The education of graphic designer has just begun when completing a school’s design curriculum or starting a career in the field. Very soon after entering the “real” world of graphic design most designers discover just how little they know about the business. Since beginning work as a professional graphic designer over 25 years ago I have been collecting a library of books on graphic design, and the business aspects of design, in an attempt to continually educate myself. In 1998 I began compiling a “suggested reading list” in response to emails I receive from designers around the world and for posting on various Internet design forums when requests for such resources arise. The list is constantly changing and evolving as I discover new resources and new books are published.
Creative Latitude offered to post the list as an easily accessible resource for all designers. The suggestions will be updated when new list possibilities catch the attention of myself, and others contributing to this site. It will also need to be revised upon publication of my own book, “The Savvy Designer’s Guide to Success; Ideas and tactics for a killer career,” when it is released by HOW Design Books in later 2004.
The recommended books are not the typical design annuals full of pretty pictures of design projects from around the world. Most are volumes jam-packed with valuable information from those with years of experience in various areas of the design industry. The design annuals may be great for inspiring designers, but the books on my reading list are suggested for the “continuing education” of designers of all ages and levels of experience.
A number of the books listed may be “out of print” or difficult to find. These resources may be found in local university of city libraries. Used copies may be discovered online at sites like ABE.com, Alibris.com, Amazon.com, Half.com, Powells.com, TatteredCover.com, or through Internet auction sites like eBay.
This is a list of my personal favorites and books I have found valuable in my own career. In each case these are books I have read, reviewed or flipped through at a bookstore. If your favorite design book (or even one you have written) is not on this list, it may be that I have just not come across a copy of it yet. At the time of this list being posted online an Amazon.com search for “graphic design” resulted in over 6500 book references. My hope is that this list helps make your selection of good graphic design books a bit less overwhelming.
CREATIVITY: All designers do occasionally experience “designer’s block” or difficulty in explaining aspects of design to others. The following books may give a designer a needed kick in the rear-end.
A Whack on the Side of the Head!: How you can be more creative, by Roger von Oech
Breaking Designer’s Block: 301 Graphic Solutions, by Rockport Publishers
Creative Sparks: An Index of 150 + Concepts, Images and Exercises to Ignite Your Design Ingenuity, by Jim Krause
Creative Utopia: 12 Ways to Realize Total Creativity, by Theo Stephan Williams
Creativity for Graphic Designers, by Mark Oldach
Designers in Handcuffs, by Pat Matson Knapp
Graphically Speaking: A to Z guide to Visual Lingo, by Lisa Buchanan
Idea Revolution, by Clare Warmke
Thinking Creatively: New ways to unlock your visual imagination, by Robin Landa
Using Design Basics to Get Creative Results, by Bryan L. Peterson
Visual Thesaurus: A Quick-Flip Brainstorming Tool for Graphic Designers, by Chris Goveia & Hatmaker
BUSINESS OF DESIGN: Designers are notoriously bad business people. Most design schools simply do not teach students how to run a business operation prior to sending them out into the big, bad world. Many of the following books are “must haves” for the designer striking out on their own or just wanting a better understanding of the business aspects of the industry.
AIGA Professional Practices in Graphic Design
Becoming a Graphic Designer: A Guide to Careers in Design, by Steven Heller, Teresa Fernandes
Business and Legal Forms for Graphic Designers, by Tad Crawford and Eva Doman Bruck (with a CD of business form templates)
Digital Design Business Practices: For Graphic Designers and Their Clients, by Liane Sebastian
Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing and Ethical Guidelines
Graphic Designer’s Guide to Pricing, Estimating & Budgeting, by Theo Stephan Williams
The Business of Graphic Design, by Ed Gold
The Business Side of Creativity, by Cameron Foote
The Creative Business Guide to Running a Graphic Design Business, by Cameron Foote.
The Graphic Designer’s Guide to Clients: How to Make Clients Happy and do Great Work, Ellen Shapiro
MARKETING: To be successful in graphic design a designer must know how to sell themselves and their work. The listed books will assist any creative type in establishing a marketing plan for greater success. Some of the recommended books are not design-specific. However, all are great resources for the design businessperson.
