IBM, ABC, UPS). In his book, Paul Rand: A Designer’s Art, Rand compiled other works and writings of his (some of which is found in his book Thoughts on Design). He talks about the use of different symbols (such as circles and squares) in design and their versatility. In addition, Rand covers the topic of trademarks and shows examples of some famous trademarks of the time, and he talks about package design.
Here is another book by Ellen Lupton and author Jennifer Cole Phillips. Jennifer Cole Phillips is a designer and an educator. In their book, Graphic Design: The New Basics, you’ll learn about topics such as point, line, and plane, rhythm and balance, framing, grid, pattern, and more. Lupton and Phillips detail all the essential topics that are important to graphic design. In addition, they include their commentary on students’ and professionals’ works that are in the book. This is one of the many graphic design books that are good for those who are new to graphic design.
Randy Krum is a designer, author, speaker, instructor, and President of InfoNewt. In his book, Cool Infographics: Effective Communication with Data Visualization and Design, Krum shows you how to create engaging infographics. Plus, he shows you which software to use to create infographics along with infographic design sites. In addition, Krum talks about the science of infographics and why people like infographics. You’ll also read about online infographics and how to promote your infographics online (through SEO). Finally, Krum discusses the many uses of infographics (such as business plans and marketing strategies) and how to design infographic resumes.
Any of these graphic design books would be a fantastic addition to your graphic design library. Plus, they are an investment in helping you hone your current skills and gain new skills.
What are some of your favorite graphic design books that you’ve read?