5 Must-have Design Books Every Designer Should Own

illustration

Illustrations make big difference! If you want to become a really good designer, and you want to have this list of books on your shelf.

​​Why should you start investing in design books?

Self-learning is good, but you cannot learn everything on your own. If you want to become a really good designer, and you want to be in demand in terms of booking clients who are looking for someone to create designs and illustrations for them, you need to invest in learning materials that can help you become a rockstar graphic designer.

You might be having second thoughts on buying design books because you probably think that you can learn it yourself with the help of the internet. That’s why we want you to know why it is important for you to start investing in design books at the soonest time possible.

Here, we will share five fantastic design books to help you do just that. These books are a must-have for any designer who wants to level up their design skills from learning about graphic design thinking, creating illustration design, and exploring web typography.

Each title is packed with information that will help you become a better designer. You won't want to miss out on this opportunity to learn from some of the best in the industry.

But first…

Why Should You Start Reading Design Books?

Here are some of the reasons why you should start owning and reading books related to the design field.

custom illustration

1. The books are written by some of the best in the industry

This means that by owning and reading their books, you are learning from the best. You get to know more about their experience, their design process, the way they think, and even where they get their inspiration. Nobody can teach you better than someone who has already experienced a lot to get to where they are now.

 2. The books are filled with tons of information and examples that will help you expand your design knowledge.

For any designer, it is important to learn and expand skills constantly. This is because the industry itself is constantly changing, and designers need to adapt to stay relevant. And one of the best ways to do that is by reading books filled with information on how to become a better version of yourself as a designer. By learning more techniques and information, you will improve your skills much faster.

3. The books will help you learn new techniques and approaches to design that you can use in your work.

Learning new things through experience is one thing, but knowing how to implement what you learned into your work is another. This is why you need to read design books because they are filled with examples and techniques and guides on how you can implement those tips in your designs.

So don't wait any longer. Add these five books to your library today and start expanding your design knowledge.

5 Fantastic Design Books That Every Designer Should Invest On 

1. “Thinking with Type” by Ellen Lupton 

custom illustration
“Thinking with Type” by Ellen Lupton”

About the book

This is your comprehensive guide in using typography in visual design. It contains extensive typographic information and touches on theories, applications, and practice. It’s an in-depth exploration of how type affects the user experience, and it covers everything from history to contemporary design principles.

About the author

Ellen Lupton is a graphic designer, writer, curator, and educator. She is the Senior Curator at a Design Museum based in New York City. Additionally, she is the director of the MFA degree program at Maryland Institute College of Art. Aside from “Thinking with Type”, she authored several books, including “Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students”, “The Senses: Design Beyond Vision”, “Graphic Design The New Basics” among others.

Why you should own this book?

Backed with history as a guide, Lupton showed how each letter and text could influence how we see, look at and see a design and how readability can be improved by following the rules. While keeping the book’s tone fun and light, the author was able to guide you on the kind of fonts to use, the size, the alignment, and also took into consideration the shape of the text, the spacing, and order.

Lupton broke down the book into three main sections: Letter, Text, and Grid. Under each section, she deep-dived into the subject of focus and explained how it is laced with the typography practice. The author also presented different contexts and insights on using those three main sections. Moreover, the book can teach how designers can be inventive in terms of systems of typographic forms.

Be it text, letters, HTML, or grid layout, “Thinking with Type” is your book if you want to know the use of typography in different forms of media and other kinds of audiences. This book is for anyone who wants to understand why they react to certain types of text the way they do. In other words, if you care about communication, then you need to read this book.

2. “How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul”  by Adrian Shaughnessy

custom illustration
“How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul”  by Adrian Shaughnessy

About the book

This is the perfect book for those just starting their graphic design career. It gives practical advice and guidance on the theoretical and philosophical aspects. Here, Shaughnessy lays out the challenges and opportunities that graphic designers face today. He offers up his philosophy on thriving as a designer while still maintaining your integrity.

About the author

Adrian Shaughnessy is a London-based graphic designer and writer. He is also the co-founder of London-based studio Shaughnessy Co. His work has been exhibited around the world. He is the author of several books on graphic design, including "Design Rules'' and "How to be a Graphic Designer."

Why you should own this book

You can expect chapters about the creative process, global trends, and professional skills in this book. Shaughnessy gives guidance to the designers who want to earn a living through expensive and meaningful work and those who don’t want to work on soulless projects.

This book will help you stay true to yourself while producing great work. It covers various topics, from working with clients to staying inspired. Shaughnessy also offers personal anecdotes and examples from his career, making the content relatable and actionable.

