Updated: May 24
From the beginning of time, books have been a classic and lasting source of knowledge for all levels of skill and for different budgets. Many self-taught graphic designers and creative professionals alike turn to books to find answers to specific questions, to improve their craft, or to find inspiration.
Read on to find my recommendations for books on graphic design.
How to be a Graphic Designer without Losing Your Soul
This trusted resource by Adrian Shaughnessy gives practical advice for self-taught graphic designers trying to figure out where to begin and what to do with your hands. It has a general overview on the philosophy you should set out with as well as how to start thinking about ways to monetize your craft. Are you thinking about starting your own studio or going freelance? Maybe you are just looking to do graphic design as a side hustle. Even if you are in a great position at an agency right now, this is a great read to go over the fundamentals of graphic design and the way to approach it.
Making and Breaking the Grid
Textbooks aren't just for the classroom. And if the thought of a textbook turns you off, then that's another reason to pick up this read! Making and Breaking the Grid by Timothy Samara analyzes grid-based design and illustrates how the creative processes sometimes pushes you to break traditional rules. The Grid™ doesn't always guarantee a great visual product and may not benefit every project.
Michael Bierut's How to use graphic design to sell things, explain things, make things look better, make people laugh, make people cry, and (every once in a while) change the world is a staple read that you probably have heard of before since it's so iconic. The title itself is a hint that the book describes the influence graphic design can have on the world around it.
Why Fonts Matter
Have you ever asked this question yourself? On the surface level, it’s clear that typography and fonts can affect the entire atmosphere of a visual. It can take on different aesthetics, and make something look very vintage or very modern. With the amount of power that fonts can have, it warrants some deeper diving. Why Fonts Matter by Sarah Hyndman outlines the “science behind how fonts influence how you read.” With 20 years of experience behind her, it’s worth hearing what she has to say!
Work for Money, Design for Love: Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Starting and Running a Successful Design Business (Voices That Matter)
This favorite by David Airey takes a straightforward approach to a philosophical discussion on how to go about your design career. Work for Money, Design for Love is a great read for those of you thinking of taking the leap to work for yourself. It offers advice not just from Airey himself - a self-employed graphic designer from Northern Ireland - but it also offers unique perspectives from a number of other creative professionals.
Graphic Design: The New Basics
This book by Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips is a great pick for those of you who may be trying to sharpen your graphic design vocabulary and fundamentals. Graphic Design: The New Basics walks through the key concepts of visual design as observed by educators and students alike. Its content is well-rounded, which also makes it a great pick if you are trying to pick just one book to buy before diving deeper.