List of Top Essential Graphic Design Books

essential top graphic design books

I saw a thread on our graphic design message boards regarding “what are the best graphic design books in your library”. I decided to compile a list from not only our forum but from other forum posts on the net. I came up with the following graphic design books. This list contains books that seem to be essential to many graphic designers and these books would be an asset to any graphic designers’ library. If you believe that we missed a book that should be listed here, then please comment about it. Enjoy the read!

1,000 Graphic Elements: Details for Distinctive Designs - Often, the small, delightful details make a piece shine, similar to the way unique buttons on a white shirt can give it an entirely new look. This book explores 1,000 of these embellishments available to graphic designers across all kinds of projects, from books to brochures, invitations to menus, CDs to annual reports.

Marks of Excellence - Finding the roots of trademarks in heraldry, potter’s marks, monograms, and other such ancient devices, this book traces the history of the corporate visual lexicon and produces a taxonomy of the commercial age. An alphabetical section covers motifs from animals to waves, with short definitions and analyses beautifully complemented by daringly cropped and crisply photographed images. Pictures of this quality and interest would steal the show in most volumes, but the text stands up well to the challenge of images that gain force because of the familiarity of their subjects (corporate trademarks), and the unusual sense that the book’s context lends to them. Marks of Excellence is a worthwhile exploration at the modern language of ownership.

Typography: Formation +Transformation - Rather than being eclipsed by new technologies, modern typography has become a powerful medium for visual experimentation and personal expression. Creativity alone, however, is not enough to ensure the success of typographic communication. To transform even the simplest piece of information into a sophisticated message, the typographic designer must grasp theories and aesthetic principles that have shaped visual communication for centuries. Typography: Formation and Transformation explains and illustrates how these principles are key to a typographic design that captures the reader’s attention and helps to comprehend and understand the intended message.

The Elements of Typographic Style - This lovely, well-written book is concerned foremost with creating beautiful typography and is essential for professionals who regularly work with typographic designs. Author Robert Bringhurst writes about designing with the correct typeface; striving for rhythm, proportion, and harmony; choosing and combining type; designing pages; using section heads, subheads, footnotes, and tables; applying kerning and other type adjustments to improve legibility; and adding special characters, including punctuation and diacritical marks. The Elements of Typographic Style teaches the history of and the artistic and practical perspectives on a variety of type families that are available in Europe and America today. The last section of the book classifies and displays many type families, offers a glossary of typography terms, and lists type designers and type foundries. The book briefly mentions digital typography, but otherwise ignores it, focusing instead on general typography and page- and type-design issues. Its examples include text in a variety of languages–including English, Russian, German, and Greek–which is particularly helpful if your work has a multinational focus.

Why Not 1? - hy Not? Is a collection of the most notable work of the British graphic design company Why Not Associates over the last ten years. Ranging from party political broadcasts for the Labour Party through postage stamps, to an installation design for a 300-metre typographic pavement set in stone and steel, as well as award-winning Booth-Clibborn titles such as Typography Now: The Next Wave and In Soccer Wonderland. Why Not? includes the rejected design ideas as well as those that were implemented, providing a superb examination of typographic experimentation and its fusion with photography.

Why Not Associates ?2 - Why Not’s versatile and innovative work has set arresting new standards in an image-saturated world. This inspiring survey brings together their most recent work and shows how they have refined their typographic style as they explore new media, exhibition design, and architecture-scale urban pieces. More than 1500 images, specially selected and arranged by the designers themselves, are accompanied by texts that explain their unique creative process and offer useful insights to designers seeking inspiration. Over 1500 color illustrations.

Paper Graphics: The Power of Paper in Graphic Design - Paper can be an elegant solution to the challenges of graphic design. Paper Graphics examines the many ways paper choice influences design with striking examples of work from top firms (both US and overseas) gathered to offer readers creative inspiration, know how, and fresh ideas. Collected in these pages you will find graphic design in which the qualities of the paper itself inspired or directed the finished piece. Seven chapters present more than 200 inspiring examples of graphic design.