BRAG! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It, by Peggy Klaus
Designers’ Self Promotion: How Designers and Design Companies Attract Attention to Themselves, by Roger Walton
Footnotes: What You Stand For Is More Important Than What You Stand In, by Kenneth Cole
Get Noticed!, by Sheree Clark
HOW Magazine’s Annual Self-Promotion and Business issues
Off The Wall Marketing Ideas, by Nancy Michaels & Debbi J. Karpowicz
Shameless Exploitation in Pursuit of the Common Good: The Madcap Business Adventure by the Truly Oddest Couple, by Paul Newman and A.E. Hotchner
Self Promotion Online, by Ilise Benun
Self-Promotion for the Creative Person: Get the Word Out About Who You Are and What You Do, by Lee Silber
The Graphic Designer’s Guide to Creative Marketing: Finding & Keeping Your Best Clients, by Linda Cooper Bowen
TYPOGRAPHY: The world of typography is much more complicated than just going online to purchase, or download, fonts. Many designers know little of the history of type or how it actually works in communicating a message. The suggested books will add to a designer’s education on the subject.
An Introduction to the History of Printing Types: An Illustrated Summary of the Main Stages in the Development of Type Design; by Geoffrey Dowding
Designing with Type: A Basic Course in Typography, by James Craig
Logo, Font & Lettering Bible, by Leslie Cabarga
Printing Types: An Introduction, by Alexander Lawson
Printing Types: Their History, Forms, and Use, by Daniel Berkeley Updike
Rookledge’s International Directory of Type Designers
Stop Stealing Sheep and Find Out How Type Works, by Erik Spiekermann
The Elements of Typographic Style, by Robert Bringhurst
The Non-Designer’s Type Book: Insights and Techniques for Creating Professional-Level Type, by Robin Williams
Type Rules!, by Ilene Strizver
GRAPHIC DESIGN HISTORY/INDIVIDUAL DESIGNERS: I come in contact with a great many designers who know little about the history of graphic design. Some do not recognize the names of pioneers or icons in our industry. The following selections will help give a designer some historical perspective of the career field of choice and an introduction to some of my favorite designers.
A History of Graphic Design, by Philip B. Meggs
Art Is Work: Graphic Design, Interiors, Objects, and Illustrations, by Milton Glaser
Frank Lloyd Wright: Graphic Artist, by Penny Fowler
Graphic Design, by Milton Glaser
Graphic Design: A Concise History (World of Art), by Richard Hollis
Graphic Design Time Line: A Century of Design Milestones, by Steven Heller, Elinor Pettit
Hatch Show Print: The History of a Great American Poster Shop, by Jim Sherraden
Josef Muller-Brockmann: Pioneer of Swiss Graphic Design, by Lars Muller (Editor)
Paul Rand: A Designer’s Art, by Paul Rand
Paul Rand, by Steven Heller, Jessica Helfand
Some People Can’t Surf: The Graphic Design of Art Chantry, by Julie Lasky
Swiss Graphic Design, by Robert Klanten (Editor)
The Graphic Art of Michael Schwab, by Michael Schwab
GRAPHIC DESIGN TECHNIQUES: Every once in a while a design refresher course is a great idea. These books cover a variety of ‘basics” in the field of graphic design.
Basics of Design: Typography and Layout, by Lisa Graham
Color Index: Over 1,100 Color Combinations, CMYK and RGB Formulas, for Print and Web Media, by Jim Krause
Designer’s Survival Manual: The Insider’s Guide to Working With Illustrators, Photographers, Printers, Web Engineers, and More, by Poppy Evans
Design Basics: Ideas and Inspiration for Working with Layout, Type, and Color in Graphic Design, by Joyce Rutter Kaye
Graphic Design Cookbook: Mix & Match Recipes for Faster, Better Layouts, by Leonard Koren
Graphic Design School, by Alan Swann
Graphic Design Solutions, by Robin Landa
How to Understand and Use Design and Layout (Graphic Designers Library), by Alan Swann
Idea Index: Graphic Effects and Typographic Treatments, by Jim Krause
The 7 Essentials of Graphic Design by Allison Goodman
DESIGNING ON A BUDGET: Budget considerations are always a concern for a designer - no matter what size the project. These books will give readers ideas on how to cut costs without cutting design quality.
Design Sense: Graphic Design on a Limited Budget, by Anastatia R. Miller
Fresh Ideas in Limited Budget Design: An Eye Opener, by Betsy Newberry
PRODUCTION/PREPRESS: Although it was predicted years ago, the “end of print” has not arrived. An individual preparing a design piece for the printing press should always communicate directly with the print house prior to finalizing the digital files for any job. The suggested books will help any designer to convey what they are trying to achieve.
