There are so many great graphic design books in the world! My top 9 are those that I consider to be must-haves. Some are terrific introductions to the field, while others are wonderful life-long references.
The Elements of Typographic Style, by Robert Bringhurst
This is a comprehensive book that should be on every designer’s shelf. An expert typographer and an eloquent writer, Bringhurst has given us a gift that Herman Zapf hopes will become the “Typographers’ Bible.” Bringhurst’s language is refreshing, intelligent, and poetic. This book is also on my list of Top 11 Typography Books.
Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines, by Graphic Artist Guild
I rely on this book as my guide for industry standards in pricing and ethics. There is valuable information on copyright and other legalities, negotiation and contracts, and how the web impacts our design world. You will find many useful business forms at the end of the book: estimates, invoices, contracts, etc..
Pocket Pal: A Graphic Arts Production Handbook, by International Paper Company
Dog-earred from my referencing over the past 15 years, this handbook is THE go-to guide for graphic arts production. There is a concise history of printing, in addition to major sections on printing processes, color theory and mechanics, imaging, art and text preparation, photography, and electronic pre-press.
The Elements of Color, by Johannes Itten
The Universal Traveler, by Don Koberg, Jim Bagnall
This book is a systematic guide to the creative process, rich with tools, techniques, and principles that work. It has become the underlying foundation to the design classes that I teach, as well as the design problems that I solve. The confident tone is balanced with humor and low-tech edginess.
A History of Graphic Design, by Phillip Meggs
There’s a lot of history to cover when you’re talking about graphic design. Meggs covers it all in this comprehensive text: the invention of writing and alphabets, medieval manuscripts, origins of printing and typography, various “eras” of design (Renaissance, Arts & Crafts, Victorian, Art Nouveau, Modern, Postmodern), and the digital age.
A Designer’s Art, by Paul Rand
I’m fascinated and inspired by other designers’ process. Rand was one of the
best American designers of all time, and has left an incredible legacy for us to
treasure. As Bringhurst has said, “Consult the ancestors.” Learn from Rand and
The Non-Designer’s Design Book, by Robin Williams
This book is a concise and clear explanation of the essential principles of graphic design: CRAP (Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, Proximity). I use it to augment what I teach in my Intro. to Graphic Design classes. By focusing on those essentials, students build a solid foundation of understanding what makes a design solution work.
Principles of Form and Design, by Wucius Wong
A solid reference for 2-dimensional design, this book is particularly useful for vector art and logo development.
Now it’s your turn!
I’d love to hear what your favorites are. What would you add to this list to make it the “Top 10”? Thanks very much!