Experimental Formats and Packaging: Creative Solutions for Inspiring Graphic Design - EXPERIMENTAL FORMATS examines the shape and size of the designed page and reveals how decisions made at this initial stage of the design process have a huge impact on the finished design. Today with so much information being projected through screen in a conventional horizontal format, it is appealing to see shapes that are more unusual and more stimulating. The book provides examples of how contemporary designers are pushing the boundaries in this area and explores exciting questions such as how to make a book that does not look like a book.

Type and Typography - While writing and alphabets go back thousands of years, the history of typography is a long, rich, and unique one-spanning from the movable type used to set Guttenberg’s 42-line Bible in 1455 to today’s 21st-century computer-designed typefaces. Type and Typography is the definitive guide for every designer who works with type and layout. Carefully structured and brimming with clear examples, it covers every aspect of typography, from a historical introduction to language, writing systems, and alphabets; following with the development of letterforms and moveable type; and finishing with the evolution of the amazing digital systems available today. In addition, you’ll discover a valuable “road map” that helps you navigate among the bewildering variety of typefaces available, as well as scores of no-fail techniques for using type as a meaningful element of design and layout in all media. Plus, this comprehensive guide features a complete glossary of terms, two fascinating timelines, and much more.

Handwritten: Expressive Lettering in the Digital Age - An introduction by design historian Steven Heller places the contemporary work in a broader context of design. At the heart of the book are hundreds of examples, presented in creative themes: “˜scrawl’; “˜scratch’; “˜stitch’; “˜simulate’; “˜shadow’; “˜suggestive’; and “˜sarcastic’.

Logo Font & Lettering Bible: A Comprehensive Guide to the Design, Construction and Usage of Alphabets and Symbols - This book is a hands-on guide to the entire process of making logos and fonts and even icons, all of which, essentially, start with the ability to draw letterforms. The intent of the book, in fact, is to enable the user to end reliance on “OPF” (other people’s fonts) and learn to draw your own custom logos, fonts and lettering! This book has been almost unanimously acclaimed by professional letterers, logo designers and font creators, both young and old. It is currently in use as a text in many typography programs and several Design college educators have stated it is one of the few texts that “students are actually happy about having to purchase.”

A Smile in the Mind - This book gathers together the best examples of graphic wit over the past three decades. It includes work from over 300 designers in North America, Britain, Europe and Japan, offering designers a friendly read, a helpful source book, and a trigger for ideas. Highly recommended.

Paperwork (Phaidon Colour Library) - hardcover won acclaim: this paperback edition will reach new audiences with a more affordable price tag and an excellent display of design works from around the world.

Typography Now: The Next Wave - First published in 1991 to wide acclaim, Typography Now: The Next Wave rapidly established itself as the one indispensable guide to new experimental typography. Now available in paperback, this is the ground-breaking international survey that plotted the changing landscape of letter forms - from anti-professionalism of Edward Fella to the neo-modernist rigour of 8VO, from Zuzana Licko’s Emigre fonts to Barry Deck’s type for an imperfect world, from the extraordinary, deconstructed telephone book to seminal projects from Cranbrook Academy of Art.

Pen and Mouse: Commercial Art and Digital Illustration - Much has been said about how the computer has murdered creativity. More has been said about how everything that comes out of it, or looks like it came out of it, is great. Pen and Mouse reflects a third attitude that traditional technologies and the computer come together to produce great work. And great work is what is inside, the variety, intelligence, and beauty of which can shift the imagination of any visual artist. Alongside these works there are over 40 interviews breaking apart the titles of illustrator, designer, and artist and presenting a multifaceted answer to that age-old question of the relationship between craft and technology.

Business Cards: The Art of Saying Hello (Business Cards) - Over 300 cards are grouped into sections reflecting different design approaches: Typography, Photography, Materials, Illustration and Found Objects. Proving just how inventive you can be with a limited space, this book is a rich source of ideas and inspiration both for designers and anyone wishing to make a statement with their business card.

David Carson: 2nd Sight: Grafik Design After the End of Print - While The End of Print showed the world Carson’s radical new approach, his rejection of the traditional ‘rules’ of communication, 2ndsight examines the creative process behind the work, and considers the broader implications of his intuitive approach to graphic design. Intuition is central to the book’s thesis, and its meaning and influence is explored both in Lewis Blackwell’s writing and in the evocative texts by leading designers and thinkers interspersed throughout the book.

