The most recommended graphic designer books

Who picked these books? Meet our 5 experts.

5 authors created a book list connected to graphic designer, and here are their favorite graphic designer books.
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Book cover of Notes from an Island

Irfan Shah Author Of Where Lay My Homeward Path: Selected Short Stories by Edward Thomas

From my list on nature-writing with humans at the center.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer and researcher from North Yorkshire, England. Although I’ve written extensively on pre-cinema history (for example, I co-wrote the BAFTA long-listed documentary, The First Film) I have also researched little-known stories connected with the natural world, particularly the beautiful Yorkshire Moors, where I live. My upcoming travelogue The Witches’ Way will combine nature-writing with original historical research, and will be published by Open Space Books in the Autumn. I have long been an admirer of the poetry of Edward Thomas – bringing his long-forgotten fiction to a new audience has been a real passion project of mine.

Irfan's book list on nature-writing with humans at the center

Irfan Shah Why did Irfan love this book?

Tove Jansson was one of my favourite authors as a child, thanks to her magical Moomin series.

Her fiction for adults, too (The Summer Book, Art in Nature) is wonderful. However, I have gone for one of her lesser-known books, Notes from an Island, which is simply a short journal with brief and starkly beautiful diary entries concerning the times she spent with her partner, Tuulikki Pietilä, on a barren and otherwise uninhabited island in the Gulf of Finland.

The book is a collaboration - Pietilä supplied stark, minimalist illustrations - and it also includes sections of a journal contributed by Brunström, the gruff mariner who helped the couple with their trips to and from the island.

Jansson’s writing style is as sparse as the island itself, reflecting the tough conditions, which nevertheless, did not preclude a life of artistic fulfillment for both her and Pietilä. This…

By Tove Jansson, Tuulikki Pietila, Thomas Teal (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Notes from an Island as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the bitter winds of autumn 1963, Tove Jansson, helped by Brunstroem, a maverick fisherman, raced to build a cabin on a treeless skerry in the Gulf of Finland. The island was Klovharun, and for thirty summers Tove and her beloved partner, the graphic artist, Tuulikki Pietila, retreated there to live, paint and write, energised by the solitude and shifting seascapes.

Notes from an Island, published in English for the first time, is both a chronicle of this period and a homage to the mature love that Tove and 'Tooti' shared for their island and for each other. Tove's spare…


Book cover of The Art of Looking Sideways

David Airey Author Of Identity Designed: The Definitive Guide to Visual Branding

From my list on visual branding.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a graphic designer, writer, and brand consultant. I work with clients of all sizes, from multinationals to companies of one. Since opening my business in 2005 I’ve created logos and visual identities for brands in more than 30 countries. I run two design blogs Logo Design Love and Identity Designed. They resulted in publishing deals to write their accompanying books, and their pages now get millions of views each year.

David's book list on visual branding

David Airey Why did David love this book?

A seminal classic for any graphic designer. “A primer in visual intelligence, an exploration of the workings of the eye, the hand, the brain, and the imagination.”

By Alan Fletcher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Art of Looking Sideways as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Art of Looking Sideways is a primer in visual intelligence, an exploration of the workings of the eye, the hand, the brain and the imagination. It is an inexhaustible mine of anecdotes, quotations, images, curious facts and useless information, oddities, serious science, jokes and memories, all concerned with the interplay between the verbal and the visual, and the limitless resources of the human mind. Loosely arranged in 72 chapters, all this material is presented in a wonderfully inventive series of pages that are themselves masterly demonstrations of the expressive use of type, space, colour and imagery.

This book does…


Book cover of Architectural Graphics

David Chelsea Author Of Perspective! for Comic Book Artists

From my list on making you a better artist.

Why am I passionate about this?

Although I have been a professional artist for over forty years, I have never yet gotten to the point where I imagine I have it all figured out. There are always new techniques to learn, and new mediums to explore. The books on this list are ones I have found helpful in nudging me in new and productive directions. 

David's book list on making you a better artist

David Chelsea Why did David love this book?

I owe Francis D.K. Ching big time. What I learned about perspective in art school served me well enough during my first few years as a working illustrator, but there came a time when I faced a perspective problem beyond my experience on deadline, and I needed to pick up new skills fast. I knew the neighbor in the next apartment over was a graphic designer, so I knocked on her door to ask if she had any books on perspective, and this is what she had on the shelf. The perspective section is only a small part of this elegantly drawn and hand-lettered book, but the information in it was enough to solve my immediate problem and set me to exploring perspective on my own (and some thirty years later, I found my neighbor again on LinkedIn and returned her copy).

By Francis D. K. Ching,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Architectural Graphics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling guide to architectural drawing, with new information, examples, and resources Architectural Graphics is the classic bestselling reference by one of the leading global authorities on architectural design drawing, Francis D.K. Ching. Now in its sixth edition, this essential guide offers a comprehensive introduction to using graphic tools and drafting conventions to translate architectural ideas into effective visual presentations, using hundreds of the author's distinctive drawings to illustrate the topic effectively. This updated edition includes new information on orthographic projection in relation to 3D models, and revised explanations of line weights, scale and dimensioning, and perspective drawing to clarify…


Book cover of Now Try Something Weirder: How to Keep Having Great Ideas and Survive in the Creative Business

David Airey Author Of Identity Designed: The Definitive Guide to Visual Branding

From my list on visual branding.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a graphic designer, writer, and brand consultant. I work with clients of all sizes, from multinationals to companies of one. Since opening my business in 2005 I’ve created logos and visual identities for brands in more than 30 countries. I run two design blogs Logo Design Love and Identity Designed. They resulted in publishing deals to write their accompanying books, and their pages now get millions of views each year.

