Graphic design

Top 10 Books Every Graphic Designer Should Read

6 Mins read

Graphic designing is a field that has gained popularity over the years due to an increase in branding standards. As a graphic designer, you need to be updated with the latest trends in graphic designing. For starters, first impression matters. How a first-time visitor connects with your brand will set the tone for that business relationship. Secondly, being creative eliminates competition, making you more sought after.

It is therefore advisable to read graphics design books to become more knowledgeable in the field. These books can be accessed online or own them physically. Apart from reading these books,  you can find hundreds of free online design tools to better your skills and make you stand out.

Here are the top 10 graphic designing books every graphic designer must read

  • Making and Breaking the Grid: A Graphic Design Layout Workshop by Timothy Samara (Jul 1, 2017)
  • Big Brand Theory by Sandu Publishing (Oct 20, 2011)
  • Package Design Workbook: The Art and Science of Successful Packaging by Steven Dupuis and John Silva (Jun 1, 2011)
  • The Elements of Graphic Design by Alex W. White (Mar 15, 2011)
  • UI is Communication by Everett N. McKay (Jun 25, 2013)
  • Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team by Alina Wheeler (Nov 6, 2012)
  • Los Logos 7 by Robert Klanten (Sep 12, 2014)
  • Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students by Ellen Lupton (Oct 6, 2010)
  • Type Matters! By Jim Williams (May 1, 2012)
  • Above the Fold: Understanding the Principles of Successful Web Site Design by Brian D. (Millers Feb 15, 2011)

1. Making and Breaking the Grid: A Graphic Design Layout Workshop by Timothy Samara (Jul 1, 2017)

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This book analyses the construction of grids in graphic designs. It is divided into two categories;

  • The first part deals with the creation of grids and how to use them.
  • The second part entails the deconstruction of grids. This section encompasses secret approaches which do not require the designer to obey the rules of deconstruction.

The first pages of the book will have you immersed in the history of grids and how they have played a significant role in enhancing graphic design.

The book is also the most suitable for designers who would like to further their understanding of grid-based designs.

2. Big Brand Theory by Sandu Publishing

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Big Brand Theory is a fantastic compilation that features campaigns from high-ranking branding companies. It highlights the components of successful branding. The book provides verified case studies for globally famous brands such as Starbucks, Adidas, Nike, Levis, H&M, among others. 

Each branding concept that has been examined explains the elements that were incorporated during campaigns. For instance, Nike’s campaigns applied the following branding concepts:

  • Posters
  • Giveaways
  • Retail bags
  • High-end products
  • Custom packaging

The above factors worked for Nike. Each brand is different. To know what will work for your brand, you need to get a hand on this book.   

3. Package Design Workbook: The Art and Science of Successful Packaging by Steven Dupuis and John Silva

Freelancing - Package Design

Package Design Workbook deeply looks into the concepts of packaging. It is divided into three major categories for easier understanding. The first category deals with the history of package design. The second category offers tips on how to come up with packaging design, and the techniques you can apply. The last category consists of case studies. Here, you can easily find a case study similar to what you have in mind. This will enable you to come up with your concept in package designing.  

4. The Elements of Graphic Design by Alex W. White

Freelancing - The Element Of Graphic Design

The Elements of Graphic Design is more of an introductory book to the world of design. It is the best choice for an upcoming graphic designer as it captures the most fundamental aspects of designing. 

One of the reasons why it outshines most graphic design books is that it has a unique layout. This is quite attractive to the eye, and it makes it hard to put the book down. Readers get to experience first-hand examples from the book. For instance, the author illustrates the patterns in depth. He has also incorporated powerful quotes to add emphasis on the topic at hand.

The book can be beneficial to professional graphic designers who would want to expand their knowledge of graphic design. The imagery is both captivating and inspiring

5. UI is Communication by Everett N. McKay

Freelancing - Ui Communication

User Interface is a demanding activity that requires a deep understanding of techniques that may conflict. In this book, graphic designers get to learn how to design instinctive interfaces by emphasizing effective communication. A user interface is basically how humans and machines communicate. When properly designed, the machines will be able to communicate naturally and efficiently to users. 

Effective user interfaces also acknowledge the fact that the users being communicated with are emotional creatures. As such, an excellent user interface strives to form that emotional connection with the user.

6. Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team by Alina Wheeler

Freelancing - Designing Brand Identity

The process of branding is a complex one that must be done in stages. In her book, Alina Wheeler outlines these stages as follows:

  • Coming up with a suitable image in reference to the nature of the company
  • Building the framework
  • Appropriate examples to help bring your concept to life

The book outlines five steps of identifying the quality of your brand ranging from research all the way to brand identification. Designing Brand Identity is an excellent tool for both beginners and established graphic designers in Dubai

7. Los Logos 7 by Robert Klanten

Freelancing - Los Logos 7

Los Logos 7 forms part of the book series ‘Los Logos’. From the title, you can tell that it deals with logo designing. The book is bestselling and has recognized award-winning graphic designers as the inspiration behind it. 

This book is a comprehensive report of the styles and visuals incorporated by graphic designers all over the world. It gives tips on how to find inspiration when designing a logo. Of course, various factors have to be put into consideration, such as:

  • The target audience
  • The information conveyed
  • The nature of the client company

The underlying principle behind Los Logos 7 is that less is more. In a bid to stand out, graphic designers nowadays forgo realistic textures, images, and gradients. They seem to forget that the end product must always look as authentic as possible. This book brings about the connection between authenticity and exaggeration. It contains practical examples to aid the graphic designer in coming up with a logo

8. Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students by Ellen Lupton

Freelancing - Thinking With Type

Thinking with Type is one of the bestselling books in graphic design. While the language may be a bit complex, the book provides valuable information on Type Design and what role it plays in the world of visual communication. 

The great thing about this book is that all complex terms are defined so that the reader does not miss out on any significant factors being discussed. Thinking with Type has 3 main sections, namely:

  • Letter
  • Text
  • Grid

The first section, Letter, tries to define the concept of Type, its classification, and the kinds of screen fonts.

The second section, Text, goes into the more pronounced details such as spacing, alignment, and kerning. It even provides illustrations of common type exercises.

The final section is Grid, and it outlines the significance of grids when it comes to presenting Type. 

9. Type Matters! By Jim Williams

Freelancing - Type Matters

Type Matters! goes into the complexities of typography. The book may be relatively short compared to others. However, it captures all the necessary aspects of typography. It will help you master your Type skills. It  is a must-have for all graphic designers

This book is divided into three chapters whose sections look into the following areas:

  • Basics of typography
  • Selection of typeface
  • Leading of numbers
  • Setting text

10. Above the Fold: Understanding the Principles of Successful Web Site Design by Brian D. Millers

Freelancing - Above The Fold

This book lays down the general principles surrounding graphic design. If you are new to the industry, you need to keep the book close as it will enlighten you on various ways to handle projects. On the other hand, if you are already a well-established graphic designer, consider keeping this book close by to refresh your knowledge occasionally.  

Its ease of use makes it a favorite among various graphic designers. The book is divided into three main categories for easy referencing:

  • Design and Topography. This section encourages the user to find inspiration based on the nature of the project
  • Planning of a project and usability. This section provides examples of how to plan when working on projects, and how you can implement your ideas into a final product
  • Business value. The last section prompts graphic designers to come up with the monetary value for their work, and, how they can enjoy the financial benefits that come with graphics designing. 

Quick Helpful Tips for Graphic Designers

Other than reading books, here are a few tips on how to be the best in your field:

  • Pick Contrasting Colors. The goal of any graphic design is to capture the attention of the audience. Consider choosing high contrasting palettes to make the design pop.
  • Limit Your Fonts. Too many fonts interfere with readability. Try to limit yourself to two fonts. One may be for the headers and the other for the body.
  • Choose a White Background. White backgrounds showcase the simplicity and direct everyone’s focus on the content of the design.
  • Use Icons. Icons enable you to highlight certain elements of your design. For instance, if you’re trying to get your audience to follow you on social media, consider adding the necessary icon to symbolize the social media platform.

Over to You

Graphic designers that are new to the market are advised to read as many books as they can. This will enable them to capture various techniques of designing and typography, making them versatile. The books listed above are an excellent set for all levels of graphic designers. They are easy to understand and are accompanied by real-life case studies.

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