10 Graphic Design Books Every Designer Should Read

10 Graphic Design Books Every Designer Should Read

We live in a digital era of mobile and smart devices. We are signed up to multiple RSS feeds, blogs and newsletters which are all fabulous if you want to know all the latest news, tips and tricks from the industry.

But where did the beautifully designed and informative books dissapear in the process of content digitalization?

There is no pdf, no web image or tablet document that can replace the captivating and exquisite feeling of holding a graphic design book in your hands.

You can start filling those empty bookshelves you have with this magnificent books. I’ve selected 10 books I enjoyed the most and I believe that every graphic designer should read them.

1. The Elements of Graphic Design

The elements of graphic design

The elements of graphic design

 

I did read a lot of books on graphic design principles but The Elements Of Graphic Design is the only one I found to be worth reading entirely. It is an introductory book on design. At the same time it is important to understand that this book is not a typical read and can’t be approached in the same way as others.

The unique layout is to say the least, very engaging. It gives the reader a great experience with the topic. There are many examples throughout that illustrate the authors points, along with various quotes that add emphasis. There is plenty of rich content that support everything the author claims.

This book is extremely beneficial for anyone who wants to learn about graphic design from the ground up or even for a seasoned professional that wants to strengthen his/her knowledge about design. The imagery is really amazing and very inspirational.

Read it thoroughly and it will help you connect with your audience. Any audience.

2. Los Logos 6

Los Logos 6

Los Logos 6

 

Los Logos 6 is absolutely, without a doubt, the best reference book on contemporary logo design worldwide. Like the previous editions of Gestalten’s best-selling Los Logos series, the book is both a guide to the latest innovations as well as a precursor to coming styles and trends.

This is a 400-page, fully indexed guide with an unparalleled selection of cutting-edge examples from around the globe. It is intuitively structured into seven chapters: Emblem, Script, Art Brut, Type, Glitch, Iconic, and Family.

Los Logos 6 is a practical handbook of contemporary logo design, as well as a provocative up-to-the-minute source of creativity and inspiration. It is a must-have for any graphic designer, brand manager, trend scout, or marketing strategist. And above all, it looks fantastic!

3. Big Brand Theory

Big Brand Theory

Big Brand Theory

 

Big Brand Theory is a spectacular compilation featuring the highest-profile branding campaigns and providing an invaluable resource guide for those wishing to understand the key elements of a successful brand.

Case studies for worldwide famous brands such as Adidas, Colette, Converse, Starbucks, H&M, Nike, Isse Miyake, Lacoste, Levis, Thonik, UNIQLO, and many more illustrate the crucial design elements essential to crafting a youthful and dynamic corporate identity.

Examination of each branding concept is multi-faceted, with examples devoted to not just one, but many elements utilized in major campaigns: for example, Nikes featured campaigns include individual product packaging, posters, store displays, athletic wear, retail bags and boxes, corporate giveaways, and high-end designer products and gifts. Richly illustrated, Big Brand Theory is an indispensable guide through a variety of industries to reveal what really works in the world of branding. With each individual brand project you will take away an invaluable lesson.

4. Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team

Designing Brand Identity

Designing Brand Identity

 

Branding isn’t just art. It’s process. This book has three sections – the first on aligning the purpose of a company with a suiting image, the second on building a framework for managing this process and third on real-life examples that bring everything together.

This book lays out a five-phase process of brand identity, from research and development to design application. An excellent toolkit for graphic designers of all calibers that want to learn additional aspects of building a strong brand that will defy time.

5. Thinking with Type, 2nd Edition

Thinking With Type, 2nd Edition

Thinking With Type, 2nd Edition

 

The language can be intimidatingly academic at times, but this book is a best-seller for a reason: truly the definitive work on type design and its role in visual communication.

Thinking With Type is a well structured book that does not bombard the reader with type-speak. When new terms are introduced, they are defined and illustrated in a no-nonsense way.
The book comprises three main sections, namely Letter, Grid and Text.

The first section of the book, Letter, briefly introduces type with a very short history, looks at type classification (Humanist, Modern, Transitional, etc.), designing typefaces and screen fonts.

The second section, Text, deals with some of the finer details like kerning, spacing and alignment and includes some simple type exercises.

The third and final section, Grid, is concerned with the Golden Section and the importance of grids in controlling and presenting type.

There’s also a brief but excellent Appendix that deals with punctuation, editing and proofreading. Moreover, there’s a complimentary Thinking With Type web site that hosts some Tools For Teachers, Exercises and an arcade-style game. If you’re serious about graphic design, this book is a must have!

6. Type Matters!

Type Matters

Type Matters!

 

However much you think you know about typography, you should probably know a little more. The practice of type design has never been more integral to the design process than it is now, at the peak of the digital age. Don’t let the terminology overwhelm you. Master it, using this book as your reference. A definite must-have.

It’s a short book, but it does a delightful job of summarizing the core aspects of typography. It’s also absolutely stunning. Well worth picking up as this is a topic you must deeply understand in order master and grow your design skills.

7. Making and Breaking the Grid: A Graphic Design Layout Workshop

Making And Breaking The Grid

Making And Breaking The Grid

 

Making and Breaking the Grid, by Timothy Samara, is an analysis of the construction and deconstruction of grid-based designs. Featuring a comprehensive showcase of works in different media and across several decades.