Soak Wash Rinse Spin - Soak Wash Rinse Spin investigates the cycles of the Tolleson Design creative process through a textual and graphic layering of information involving four phases: research (the intake of as much information as they can gather), collaboration (with the client and with the other members of the creative team), visual exploration (the workbook process, which includes refinements and the examination of multiple options), and environmental influences (consideration of the ultimate purpose of the solution).

Life Style - More manifesto than monograph, Life Style is the first book to document Bruce Mau’s creative process and studio practice. Written by Mau and designed by his firm, the book is a singular album of perceptive, always thought-provoking, and often playful statements about the visual and cultural trends that influence today’s design culture. This collection of essays, observations, and personal anecdotes interspersed with project documentation manifests Mau’s unique world view and his belief that form and content are inseparable.

Los Logos - A book that is a definite ‘must have’ for each and every graphic designer in the world.

Tres Logos - Tres Logos is a state of the art visual encyclopedia on the current state and evolution of Logo Design.

The Creative Business Guide to Running a Graphic Design Business - This is the graphic design industry’s go-to guide for operating a successful business. The four sections cover organization, marketing, personnel, and operations, and provide the necessary tools unique to the specific management styles and operation agendas of a design firm. A complete appendix of business forms is also included.

Graphic Design Solutions, Third Edition - Outlines step-by-step procedures readers can apply to solve design or advertising problems. Includes projects and exercises throughout. Contains more than 275 full-color illustrations. Provides web design, web logos, annual reports, branding, and portfolio projects.

Visual Workout: Creativity Workbook - This one-of-a-kind workbook for graphic designers, which may be used independently or in conjunction with Graphic Design Solutions, 2E by Robin Landa, will stimulate your imagination and enable you to flex your creative design muscles. The exercises in this workbook expand upon graphic design applications and each exercise presents a creative problem intended to stimulate visual thinking, encourage sketching and ideas, and, most importantly, prompt you to try new approaches.

Business and Legal Forms for Graphic Designers (3rd Edition) - For designers who are about to set up their own office or for those who feel their design practices lack real organization, this book could be immensely helpful. It provides straightforward information, a usable business system as well as a variety of business and legal forms that can be copied and put into immediate practice in any graphic design studio

Graphic Designer’s Guide to Pricing, Estimating & Budgeting Revised Edition - This brand-new and completely updated edition offers practical guidelines for setting rates, dealing with clients’ budgets, preparing an estimate, and establishing profitability. Readers will also discover step-by-step strategies for pricing on the Internet, negotiating effective pricing with clients, and developing options to traditional pricing. Plus, the easy-to-read sidebars throughout this valuable guide offer dozens of creative, resourceful success tips for running a top-notch business.

Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines (Graphic Artists Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines) - Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines, 11th Edition is the industry bible, containing information all graphic artists and their clients need to buy and sell work in a totally professional manner. This edition has been revised and updated to provide all the information you need to compete in an industry moving at lightning speed.

Real World Print Production (Real World) - Translating inspiration to the printed page has always been a challenge. The advent of desktop publishing granted new levels of power and control to the layout artist and graphic designer, but it hasn’t eliminated the traditional pitfalls. In fact, it’s introduced a few new ones. Sometimes managing the disparate elements of fonts, images, colors, and more, while dealing with the quirks of various layout applications makes even the bravest designer and production editor long for the hands-on days of moveable type.

Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students (Design Briefs) - This is a well-structured and well-written text with refreshing examples from a wide range of designers. These examples reinforce the concept that successful design and typography come from critical thinking and that there is no one style or approach that is “correct.”

Color Design Workbook: A Real-World Guide to Using Color in Graphic Design - Color Design Workbook invites readers to explore color through the language of professionals. As part of the Workbook series, this book aims to present readers with the fundamentals of graphic design. It supplies tips regarding how to talk to clients about color and using color in presentations. Background information on color such as certain cultural meanings is also included. Color Design Workbook breaks down color theory into straightforward terms, eliminating unintelligible jargon and showcases the work of top designers and the brilliant and inspiring use of color in their design work.

Design for Communication: Conceptual Graphic Design Basics - Text encourages students to develop and master the basic conceptual thinking and technical skills that distinguish graphic designers from desktop technicians. Offers an appreciation and understanding of visual elements and principles of design through creative assignments that encourage experimentation and the development of personal methodology.

