Reading books on graphic design can be a great way to learn new skills and gain inspiration. The books provide valuable insights for graphic designers of all levels. They strengthen the foundation in design principles and theory.
Here, I’ve compiled a list of the best books for graphic designers. These books cover a range of topics such as the best color theory books for designers, typography and design thinking. Whether you're starting out or looking to expand your knowledge, these books will prove to be valuable for sure..
Table of Contents
Design as Art, by Bruno Munari
Design as Art is one of the best books for graphic design. It’s considered a classic book on design psychology that explores the aesthetic principles of designs. Bruno provides insights into the design process and the role of design in society. And he explores several posters, books and other everyday objects to illustrate his ideas. The book can help graphic designers understand the field and broader cultural context.
Top 5 Lessons from the book:
A designer is a planner with an aesthetic sense.
When the objects we use every day and the surroundings we live in have become in themselves a work of art, then we shall be able to say that we have achieved a balanced life.
When a lot of money comes along before culture arrives, we get the phenomenon of the gold telephone.
The vase once had an extremely common use. Most probably it was used for cooking-oil. It was made by a designer of those times, when art and life went hand in hand and there was no such thing as a work of art to look at and just any old thing to use.
People haven’t got time to stop in the street, size a poster up, see what it refers to and then decide whether or not it interests them.
Also Read: 25 Best Books for Artists and Creatives
Interaction of Color, by Josef Albers
Interaction of Color is a renowned book on color theory. Actually, it’s considered among the best color theory books for graphic designers. It’s a handbook to help designers understand color relationships and how to use them effectively in design. It explores how colors interact with and impact each other. And it explains the principles of color theory in depth. It’s among the most influential resources for designers.
Top 2 Lessons from the book:
Good teaching is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right answers.
Usually, we think of an apple as being red. This is not the same red as that of a cherry or tomato. A lemon is yellow and an orange like that of its name. Bricks vary from beige to yellow to orange, and from ochre to brown to deep violet. Foliage appears in innumerable shades of green.
Thinking with Type, by Ellen Lupton
Thinking with Type is another of the best graphic designer books, especially for typography. It’s an excellent resource to understand typography and use it effectively in design. Ellen explores the history and principles of typography, covering various topics such as letterforms, spacing, hierarchy and others. She provides examples of how designers can use typography effectively in a variety of contexts, from print to digital media.
Top 3 Lessons from the book:
Readers usually ignore the typographic interface, gliding comfortably along literacy’s habitual groove. Sometimes, however, the interface should be allowed to fail. By making itself evident, typography can illuminate the construction and identity of a page, screen, place, or product.
Designers provide ways into – and out of – the flood of words by breaking up text into pieces and offering shortcuts and alternate routes through masses of information.
Universal design systems can no longer be dismissed as the irrelevant musings of a small, localized design community. A second modernism has emerged, reinvigorating the utopian search for universal forms that marked the birth of design as a discourse and a discipline nearly a century earlier.
Work for Money, Design for Love, by David Airey
Work for Money, Design for Love is a practical guide for graphic designers to build successful careers. David shares valuable advice based on his own experiences, especially for freelance designers who want to establish their business. The book covers everything from branding and marketing to client management. It’s definitely one of the best books for freelance graphic designers. It’s full of wisdom to create graphic work that is both meaningful and profitable.
Top 4 Lessons from the book:
When you give a client something for free, you send the signal that everything will be free (or at least hugely discounted). And that’s bad management.
Confidence means believing in yourself. If you don’t believe that what you have to offer is of any value, well, no one’s going to pay for it.
If 33 years are taken up with sleep, 10 years in childhood, and 20 years lost in old age, that leaves just 37 years to create something meaningful.
Don’t go into business with your best friends because it’s highly likely that you’ll lose them.
Also Read: 7 Best Books for Growth Mindset
A Smile in the Mind, by Beryl McAlhone
A Smile in the Mind is one of the best creativity books for graphic designers. The book explores the use of wit and humor in graphic design. It’s a collection of witty and innovative design projects to inspire and delight graphic designers. And it’s filled with examples of playful design, from advertising to packaging and editorial design. It also has insights and interviews to illustrate the creative process behind these designs.
Designing Brand Identity, by Alina Wheeler
Designing Brand Identity is among the best books for designers who want to get some insights into marketing and branding. It’s a comprehensive guide to creating and managing effective brand identities. The book provides step-by-step process for brand standards and guidelines, illustrations to explain the concepts and case studies of real-life brands. It covers all aspects of branding, from research and strategy to implementation.
Also Read: 21 Best Books for Marketers and Salespeople
Grid Systems in Graphic Design, by Josef Muller-Brockmann
Grid Systems in Graphic Design, as the name suggests, is a reference guide to understand the application of grid systems in graphic design. It’s one of the best books on graphic design grids. It takes grids as an essential tool for organizing visual information and creating effective layouts. The book has several examples of grid-based designs to explain their layouts and dimensions. It also covers typography, composition and other related topics.
Also Read: 14 Best Books for Communication Skills
OK, those were all the best graphic design books I have for you. These are some of the best books for graphic designers and artists to understand professional designing.
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