David's book list on visual branding

David Airey Why did David love this book?

A relatively small, informal book filled with advice on how to keep having great ideas and how to survive in the creative business. Valuable even in you only pick up for a minute.

By Michael Johnson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Now Try Something Weirder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With 233 (to be exact) hints, tips, and pieces of advice, Now Try Something Weirder shows those in the creative industry how to have great ideas (every day).

Internationally award-winning graphic designer Michael Johnson draws on more than 30 years' experience (his CV clocks up eight creative posts, three dismissals, and the launch of his own business) to share his ultimate secrets to enviable success ... who said you should keep your secrets closely guarded?

Looking to improve the way you work with clients, understand and question design briefs, deliver knockout presentations—and generally gain covetable creative confidence? Sometimes the solution…


Book cover of Etudes: The Poetry of Dreams + Other Fragments

Julie D. Taylor Author Of Spa: The Sensuous Experience

From my list on the art and profession of architecture.

Why am I passionate about this?

Books are my passion; architecture relates to my profession. The combination, for me, is pure joy. I get such pleasure building my personal library of architecture, design, art, and photography books. After having been a magazine editor and writer, I founded Taylor & Company in 1994, to promote the value of architecture and design. My respect for architects is deep—they create something that must function in all ways and are still able to express themselves creatively. The books I’ve selected are all written by architects, giving me an extra layer of admiration for their talents to express themselves in other media. 

Julie's book list on the art and profession of architecture

Julie D. Taylor Why did Julie love this book?

An award-winning architect and poet, Marx explores creative ideas through poetry and watercolors, giving a very different way to view the art and craft of architecture. The paintings have a mysterious calm to them—evoking the work of Giorgio de Chirico—and are poetic in themselves. And then, you get actual poetry alongside the paintings! Graphic artist Jeremy Mende’s layout of the poems adds yet another layer of artistry. The tactility of the book as an object is delightful. Printed on thick watercolor paper, the book appears as a precious portfolio of secret thoughts and dreams. 

By John Marx,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Etudes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

John Marx's watercolours, first published in the Architectural Review, are a captivating example of an architect's way of thinking. Subtle and quiet they are nonetheless compelling works in how they tackle a sense of place, of inhabiting space and time all the while resonating with the core of one's inner being. There is an existential quality to these watercolours that is rare to be found in this medium. Something akin to the psychologically piercing observational quality of artists like De Chirico or Hopper.

As architects strive to communicate their ideas, it is interesting to explore the world of Marx's watercolours…


Book cover of All's Fair in Love and Christmas

Amanda Cabot Author Of After the Shadows

From Amanda's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Avid reader Historical research lover Incurable romantic Mentor

Amanda's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Amanda Cabot Why did Amanda love this book?

Each fall, even though Christmas is months away, I start searching for books that will bring the magic of Christmas to life for me. This year I ordered three that sounded promising. The first was okay but nothing special. The second was so boring that I couldn’t finish it. Was I going to strike out? Fortunately, this book hit a home run.

With one of the most unusual heroines I’ve met and a premise that had me laughing out loud at times, Monzon created the best Christmas book I’ve read in several years. This is a definite keeper.

By Sarah Monzon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All's Fair in Love and Christmas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two workplace rivals. One festive competition. And a romance that upends it all.

Every December two things are guaranteed for graphic designer Mackenzie Graham--Christmas celebrations and the annual promotion at her workplace. Those two things are by no means mutually exclusive. In fact, the better an employee is at harnessing the Christmas spirit, the more likely they'll win the new job. With her social anxiety, Mackenzie never thought she'd be a contender in her company's holiday competition, so how exactly has she found herself dueling her workplace crush with wrapping paper tubes and using tinsel as her weapon of choice…


Book cover of Graphic Artists Guild Handbook, 16th Edition: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines

Michael Fleishman Author Of Drawing Inspiration: Visual Artists at Work

From my list on artistic doodads, thingamabobs, and whatzits.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been a guest lecturer and featured presenter at colleges and conferences, served on the Board of Directors for ICON6, and authored eight published books on illustration and design. I'm a retired college art professor and freelance illustrator and still teach fine art, design, and cartoon classes for kids and adults; I’m also an English Dept. writing tutor at a local college. Right now, I am exploring the medium of cardboard. Cardboard taps into a material that is so ubiquitous and common, it’s often maligned as being inconsequential, but I’m positively tickled to be working in a material that was wonderfully simple and presents a simply wonderful challenge.

Michael's book list on artistic doodads, thingamabobs, and whatzits

Michael Fleishman Why did Michael love this book?

In a book that thoroughly examines the world of art and design, it would be remiss to not discuss the business side of things. So, in my book, I do.

Why? I can’t think of a better way to earn a living than to make a living by doing something you love and that replenishes your soul. And no, selling your art does not mean you are selling your soul.

Hear me out: selling shoes is a worthy occupation. I’ve done that; people will always need shoes. But me, I’d rather sell art. This is the bible of how to sell your work cleanly and not get taken to the cleaners. 

By Graphic Artists Guild,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Graphic Artists Guild Handbook, 16th Edition as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The industry bible for communication design and illustration professionals, with updated information, listings, and pricing guidelines.

Graphic Artists Guild Handbook is the industry bible for communication design and illustration professionals. A comprehensive reference guide, the Handbook helps graphic artists navigate the world of pricing, collecting payment, and protecting their creative work, with essential advice for growing a freelance business to create a sustainable and rewarding livelihood.
 
This sixteenth edition provides excellent, up-to-date guidance, incorporating new information, listings, and pricing guidelines. It offers graphic artists practical tips on how to negotiate the best deals, price their services accurately, and create contracts…