How To Be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul - How should designers manage the creative process? What’s the first step in the successful interpretation of a brief? How do you generate ideas when everything just seems blank? How to be a graphic designer offers clear, concise guidance for these questions, along with focused, no-nonsense strategies for setting up, running, and promoting a studio, finding work, and collaborating with clients.

The Anatomy of Design: Uncovering the Influences and Inspirations in Modern Graphic Design - An iconic collection of design work presented in fresh and useful format. The selections include all kinds of design work including posters, book and record covers, packages, catalog covers, and more.

Starting Your Career as a Freelance Illustrator or Graphic Designer - If you get overwhelmed by the image you may have of what the life of a freelance illustrator is like, read this book. It is encouraging, while also being very practical. It tells you that you can start a career as a freelancer, but with a few practical IFs attached. Follow his advice and answer his questions honestly. Then ,if practical, take a deep breath, jump in and have a blast at FINALLY doing something with your life that you LOVE.

Fingerprint: The Art of Using Handmade Elements in Graphic Design - Inside you’ll find examples of work that showcase a variety of design methods, including mixed media, illustration, letterpress, screenprinting and collage. You’ll find inspiration in examples from outstanding designers and see how traditional elements can make a more powerful statement than anesthesized computer-only work. Fingerprint also includes insightful essays on the power of the handmade by Debbie Millman, Jean Orlebeke, Jim Sherraden, Martin Venezky and Ross Macdonald.

The Graphic Design Business Book - What graphic designers need is The Graphic Design Business Book, packed with directly relevant strategies for creating a business plan, managing a studio, presenting portfolios, marketing on the Web, keep clients happy, and more, including sample contract forms and listings of professional organizations””all contributed by experts in their fields. Every graphic designer needs a copy of The Graphic Design Business Book.

Notes on Graphic Design and Visual Communication - Notes on Graphic Design and Visual Communication is the most essential graphic design book written. Despite being very thin in quantity of pages, this book holds an enormous amount of graphic knowledge. This book is a great reference and reminder of the basic elements that make graphic design and visual communication effective! Every student in any graphic design program should buy this book!

Type, Image, Message: A Graphic Design Layout Workshop -This book changes all it. It gives designers the practical know-how to combine type and image for dynamic effect as well as to use them in contrast to create tension and meaning in design. Creating strong layouts is the most important as well as the most challenging of any project. This book inspires through excellence by exhibiting great design work then deconstructing the processes in simple visual terms.

Making and Breaking the Grid: A Graphic Design Layout Workshop - Making and Breaking the Grid is a comprehensive layout design workshop that assumes that to effectively break the rules of grid-based design one must first understand those rules and see them applied to real-world projects.

Publication Design Workbook: A Real-World Guide to Designing Magazines, Newspapers, and Newsletters - Readers will develop a clear understanding of publication design through a comprehensive and accessible workshop-style format. Fundamentals of form and content are included, along with diagrams to further textual understanding. This is the most complete book for designers on applied publication design principles combined with an awe-inspiring collection of the best work from around the world.

U&lc : Influencing Design & Typography - U&lc magazine (Upper & lower case) was a defining voice in graphic design worldwide between 1970 and 1999. It was in some ways a lifestyle magazine for the desgin community providing a fascinating intersection of popular cultural and graphic design in the last quarter of the 20th century. The list of editorial contributors to U&lc is long, and many prominent designers worked on designing entire issues. Their best work is showcased in this book through the reproduction of selected covers, stories and illustrations from the nearly 120 quarterly issues that were published. This book also contains an introduction and four informal but in-depth chapters on the background, context, use of design and typography, and the people involved in making U&lc happen over the years.

Layout Workbook: A Real-World Guide to Building Pages in Graphic Design - More than a collection of great examples of layout, this book is an invaluable resource for students, designers, and creative professionals who seek design understanding and inspiration. The book illuminates the broad category of layout, communicating specifically what it takes to design with excellence. It also addresses the heart of design-the how and why of the creative process.

Wolfgang Weingart: My Way to Typography - The book itself is a lesson on layout and impeccable typesetting. Mr weingart lead us in a trip through tipographics arts, the book is an outstanding example of engineering freedoom, A R T. I flip the book for less than 2 minutes,enough to know this is the kind of book you have and you travel with it every once in a while. a book with an incredible echo.