The author also covered some areas usually experienced by graphic designers, like landing a job and handling demanding clients.  The book also contains inspiring interviews of top designers, including Jonathan Barnbrook, Stephen Doyle, Sara De Bondt, Dmitri Siegel, Ben Drury, Sophie Thomas, Paul Sahre, and Magnus Vol Mathiassen.

3. “How To”  by Michael Bierut

custom illustration
“How To” by Michael Bierut

About the book

This book is essential for anyone who wants to understand how design works, why it matters, and what it can do for them. From the basics of good typography to the art of self-promotion, from the etiquette of email to the wisdom of staying offline, Bierut offers a wealth of insight and advice for anyone who cares about design or simply wants to live a better life.

About the author

Michael Beirut is a graphic designer, educator, design critic, and partner at the design firm Pentagram. He is the man behind Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign logo in 2016.  He was involved in different remarkable projects like creating environmental graphics for The New York Times Building, signing for Morgan Library and Museum, and redesigning the magazine, The Atlantic.

Throughout his career, he won hundreds of design awards, and his work is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), National Design Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Musee des Arts Decoratifs, and others.


Another book he authored is “Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design, " published in 2007.

Why you should own this book?

Beirut provided a view of his creative process, his relationship with his clients, and the challenges designers face to bring new ideas to the world of design. He made the book enjoyable by sharing his creative process in logo iterations, stories about stakeholder meetings, and sketches.

This is the book for you to understand how design works, why it matters, and what it can do for them. From the basics of good typography to the art of self-promotion, from the etiquette of email to the wisdom of staying offline, Bierut offers a wealth of insight and advice for anyone who cares about design or simply wants to live a better life.

He provided a walk-through on his philosophy on graphic design to explain how to make things look better, how to sell things, how to change the world, and others. He also shared his design portfolio that features different clients from art galleries, museums, cultural institutions and NYC’s Department of Transportation. 

4. “100 Ideas That Changed Design” by Peter Fiell and Charlotte Fiel

custom illustration
“100 Ideas That Changed Design” by Peter Fiell and Charlotte Fiel

About the book

It is a compilation of the most important design concepts that have been developed over the years. It is a great resource for anyone who wants to learn more about design or for designers who want to expand their knowledge base.

About the author

Charlotte and Peter Fiell are the authorities on theory, criticism of the design, and history. They have already written 50 books on design, many of which are already considered best-sellers. They also serve as lecturers and consultants to museums, salerooms, and manufacturing companies.

They authored other books including, “Design Museum: A to Z of Design and Designers and Modern Scandinavian Design”, and ``The Story of Design: From the Palaeolithic to the Present”.

Why you should own this book

The book includes both classic ideas and more modern concepts. For example, the chapter on photography looks at both traditional film photography and digital photography. This makes the book relevant to a wider audience, and it ensures that readers can learn about both old and new design concepts.

The author discussed the designs and the designers in a historical view. The writing style is quite engaging, and they included well-chosen pictures for the readers’ better understanding.

5. “Graphic Design Rules: 365 Essential Dos and Don'ts'' by Petter Dawson, John Foster, and Sean Adams

custom illustration
“Graphic Design Rules: 365 Essential Dos and Don'ts'' by Petter Dawson, John Foster, and Sean Adams

About the book

This book is jam-packed with tips and tricks for coming up with great graphic design. It's perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about the principles of good design or who wants to improve their own designs.

About the author

Petter Dawson is a senior lecturer in Graphic Design at the University of Lincoln, UK. He has over 17 years of experience in the graphic design industry and has won several awards for his work. John Foster is a senior lecturer in Typography at the University of Lincoln, UK. He has over 25 years of experience in the graphic design industry and is the author of several books on typography. Sean Adams is a designer, educator, and author who has been working in the graphic design industry for over 25 years. He co-founded the online design magazine “I Love Typography”.

Why should you own this book

One thing that makes “Graphic Design Rules” particularly useful is that it doesn't just focus on print design. The book also covers web design, multimedia, and branding. This means that it is an all-encompassing guide to graphic design that will be of value to both beginners and experienced professionals.

With the practical advice written in a lighthearted and fun manner, this is the book for designers and non-designers who want to get some design guidelines and tips. Following the format of a classic almanac,

In the style of a classical almanac, it contains specific design rules from different experts in the field of graphic design. The topics that can help you become a better designer are color, imagery, typography, creative thinking, and production. You can choose to finish the book in three to five sittings or use it as your daily source of inspiration to produce great designs.

custom illustration

Takeaway

No matter what level of experience you have as a designer, it's always important to keep learning and expanding your skills. These books offer insights and techniques that can help you improve your design skills and provide inspiration for new ideas.

In addition, design books often contain beautiful and inspiring images that can help to motivate you in your work. Design books can be expensive, though, so it's important to invest in ones that will be worth your time and money.