The book is basically divided into 2 parts. The first one about the creation of the grid-based designs and its usage. The second one explains the deconstruction of the grid, a different approach on design in which the grid doesn’t have to obey any rules.

In the first few pages the reader will be immersed into the historical facts surrounding the development of the grid-based design.

The next chapter the author slows down the pace and starts a workshop about grid design. The content here is precise, clear enough for beginners and a good read for advanced graphic designers. Concepts and styles are illustrated in a simple yet effective way and the examples are spot on.

Then the showcase begins. Pages and pages of great artwork from different decades and styles. Each of them with its own grid style – column, modular grid, etc. Description and comments explain how it was used and the effect generated by it.

As an introduction to grid-design, Making and Breaking the Grid does its job. The highlight of the book, without any doubt, is the showcase of designs. Big illustrations and photographs with detailed information. Definitely a must-have on any design library.

8. Above the Fold: Understanding the Principles of Successful Web Site Design

Above The Fold

Above The Fold

 

The book Above the fold is magnificent. It lays out perimeter fences, fundamental guides within which we can practice our creativity.

If you’re just starting out in the industry, reading Above the Fold will give you a solid foundation in all aspects of the web design process. If you’re more experienced, keep this book close at hand, dip in occasionally to refresh your knowledge, and lavish in the production quality.

It’s easy to use this as a reference guide, each section is digestible in its own right, but the overall structure is deceptively cunning. The whole book is split into three distinct areas, each one confronting a particular stage in a web design project: Design & Typography, Planning & Usability, and Business value. The author synchronises each stage with a player in the process: Designer, User, and Client which makes this book excellent in all aspects.

9. UI is Communication

UI is Communication

UI is Communication

 

User interface design is a challenging, multi-disciplinary activity that requires understanding a wide range of concepts and techniques that are often subjective and even conflicting. Imagine how much it would help if there were a single perspective that you could use to simplify these complex issues down to a small set of objective principles.

In UI is Communication, Everett McKay explains how to design intuitive user interfaces by focusing on effective human communication. A user interface is ultimately a conversation between users and technology. Well-designed user interfaces use the language of UI to communicate to users efficiently and naturally.

They also recognize that there is an emotional human being at the other end of the interaction, so good user interfaces strive to make an emotional connection. Applying what you learn from UI is Communication will remove much of the mystic, subjectiveness, and complexity from user interface design, and help you make better design decisions with confidence. It’s the perfect introduction to user interface design.

The book is devided into six chapters: Communication design principles, Interaction design, Visual design, Communicating to people, Communication-driven design process and Design case studies.

Approachable, practical communication-based guide to interaction and visual design that you can immediately apply to projects to make solid design decisions quickly and confidently. The book Includes design makeovers so you can see the concepts in practice with real examples. This book is by far the BEST on the subject I’ve read. If you want to bring your user interface design and communication on the next level I strongly reccomend you learn what this book offers.

10. Package Design Workbook: The Art and Science of Successful Packaging

Package Design Workbook

Package Design Workbook

 

There’s a lot that goes behind package design. More than what I expected after reading the book. Want to learn how to create great package designs? The Package Design Workbook explains all the ins and outs of packaging in depth.

The book is really split into three major portions although there are six chapters. The first portion talks about the history, art and science of package design. The second part provides the tools, tips and techniques. And the last part consists of 35 case studies.

Not just talking about package design, the book also covers how packaging plays a BIG part for the company through branding.

The authors Steven DuPuis and John Silva addresses a wide variety of factors contributing to good design. There are topics like the psychology of customers when choosing a product, creating a consistent style for future product lines, creating credibility, etc. There are lots of ideas to think about.

This book is an excellent resource to go to for anything package design. I highly reccomend it!

Did I leave out another great book? Share the titles of other excellent reads.

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Gregor Kaurin is a full-time freelance graphic designer, blogger and overall creative thinker who specializes in creating beautiful brand identities, web pages and user interfaces. Helping other businesses with great designs since 2008. Follow him also on other social media.

9 Comments

  1. Great list! I’ve been looking for a good read on layout design so I’ll definitely pick up Making and Breaking the Grid very soon. On the topic of starting out as a freelance designer, though, I thought I might point out David Airey’s Work for Money, Design for Love; his passion for the industry really comes through his clear and concise writing, and his experiences are especially interesting to read about.

    Thanks again!

    Reply
    • Hi Alex and great comment. Sure, David Airey’s book that you mentioned is also good. I personally own all the books that are listed here and I’ve found them very useful. Making and breaking the grid is one of the best books on grid layout I’ve read. You’ll not regret the purchase.

      Reply
  2. Great Collection

    Reply
  3. Art Is Work by Milton Glaser – an inspirational book, pure and simple.

    Reply
    • Fritz, I didn’t come across this book yet but I’ll definitely check it out. Thank you!

      Reply
  4. Thankz for the recommendation. I will look out for it.

    Reply
  5. Hi Gregor, I love the list. As a graphic designer specialized in Logo and Magazine Design, I’m always looking for books about our profession.
    I recommend Eye Magazine (not a book!), my favorite reading stuff about design with a great Eye for types. Thank you!

    Thelma

    http://www.eyemagazine.com/

    Reply
  6. Great collection

    Reply

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