15+ Creative Books that Should be Read by Every Graphic Designer

Last Updated: May 05, 2021 By

There are many incredible books available about graphic designing which offer insight, inspiration, and key techniques. In this day and age, digital information is easy to access, versatile, and expansive. Yet, the power of a good book cannot be replaced by the internet.

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As an aspiring graphic designer, well-written material can help you out immensely. You can take a short refresher course in the field by reading about the basic principles and methods. These books can also be useful to refine already existing skills or to simple recharge your creativity.

Whatever your need to learn about when it comes to graphic design, our list of books is sure to cover. We have compiled here everything from classics to modern writings to help you find exactly what suits you. So, without further ado, dive into some of the best texts out there that cover the premise of graphic design.

1. Designing Brand Identity

Author: Michael Johnson

Publisher: Thames and Hudson

This bestseller has also been recently updated to fit in new information. This has been a fifth update of the book and it now covers even more new topics than before. These include crowdsourcing, experience branding, cross channel social media synergy, placemaking, wayfinding and more. The book is divided into three main sections which are case studies, brand fundamentals, and process basics. Insightful guidance is provided in the text for both branding teams and designers.

2. Logo Modernism

Author: Jens Muller

Publisher: Taschen GmbH

This book is an unparalleled collection of trademarks. Taschen has produced some other truly amazing books and this one is no different. It features approximately six thousand trademarks which were registered during 1940-80. Muller observes the incorporation of modernism in designing. Also, how these imperatives and attitudes come together to form a corporate identity. Logo Modernism also spans along three chapters: effect, geometric and typographic.

3. Branding: In Five and a Half Steps

Author: Michael Johnson

Publisher: Thames and Hudson

The branding process is demystified in this book by Michael Johnson, who is an expert on graphic design. For clear and easy understanding, the book is divided into five basic steps:

  • Investigation
  • Strategy
  • Design
  • Implementation
  • Engagement

The volume has a straightforward structure modeled around six key questions in the first half, and design process in the second. It uses more than a thousand global modern brand identities to convey the message.

4. 50 Best Logos Ever

Author: Various

Publisher: Future Publishing

The book sheds light on the most iconic logos that come into being on a global scale. The compilation is the collected effort of leading identity designers and branding experts. Going through it, we can understand how much work is dedicated into the creative procedure. All logo designers can find useful and inspirational knowledge within these pages.

5. The Elements of Typographic Style

Author: Robert Bringhurst

Publisher: Hartley & Marks

Written by Canadian poet, typographer, and translator Robert Bringhurst, this edition is a major resource for typography. It has received the review of being “the finest book ever written about typography” by experts of the field. The manual is written beautifully and combines historical, theoretical, and practical information. Alongside it also displays a deeper understanding and philosophy of the subject. If you on the lookout for a book which covers the details of typography, then this one is ideal.

6. 100 Best Typefaces Ever

Author: Various

Publisher: Future Publishing

Creating a typeface today demands a lot of labor, consisting of vast research and numerous refinement and appraisal phases. A functional digital typeface also needs more than five hundred characters. Through software though, it is easier for anyone with the basic knowledge of designing to learn this art. The best fonts are chosen to be featured in this book put together by a number of expert sources. Apart from the list, there is also background information provided on each of them.

7. The Art of Looking Sideways

Author: Alan Fletcher

Publisher: Phaidon Press

Fletcher, as the well-known cofounder of Pentagram, has written various other books during his brilliant graphic designing career. But none other is as popular as The Art of Looking Sideways. It questions every single aspect of the thought process of designers. He brings everything from color selection to composition into the light for readers to understand fully. The book is chock full of wise thoughts and advice and has some wonderful eye-catching graphics as well.

8. Why Fonts Matter

Author: Sarah Hyndman

Publisher: Virgin Books

A great volume for learning the science at work behind typography. Hyndman explores how fonts impact the things we read, and the choices made under its influence. The book reveals how different fonts are capable of provoking different responses. It teaches you to master the art of influencing your audience through using the type design suited for your purpose. You will also learn interesting typeface attributes like how it can even change the taste of food for us!

9. Show Your Work!

Author: Austin Kleon

Publisher: Workman Publishing Company

If you want advice on how to build a name in the design industry, then here is the perfect guide for you.Kleon has inspired many freelancers through his insightful guidance. Having a talent is one thing, but the most excellent designers cannot succeed without displaying their work. This text shows you how you can find audiences and build a place for yourself.