5 Must-have Design Books Every Designer Should Own

Illustrations make big difference! If you want to become a really good designer, and you want to have this list of books on your shelf.

Jenn Pereira

​​Why should you start investing in design books?

Self-learning is good, but you cannot learn everything on your own. If you want to become a really good designer, and you want to be in demand in terms of booking clients who are looking for someone to create designs and illustrations for them, you need to invest in learning materials that can help you become a rockstar graphic designer.

You might be having second thoughts on buying design books because you probably think that you can learn it yourself with the help of the internet. That’s why we want you to know why it is important for you to start investing in design books at the soonest time possible.

Here, we will share five fantastic design books to help you do just that. These books are a must-have for any designer who wants to level up their design skills from learning about graphic design thinking, creating illustration design, and exploring web typography.

Each title is packed with information that will help you become a better designer. You won't want to miss out on this opportunity to learn from some of the best in the industry.

But first…

Why Should You Start Reading Design Books?

Here are some of the reasons why you should start owning and reading books related to the design field.

custom illustration

1. The books are written by some of the best in the industry

This means that by owning and reading their books, you are learning from the best. You get to know more about their experience, their design process, the way they think, and even where they get their inspiration. Nobody can teach you better than someone who has already experienced a lot to get to where they are now.

 2. The books are filled with tons of information and examples that will help you expand your design knowledge.

For any designer, it is important to learn and expand skills constantly. This is because the industry itself is constantly changing, and designers need to adapt to stay relevant. And one of the best ways to do that is by reading books filled with information on how to become a better version of yourself as a designer. By learning more techniques and information, you will improve your skills much faster.

3. The books will help you learn new techniques and approaches to design that you can use in your work.

Learning new things through experience is one thing, but knowing how to implement what you learned into your work is another. This is why you need to read design books because they are filled with examples and techniques and guides on how you can implement those tips in your designs.

So don't wait any longer. Add these five books to your library today and start expanding your design knowledge.

5 Fantastic Design Books That Every Designer Should Invest On 

1. “Thinking with Type” by Ellen Lupton 

custom illustration
“Thinking with Type” by Ellen Lupton”

About the book

This is your comprehensive guide in using typography in visual design. It contains extensive typographic information and touches on theories, applications, and practice. It’s an in-depth exploration of how type affects the user experience, and it covers everything from history to contemporary design principles.

About the author

Ellen Lupton is a graphic designer, writer, curator, and educator. She is the Senior Curator at a Design Museum based in New York City. Additionally, she is the director of the MFA degree program at Maryland Institute College of Art. Aside from “Thinking with Type”, she authored several books, including “Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students”, “The Senses: Design Beyond Vision”, “Graphic Design The New Basics” among others.

Why you should own this book?

Backed with history as a guide, Lupton showed how each letter and text could influence how we see, look at and see a design and how readability can be improved by following the rules. While keeping the book’s tone fun and light, the author was able to guide you on the kind of fonts to use, the size, the alignment, and also took into consideration the shape of the text, the spacing, and order.

Lupton broke down the book into three main sections: Letter, Text, and Grid. Under each section, she deep-dived into the subject of focus and explained how it is laced with the typography practice. The author also presented different contexts and insights on using those three main sections. Moreover, the book can teach how designers can be inventive in terms of systems of typographic forms.

Be it text, letters, HTML, or grid layout, “Thinking with Type” is your book if you want to know the use of typography in different forms of media and other kinds of audiences. This book is for anyone who wants to understand why they react to certain types of text the way they do. In other words, if you care about communication, then you need to read this book.

2. “How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul”  by Adrian Shaughnessy

custom illustration
“How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul”  by Adrian Shaughnessy

About the book

This is the perfect book for those just starting their graphic design career. It gives practical advice and guidance on the theoretical and philosophical aspects. Here, Shaughnessy lays out the challenges and opportunities that graphic designers face today. He offers up his philosophy on thriving as a designer while still maintaining your integrity.

About the author

Adrian Shaughnessy is a London-based graphic designer and writer. He is also the co-founder of London-based studio Shaughnessy Co. His work has been exhibited around the world. He is the author of several books on graphic design, including "Design Rules'' and "How to be a Graphic Designer."

Why you should own this book

You can expect chapters about the creative process, global trends, and professional skills in this book. Shaughnessy gives guidance to the designers who want to earn a living through expensive and meaningful work and those who don’t want to work on soulless projects.

This book will help you stay true to yourself while producing great work. It covers various topics, from working with clients to staying inspired. Shaughnessy also offers personal anecdotes and examples from his career, making the content relatable and actionable.