Alleviating Prepress Anxiety: How to Manage Your Print Projects for Savings, Schedule and Quality, by Ann Goodheart
Getting It Printed: How to Work With Printers and Graphic Imaging Services to Assure Quality, Stay on Schedule and Control, by Mark Beach & Eric Kenly
Graphic Designer’s Digital Printing and Prepress Handbook, by Connie Sidles
Great Production by Design, by Connie Sidles
Pocket Guide to Digital Prepress, by Frank J. Romano
Pocket Guide to Digital Printing by Frank Cost
Pocket Pal, by International Paper Company
Production for Graphic Designers, by Alan Pipes
Professional Prepress, Printing, and Publishing, by Frank J. Romano
IDENTITY DESIGN: Not everyone is passionate about designing logos but I’m always being asked for possible resources about my favorite area of design.
Blue is Hot; Red is Cool: Choosing the right color for your logo, by David Carter
Bullet-Proof Logos: creating great designs which avoid legal problems, by David E. Carter
Corporate Identity Manuals (1976), by David E. Carter
Designing Corporate Identity Programs for Small Corporations, by David E. Carter
Designing Corporate Identity: Graphic Design As a Business Strategy, by Pat Matson Knapp
Designer’s Guide to Creating Corporate Identity Systems, by Rose DeNeve
Designing Identity, by Marc English
Design It Yourself Logos, Letterheads, & Business Cards, by Chuck Green
Designing Pictorial Symbols, by Nigel Holmes
How to Design Logos & Trademarks, by John Murphy & Michael Rowe
How to Design Logos, Symbols & Icons: 23 Internationally Renowned Studios Reveal How They Develop Trademarks for Print and New Media, by Gregory Thomas
Identity Design Sourcebook: Successful IDs Deconstructed and Revealed, by Rockport Publishers
Identity Solutions, by Cheryl Cullen & Amy Schell
What Logos Do and How They Do It, by Anistasia R. Miller & Jared M. Brown
Redesigning Identity, by Catharine Fishel
TM, Trademarks Designed by Chermayeff & Geismar, by Ivan Chermayeff
BRANDING: The most recent new “buzz word” in design is “branding.” The following resources will help answer many of the questions designers may have about this redefined aspect of the industry.
The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design, by Marty Neumeier
Branding: Brand Strategy, Design and Implementation of Corporate and Product Identity (Design Directories), by Helen Vaid
Challenging the Big Brands: How New Brands Win Market Share with Innovative Design. by Judith Evans & Cheryl Dangel Cullen
Designing Brand Identity: A Complete Guide to Creating, Building, and Maintaining Strong Brands, by Alina Wheeler
Designing Brands: Market Success through Graphic Distinction, by Emily Schrubbe-Potts
CULTURAL CONSIDERATIONS: In many situations even the local market will be international in scope. Designing with cultural considerations is becoming increasingly important.
Designing Across Cultures, by Ronnie Lipton
Global Graphics: Color - Designing with Color for an International Market, by L. K. Peterson
Global Graphics: Symbols - Designing with Symbols for an International Market, by Anistatia R. Miller
The Designer’s Guide to Global Color Combinations, by Leslie Cabarga
RESTAURANT GRAPHIC DESIGN: Another unique area of graphic design is the creation of images and materials for the restaurant industry. I often get requests for resources on this topic.
Logos of Bars and Restaurants, by David E. Carter
May I Take Your Order?: American Menu Design 1920-1960, by Jim Heimann
Menu Design, by Judi Radice
Restaurant & Food Graphics, by Judi Radice Hays
Restaurant Graphics: From Matchbooks to Menus, by Rockport Publishers
Restaurant Graphics 2, by Rockport Publishers
Retail & Restaurant (Design Library), by Rockport Publishers
Terence Conran on Restaurants, by Terence Conran
The Best in Restaurant Corporate Identity, by Stafford Cliff
WEB SITE DESIGN: These are not books about the technical aspects of web design, but rather in how to make web sites work well for you and your clients.
Designing Websites for Every Audience. by Ilise Benun
Professional Web Site Design from Start to Finish, by Anne-Marie Concepcion
Web Design That Works: Secrets for Successful Web Design, by Lisa Baggerman
GENERAL GRAPHIC DESIGN: The following recommended volumes don’t necessarily fit into specific categories. Still, they would be great additions to any personal design library.
Confessions of an Advertising Man, by David Ogilvy
Design Basics for Creative Results, 2nd Edition, by Bryan Peterson
Design Literacy: Understanding Graphic Design, by Steven Heller
Design of Advertising, by Roy Paul Nelson
It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be, by Paul Arden
The Design of Everyday Things, Donald Norman
The Education of a Graphic Designer, by Steven Heller
The Nature of Design, by Peg Faimon & John Weigand
The Non-Designer’s Design Book, by Robin Williams
Visual Literacy: A Conceptual Approach to Graphic Problem Solving, by Judith Wilde & Richard Wilde