While browsing various design communities, whether it be the Graphic Design subreddit, a forum or social media, I often come across Designers asking each other "What design book(s) should I read?" Being a book lover, I always jump at the chance to tell them about one of the amazing books I've read, or am often in the middle of reading. I've even gone so far as to compile an ever growing, master list of books related to Graphic Design on Reddit. So as my very first blog post, I figured what better way to tell them about these books than to write about them?
So here it goes. These books are by no means the be all, end all to Design related books so I encourage you to post some of your favorite books in the comments section below. As either a fellow "Design Book Fanatic" like myself, or a someone who really just doesn't read much at all, I hope this short but extremely awesome list gets you started. Without further ado, I give you 6 of my favorite short design related books. Why only 6 you ask? Well, I like even numbers.
Originally written in the 1940s with edits and revisions throughout his career, this literary masterpiece (in my opinion) by Paul Rand was recently put back into publication after it was out of print for decades. Being a huge fan of Paul Rand, I purchased this book the very day it became available on Amazon for pre-orders. A relatively quick read, the book is filled from cover to cover with the design knowledge of Mr. Rand — who many consider him the greatest American Graphic Designer to ever have lived. The 2014 reprint features a foreword by design luminary Michael Bierut of Pentagram.
An interesting bit of information: you can of course pick up used copy of what very well may be an original copy from Amazon for around $200 USD although only the seller can be certain of which copy you'll be picking up. If you come across an original copy, I'd love to know about it.
Begrudgingly known as "The Original Mad Man" (No seriously. He apparently hates being called that and has stated numerous times that he hates the TV show "Mad Men") — George Lois is known for his Esquire magazine covers in the 1960s as well as a handful of successful advertising and branding campaigns over the course of his career. In another fairly quick read, George Lois offers up often hard to believe stories of his career, practical advice, off-the-wall anecdotes and inspiration in Damn Good Advice.
I'll be the first to admit it. I get easily distracted by social media, text messages, emails, Behance, Dribbble and all sorts of stuff that prevents me from getting work done. After reading this little book from 99U, I began to adjust some of those bad habits that prevented me from getting the important stuff done at work and at home.
If anything, it made me more aware of what I was doing wrong. Now, my iPhone stays in my pocket more often and I slowly but surely am making better use of my time. Featuring contributions from Stefan Sagmeister, James Victore, Seth Godin, Scott Belsky and many others I've found Manage Your-Day-To-Day to be a huge help in getting me back on track. I hope it does the same for you.
While not as short of a read as the aforementioned books, Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design by Pentagram partner Michael Bierut is, like the title of the book says, a collection of short essays on Design that Mr. Bierut has amassed over the course of his career. Full of witty, entertaining and sometimes humorous essays, Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design touches on all aspects of design, from Massimo Vignelli's famed NYC Subway Map to the color coded "terror threat system".
Written by the late Paul Arden, this little pocket-sized book is loaded with insightful bits of advice from the former Creative Director of Saatchi and Saatchi that covers topics like handling a creative brief, what to do when you're stuck, seeking criticism rather than praise as well as sharing your ideas with others. Listing every topic in the book would be pretty extensive so I'll simply say — read the book.
This book is essentially a canon on Massimo Vignelli's legendary design process and its price has skyrocketed since his recent death. If you can find a copy on the cheap, or are willing to fork over $100 USD you'll be delighted to dive into the design process of one of the greatest minimalist Graphic Designers to have ever lived. The Vignelli Canon covers everything from Vignelli's incredibly strict stance on Typography to Grid usage to what he considered "good design". You could of course download the free PDF of The Vignelli Canon directly from his studio's website.