10. Work Hard and Be Nice to People

Author: Anthony Burrill

Publisher: Pop Press

Inspired by typographic prints popular throughout the world, Burrill offers some brief and sharply delivered advice. He does not beat around the bush with his message and comes straight to the point. The words might be concise, yet they affect you in a big way as they come from the heart. A personal account which is truly inspirational and sheds light on the value of creativity. Along with relating how you can succeed without having to compromise your principles or treating other badly on the way.

11. How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul

Author: Adrian Shaughnessy

Publisher: Laurence King Publishing

We recommend this as a staple read for anyone who has recently become a graphic designer. Shaughnessy provides sound advice regarding employment, freelancing, entrepreneurship, client dealing, pitching your ideas and much more. The content is written intelligently in an easy to read manner. There are mentions of various luminaries like Natalie Hunter, Andy Cruz, John Warwick, and Neville Brody to get the message across.

12. How to…

Author: Michael Bierut

Publisher: Harper Design

This interesting and highly inspirational monograph, manifesto, and manual was release in 2015. Beirut is a protege of the legendary name in the world of design, Massimo Vignelli. He has illustrated the different roles played by graphic designing in the modern world. Often enough our rejected projects and rough sketches pile alongside finished creatives. The book delves into the details of these processes and brings informative resources to both established and new designers.

13. Graphic Design for…

Author: Andy Cooke

Publisher: Prestel

A guide which contains brand campaigns of the world’s leading design studios. It also features interviews of the involved creators which help understand them more. This is basically an indispensable manual on how contemporary commercial designing works. Being a designer himself Cooke knows which questions you need answers to. The stunning efforts of Ico Design, Freytag Anderson, and Studio Makgill are most admirably presented in the book. The content has all the updated knowledge you want to know about design development and collaborative projects.

14. Work for Money, Design for Love

Author: David Airey

Publisher: New Riders

Airey responds here to the questions most frequently asked about successfully operating a design business. This is a straightforward and refreshing take on the essentials required for building your own business. It touches everything from the mindset you need to basic operations and how to be your own boss. Work for Money is a must read if you are aiming to be a designer on your own turf.

15. Just My Type

Author: Simon Garfield

Publisher: Profile Books

It is a part of a designer’s training to examine and study different typefaces. But Simon Garfield invited you to look at them even more closely and minutely. He goes over their rich historical backgrounds as well as the powers each has. It is a wonderfully phrased conversation about typography and how it can enhance or destroy a design. Anyone, whether they are a graphic designer Dubai or from any other region can learn valuable information from this guide.

16. A Designer’s Art

Author: Paul Rand

Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press

Seen by many as one of the founders of contemporary branding, Paul Rand has written various books on the subject. In this work he digs deeper into the inner workings of a graphic design on the whole. It relates the impact of design on society, which strategies work and which don’t, and reasons behind that. The book also boasts an afterword written by design writer Steven Heller.

17. Graphic Design: A User’s Manual

Author: Adrian Shaughnessy

Publisher: Laurence King Publishing

Another one of Shaughnessy’s masterpieces which introduce you to complex parts of current practices in graphic design. It has all the knowledge you need to succeed in the rapidly altering realm of graphic designing. The manual is also very convenient in the sense that it is organized alphabetically. Topics include budgeting, kerning, annual reports and presenting among others. Written in an entertaining manner this resource is invaluable and packed with professional advice.

18. The Little Know-It-All

Author: Robert Klanton

Publisher: Die Gestalten Verlag

Do not judge this volume by its title or that its cover might remind one of a children’s book. This is probably the most helpful book a designer can have in their arsenal. Everything is covered in it from color and light, to perspective, law, and marketing. The chapters are succinct and carved beautifully. It is one of those books which you cannot stop reading till the last page. And one you will always reach out when in need of guidance.

19. Graphic Design: A History

Author: Stephen K Eskilson

Publisher: Laurence King Publishing

This engaging and informative historical depiction of graphic design is worth having. The new edition is full of more than five hundred images and includes a new chapter on current design trends. This can serve both as a hefty guide for a student or a coffee table volume for design agencies. Everything from valuable information to amazing visuals is offered within it.

Afterword

These were all the titles on our list which we recommend graphic designers to go through. Whether you want to focus on the basics or get overall knowledge about graphic design, it’s all there. The information can not only help you understand what graphic design is but also the intricacies behind it. It is as much a beautiful art as any other creative medium. Any graphic designer needs to comprehend its essence if they aim to be successful at it.

You can find all these books on Amazon.