Recommended Design Books
You can find out just about anything about Graphic Design online, but sometimes it’s nicer to read a good book on the subject. I have managed to build up quite a collection of design books, and here I recommend some of the better ones.
A Type Primer
Typography can be a difficult subject to come to grips with, but with this excellent little book, you’ll get there. It touches on measurement, classification, layout and includes useful exercises throughout to help this knowledge stay with you. Highly recommended.
The Art of Looking Sideways
Sadly no longer with us, Alan Fletcher (1931–2006) was one of Britain’s most prolific graphic designers. A founder member of Pentagram, Fletcher’s clients included Reuters, Olivetti, Penguin Books and Pirelli. I’m particularly a fan of the identity for the Victoria and Albert Museum which is just a brilliant, timeless piece of work.
18 years in the making and over 500 pages long, The Art of Looking Sideways is a visual treat. Fletcher gathered a vast collection of imagery, anecdotes, quotations and weird facts, and put it into print. The perfect book to get you thinking.
Logo Book Stefan Kanchev
Stefan Kanchev (1915–2001) was a Bulgarian graphic designer, referred to as the “master of the trademark”. As an accomplished logo designer in a socialist country, he enjoyed a career that no western designer could dream of – frequently receiving state commissions for all manner of institutions, companies, and departments. With Bulgaria behind the Iron Curtain, it wasn’t until the 60s that his work began to be noticed outside of Eastern Europe.
Kanchev’s work is comparable with that of Paul Rand, and he was even more prolific than him. This is such a good book to look at if you are working on a logo – pick it up.
Draplin Design Co.
I first encountered Aaron Draplin when I watched this excellent video from Lynda.com. Please do the same if you’re in the identity design game – it really is worth your time to see how this man works.
In everything he does, Aaron extols the virtues of hard work and no nonsense. As well as that, he simply comes across as a cool, interesting guy; so when I saw that he had a book out, I knew I had to get a copy.
The work within is first rate; but this book tells a good story too. It covers how he started off, his motivations, family, and even sausage dogs. You can tell that this has been a real labour of love – the cover for example, is fantastic to look at, inside and out.
The first thing that strikes you about this book is its size. Seriously, it is massive, and slightly annoyingly, doesn’t fit in my bookcase.
This is readily forgiven, however, as the large format allows for a book that is absolutely packed with excellent logos from the golden age of trademark design; all presented at a clear scale. There are a bunch of similar, categorised logo books on the market but this is probably the standard that they have to aim at now. I always try to refer to this and the Stefan Kanchev book when I have a logo project come in.
TM gives the background to some of the best identities ever produced; such as British Rail, Coca-Cola, The Munich 1972 Olympic Games, and Penguin Books. This really interesting read includes quotes from the designers involved, and plenty of material showing the progress from concept to application.
This excellent book acts as a guide to producing engaging layouts for editorial content. It is full of examples and advice from industry professionals; and so is a must read if you are working on anything from a newsletter to a whole magazine.
I was first drawn to Symbol by its wonderfully understated cover. Luckily, the content is superb as well, with over 1,300 classic and contemporary symbols, organised into logical categories and sub‐groups — perfect for inspiration and research purposes. Dotted throughout are more in‐depth case studies of well‐known marks and their origins. The work in here is well chosen and clearly presented with a great grid. If you have any interest in logo or symbol design, I recommend picking this one up.
The Complete Guide to Digital Graphic Design
When I was starting out, I found the technical side of design almost as interesting as the creative side. I looked at pieces of artwork and questioned myself. How did they achieve that effect? How come the logo is reproduced so sharply? This book really helped to provide answers, and at least give me a fair grip of things before I started sending projects to print.
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