The Designers Complete Index (Boxed Set) - This super-cool boxed set contains all three of Jim Krause’s best-selling “Index” books, including Idea Index (graphic effects and typographic treatments), Layout Index (your secret weapon for effective, dynamic layouts) and Color Index (over 1100 color combinations with CMYK and RGB formulas). Each volume is packed with hundreds of stimulating ideas, creative solutions and practical instructions.

Paul Rand: A Designer`s Art - This is not a tutorial or a how to, but a why. Why things work, why they don’t, and why it is important to know about its history. Learn the importance of this medium, its impact on industry, and its place in the arts.

Design with Type - Design with Type takes the reader through a study of typography that starts with the individual letter and proceeds through the word, the line, and the mass of text. The contrasts possible with type are treated in detail, along with their applications to the typography ofbooks, advertising, magazines, and information data. The various contending schools oftypography are discussed, copiously illustrated with the author’s selection of over 150 examples of imaginative typography from many parts ot the world.

[tags]graphic design books, desig books, top design books, best design books, typography books, books[/tags]

Bookmark and Share

DID YOU LIKE THIS DESIGN POST? IF SO, PLEASE HELP US BY ADDING US AS ONE OF YOUR TECHNORATI FAVORITES AND BY ADDING OUR ARTICLES TO YOUR FAVORITE SOCIAL BOOKMARKING SITES (BELOW)


del.icio.us | Digg it | Furl | ma.gnolia | Netscape | RawSugar | reddit | Simpy | StumbleUpon | Yahoo MyWeb |
Post a Comment or Leave a Trackback

7 Comments

  1. Posted April 30, 2007 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for publishing this thought-provoking list!!! Many of these titles are the industry standards I’d expect to see on any well-read designer’s list of favorites. But you’ve also included some quirkier books - such as “A Smile in the Mind” that are a real unexpected treat, even for a veteran studio owner like myself!

  2. Posted December 11, 2007 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    This book definitely should be on that list - Adrian Frutiger - Signs and Symbols: Their Design and Meaning.

  3. Posted January 30, 2008 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    The Elements of Typographic Style is incredible. I’ve seen two decent books on typography - this one and The Complete Manual of Typography by James Felici. The Complete Manual is somewhat less adventurous but more comprehensive.

  4. Posted August 11, 2009 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    WOW, this’ll keep me busy for years. I’ve been subscribing to your RSS feed for months, but somehow I missed this great list.

  5. Jess
    Posted November 17, 2009 at 12:28 am | Permalink

    Wow, I’ve got quite a bit of reading to do! Thanks for the great list.

  6. Posted September 30, 2010 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this great list of offline resources. I’m always nervous about buying design books because you never know if it is just going to be the same old stuff or something that you can’t live without. Also, I’m glad that you posted some books on the business and marketing sides of things. It’s so important these days to know both the business and design elements in order to be successful. I think I’ll have to pick a few of these up!

  7. Nirasha
    Posted November 7, 2010 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much for the list. You have saved my time.

4 Trackbacks

  1. [...] List of top essential graphic design books from All Graphic Design [...]

  2. [...] I decided to compile a list of the best graphic design career and business books collected from reading people’s favorites listed on forum posts and blogs. I came up with the following graphic design career and business books. This list contains books that seem to be essential to many graphic designers and these books would be an asset to any graphic designers’ library. If you believe that we missed a book that should be listed here, then please comment about it. Don’t forget to read the Part I of this article - List of Top Essential Graphic Design Books. [...]

  3. [...] There are a ton of books out there that were made just for people that have designer’s block. The authors of most of these books have compiled huge amounts of graphi design work into one comprehensive picture book. These are often sorted to help you find a specific idea or theme. Just don’t underestimate the power of any ole’ books, even novels, comic books, and short stories can also help get you out of slump. Here is a great list of graphic design books. [...]

  4. By Adept > What’s your favorite design book? on May 29, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    [...] List of top essential graphic design books from All Graphic Design [...]

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

About Us | FAQs | Contact Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy

All website design, text, graphics, selection and arrangement thereof, and software are the copyrighted works of Allfreelance, © 2003 - 2014 QuinStreet, Inc.