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10 Must-Read & Best Graphic Design Books To Read in 2021

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The Internet can be a wild goose hunt for those looking for specific information on creative subjects like graphic design. While it is a hub for truckloads of data, scouring through the clutter to find quality material is a tough nut to crack. So, it can get quite confusing and time-consuming. Knowing where to find best practices is key to unlocking your potential as a reader. Whether you’re interested in learning the basics of graphic designing, a curious reader, or just looking to expand your creative skill set, world-class graphic design books and guides can be a great source of knowledge and inspiration, as well.

After all, a good graphic design depends on many factors like fonts, color palette, typography, etc. Depending on what exactly you want to learn, there are many who offer different rich insights on various facets of what constitutes a great design. There is literally a book for everyone – irrespective of which stage they may be in, as a graphic designer.

We have tried our best to compile some of the very best of them. In case you are looking at their credentials and wondering if your designs really need to be that good – here’s something that was once said by Stefan Sagmeister – a Grammy-award (Yes, that’s a thing) graphic designer

“You can have an art experience in front of a Rembrandt… or in front of a piece of graphic design.”

Check out our top ten recommendations for great graphic design books and guides.

1. Designing Brand Identity by Alina Wheeler

‘Designing Brand Identity’ is a must-have. From the company’s project manager to a graphic designer, this book gives you an in-depth knowledge of branding. The book is split into three parts – brand fundamentals, process basics, and case studies – that covers topics of social media and their cross channel synergy, mobile devices, SEO, wayfinding, experience branding, and placemaking.

With a foreword from Design Matters’ podcast host Debbie Millman and recommendation from Pentagram partner Paula Scher, you know the book will match up to the hype.

2. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

‘Steal Like an Artist’ is an encouraging book to guide you through ten transformative principles that will help you identify your artistic side and inspire your creativity in this digital age.

3. Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton

A bestseller that gives an insight into the world of Typography and how to use it as a medium of communication in visual communication from printed papers to web pages.

4. Interaction of Color by Josef Albers

Josef Albers’s Interaction of Color is considered a handbook for art instructors, students, and artists. It also acts as a teaching aid, wherein Albers gives an easy understanding of complex color theory principles.

5. Logo Modernism by Jens Muller

Published by Taschen, Logo Modernism is an educational book that is divided into three main chapters – Geometric, Effect, and Typographic. Through this book, Müller examines the effect of modernism in graphic design and how these imperatives and behaviors gave rise to corporate identity.

6. The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst

The Elements of Typographic Style by the renowned typographer and poet is a well-written guide that gives clarity on the practical, theoretical, and historical aspects of typography.

7. Why Fonts Matter by Sarah Hyndman

A graphic designer and typographer, Sarah Hyndman, writes about the importance of fonts and its impact on the viewers’ choices. She dives into the science of fonts and why different styles evoke different reactions from the audiences.

8. How to be a Graphic Designer, Without Losing Your Soul by Adrian Shaughnessy

Legendary graphic designer Adrian Shaughnessy’s book is nothing less than that of a career guide. In How to be a Graphic Designer, Without Losing Your Soul, he offers insight and advice on establishing a graphic design career as well as on the creative process and tips that go into running your own business.

9. Oh, Sh*t… What now?: Honest Advice for New Graphic Designers by Craig Oldham

This funny, straight-talking book by Craig Oldham is the perfect guide for those who are looking for a way to enter the creative industries, ideas, encouragement, and advice. The book covers a wide range of topics such as portfolios, working process, personal development, education, and jobs/freelancing.

10. 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 by Michael Bierut

Michael Bierut has had one of the most successful and varied graphic design careers ever. And in this must-have book, he illustrates 35 projects that portray the vastness of graphic design. Through this, he demonstrates not a single idea, but the multiple ideology approach that has played a crucial role in his success.

So, there you have it. Pull out your reading glasses or switch on those Kindle devices and check out some of our recommendations on books and guides on modern graphic design. But since graphic designing has its roots in art, you may wonder if the rules that govern it are subjective. While that may be true, in spirit, the truth is that best practices can be applied to any sort of creative field. Whether you are starting out as a fresher, switching careers as a late bloomer, or picking up new information as a veteran, there’s always something you can learn.

In that sense, you can have a better view of the bold, new world of graphic design by standing on the shoulders of giants who have been there, done that, and written about all of it.


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