(Medium) 50 Essential Books Every Graphic Designer Should Read

By March 26, 2018 No Comments

When it comes to seeking inspiration and learning, graphic designers are spoilt for choice.

There is a wealth of literature at our fingertips, all waiting to be explored and enjoyed, helping us to improve and refine our graphic design skills.

No matter whether you’re an established creative or someone who has just enrolled on a graphic design course, we highly recommend this definitive list of 50 essential reads, expertly curated by our Shillington teaching team. These books are library favourites at our six campuses around the world where Shillington students actively research and reference for their studies and design briefs.

1. Lance Wyman: The Monograph — Unit Editions

This monograph is the first major publication devoted to Lance Wyman’s entire output. It showcases the achievements of a long and productive career, from his early work for General Motors, through to his iconic designs for the Mexico 68 Olympics to his more recent projects. An absolute must. Buy the book and read Lance Wyman’s #tbt on Shillington Design Blog.

2. Eye Magazine

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal. It’s easily available by subscription and stocked by many specialist bookshops and magazine stores worldwide. Subscribe to the magazine.

3. Spin: 360° — Unit Editions

Spin: 360º is a portrait of one of London’s leading design studios. It’s a 520pp monograph that looks in mouth-watering detail at every aspect of Spin’s work in identity, print, moving image, retail, digital and environmental graphics, as well as the studio’s self-directed activities in publishing, curating and collecting. Buy the book.

4. Logo Modernism (Design) — Jens Muller

Modernist aesthetics in architecture, art, and product design are familiar to many. In soaring glass structures or minimalist canvases, we recognise a time of vast technological advance which affirmed the power of human beings to reshape their environment and to break, radically, from the conventions or constraints of the past. Less well-known, but no less fascinating, is the distillation of modernism in graphic design.

This unprecedented publication, authored by Jens Müller, brings together approximately 6,000 trademarks, focused on the period 1940–1980, to examine how modernist attitudes and imperatives gave birth to corporate identity. Buy the book.

5. Typorama: The Graphic Work of Philippe Apeloig — Philippe Apeloig

Philippe Apeloig’s design career began in 1985 at the Musée dOrsay where he designed the poster for the museum’s first exhibition, Chicago, Birth of a Metropolis. He is noted for his posters, many of which are in the collection of MoMA, and his typography, including the typefaces Octobre and Drop.

This highly recommended book surveys and explores the entirety of Apeloig’s graphic design process and philosophy. His posters, logos, visual identities, books and animations are reproduced along with the steps in their development, and the major influences that fuel his work. Buy the book.

6. 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 — Michael Bierut

Protégé of design legend Massimo Vignelli and partner in the New York office of the international design firm Pentagram, Michael Bierut has had one of the most varied careers of any living graphic designer.

In this must-have book, Bierut presents 35 projects that illustrate the breadth of activity that graphic design encompasses today, his goal being to demonstrate not a single ideology, but the enthusiastically eclectic approach that has been a hallmark of his career. Inspiring, informative and authoritative, it’s become the bible of graphic design ideas. Buy the book.

7. Type Plus — Unit Editions

Today, graphic designers use type in partnership with graphic elements in ways that turbo charge meaning and impact. Type Plus is a book that investigates the practice of combining typography with images to increase effectiveness, potency and visual impact. Buy the book.

8. Ready to Print : Handbook for Media Designers — Kristina Nickel

These days, designers must be proficient in creating final artwork and be familiar with pre-print and production processes. Ready to Print helps designers prepare their data and materials so that the best-possible result can be achieved with an optimal print run. Buy the book.

9. Project Japan. Metabolism Talks… — Rem Koolhaas & Hans Ulrich Obrist

Between 2005 and 2011, architect Rem Koolhaas and curator Hans Ulrich Obrist interviewed the surviving members of Metabolism — the first non-western avant-garde, launched in Tokyo in 1960, in the midst of Japan’s postwar miracle.

Project Japan features hundreds of never-before-seen images — master plans from Manchuria to Tokyo, intimate snapshots of the Metabolists at work and play, architectural models, magazine excerpts, and astonishing sci-fi urban visions — telling the 20th century history of Japan through its architecture, from the tabula rasa of a colonised Manchuria in the 1930s to a devastated Japan after the war, the establishment of Metabolism at the 1960 World Design Conference in Tokyo, to the rise of Kisho Kurokawa as the first celebrity architect, to the apotheosis of Metabolism at Expo ’70 in Osaka and its expansion into the Middle East and Africa in the 1970s. The result is a vivid documentary of the last moment when architecture was a public rather than a private affair. Buy the book.

10. Cook It Raw — Andrea Petrini

Cook it Raw doesn’t just tell the story of an exciting collection of avant-garde chefs who come together to create unique dining experiences that explore social, cultural and environmental issues. It’s also an excellent example of classic editorial design. A must for aspiring chefs and food lovers interested in cutting edge gastronomy — and designers looking for further inspiration. Buy the book.

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