The author also covered some areas usually experienced by graphic designers, like landing a job and handling demanding clients.  The book also contains inspiring interviews of top designers, including Jonathan Barnbrook, Stephen Doyle, Sara De Bondt, Dmitri Siegel, Ben Drury, Sophie Thomas, Paul Sahre, and Magnus Vol Mathiassen.

3. “How To”  by Michael Bierut

custom illustration
“How To” by Michael Bierut

About the book

This book is essential for anyone who wants to understand how design works, why it matters, and what it can do for them. From the basics of good typography to the art of self-promotion, from the etiquette of email to the wisdom of staying offline, Bierut offers a wealth of insight and advice for anyone who cares about design or simply wants to live a better life.

About the author

Michael Beirut is a graphic designer, educator, design critic, and partner at the design firm Pentagram. He is the man behind Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign logo in 2016.  He was involved in different remarkable projects like creating environmental graphics for The New York Times Building, signing for Morgan Library and Museum, and redesigning the magazine, The Atlantic.

Throughout his career, he won hundreds of design awards, and his work is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), National Design Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Musee des Arts Decoratifs, and others.


Another book he authored is “Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design, " published in 2007.

Why you should own this book?

Beirut provided a view of his creative process, his relationship with his clients, and the challenges designers face to bring new ideas to the world of design. He made the book enjoyable by sharing his creative process in logo iterations, stories about stakeholder meetings, and sketches.

This is the book for you to understand how design works, why it matters, and what it can do for them. From the basics of good typography to the art of self-promotion, from the etiquette of email to the wisdom of staying offline, Bierut offers a wealth of insight and advice for anyone who cares about design or simply wants to live a better life.

He provided a walk-through on his philosophy on graphic design to explain how to make things look better, how to sell things, how to change the world, and others. He also shared his design portfolio that features different clients from art galleries, museums, cultural institutions and NYC’s Department of Transportation. 

4. “100 Ideas That Changed Design” by Peter Fiell and Charlotte Fiel

custom illustration
“100 Ideas That Changed Design” by Peter Fiell and Charlotte Fiel

About the book

It is a compilation of the most important design concepts that have been developed over the years. It is a great resource for anyone who wants to learn more about design or for designers who want to expand their knowledge base.

About the author

Charlotte and Peter Fiell are the authorities on theory, criticism of the design, and history. They have already written 50 books on design, many of which are already considered best-sellers. They also serve as lecturers and consultants to museums, salerooms, and manufacturing companies.

They authored other books including, “Design Museum: A to Z of Design and Designers and Modern Scandinavian Design”, and ``The Story of Design: From the Palaeolithic to the Present”.

Why you should own this book

The book includes both classic ideas and more modern concepts. For example, the chapter on photography looks at both traditional film photography and digital photography. This makes the book relevant to a wider audience, and it ensures that readers can learn about both old and new design concepts.

The author discussed the designs and the designers in a historical view. The writing style is quite engaging, and they included well-chosen pictures for the readers’ better understanding.

5. “Graphic Design Rules: 365 Essential Dos and Don'ts'' by Petter Dawson, John Foster, and Sean Adams

custom illustration
“Graphic Design Rules: 365 Essential Dos and Don'ts'' by Petter Dawson, John Foster, and Sean Adams

About the book

This book is jam-packed with tips and tricks for coming up with great graphic design. It's perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about the principles of good design or who wants to improve their own designs.

About the author

Petter Dawson is a senior lecturer in Graphic Design at the University of Lincoln, UK. He has over 17 years of experience in the graphic design industry and has won several awards for his work. John Foster is a senior lecturer in Typography at the University of Lincoln, UK. He has over 25 years of experience in the graphic design industry and is the author of several books on typography. Sean Adams is a designer, educator, and author who has been working in the graphic design industry for over 25 years. He co-founded the online design magazine “I Love Typography”.

Why should you own this book

One thing that makes “Graphic Design Rules” particularly useful is that it doesn't just focus on print design. The book also covers web design, multimedia, and branding. This means that it is an all-encompassing guide to graphic design that will be of value to both beginners and experienced professionals.

With the practical advice written in a lighthearted and fun manner, this is the book for designers and non-designers who want to get some design guidelines and tips. Following the format of a classic almanac,

In the style of a classical almanac, it contains specific design rules from different experts in the field of graphic design. The topics that can help you become a better designer are color, imagery, typography, creative thinking, and production. You can choose to finish the book in three to five sittings or use it as your daily source of inspiration to produce great designs.

custom illustration

Takeaway

No matter what level of experience you have as a designer, it's always important to keep learning and expanding your skills. These books offer insights and techniques that can help you improve your design skills and provide inspiration for new ideas.

In addition, design books often contain beautiful and inspiring images that can help to motivate you in your work. Design books can be expensive, though, so it's important to invest in ones that will be worth your time and money.


Thanks for reading!

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