10 Must Read Design Books


Looking for a bit of design inspiration? There are thousands of books out there that can help design and creative thinking. Whether you’re studying, working in creative design or just looking for to learn something new, we’ve picked out some of our favourite books on design, creativity and being a designer to get you started.

On Being a Designer

How to Be a Graphic Designer, Without Losing Your Soul, by Adrian Shaughnessy.

Using his own experiences, designer and author Adrian Shaughnessy has written a book aimed at new designers and the concerns of making a living whilst remaining original. The latest edition (2010) includes chapters on professional skills, the creative process and global trends, such as green issues, ethics and the rise of digital culture.

Work for Money, Design for Love, by David Airey.

Photo by Kyle Ryan on Unsplash

How do you find new clients? How much should you charge for your design work? When should you say no to a client?… Work for Money, Design for Love is inspired by the questions Airey receives on his three blogs, Logo Design LoveIdentity Designed and DavidAirey.com, with more than 60,000 visitors every month in total.

On Design

The Elements of Typographic Style: Version 4.0, by Robert Bringhurst.

An easy-to-read book on modern typography that covers the art, history and technical details of the field. The Elements of Typography Style was originally published in 1992 and has been revised on several occasions. The most recent edition (2013) includes information on digital typography.

Just My Type: A Book about Fonts, by Simon Garfield.

Did you know that Obama’s team chose the Gotham font for its combination of contemporary sophistication with the American sense of duty? Or that Amy Winehouse found her font in 30s Art Deco, a period that influenced her music? Simon Garfield explains the decisions behind every successful marketing campaign. According to The Guardian, this “lyrical study of typefaces will make font-spotters of us all.”

Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, by Steve Krug.

A witty and practical read that puts common sense at the centre of every decision. Originally published in 2000, the most recent edition (2014) re-examines the principles Krug exposed fourteen years before and includes a new chapter on mobile usability.

Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team, by Alina Wheeler.

Split into 3 sections focussing on brand fundamentals, process and case studies this book isn’t just for creative and graphic designers but for anyone interested in design and branding. With the latest edition also including chapters social media, SEO, user experience, branding and mobile, this is a great read to learn and develop new skills in the ever changing digital world.

On Creativity

It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be, by Paul Arden.

Written by Paul Arden, creative director of Saatchi and Saatchi, you can open any page of this small book and always find an inspiring thought. Arden uses his own biography to offer his wisdom on topics such as brief, communicating, playing your cards right, making mistakes, and creativity.

Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist, by M. Bieirut and P. Hall.

Although it’s out of print, it’s worth keeping an eye out for this book. The late Tilbon Kalman was as a graphic designer and the editor-in-chief of the Colors magazine. Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist reveals Kalman’s thoughts on magazines, advertising,  bookstores, food, the design profession and many other topics.

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration, by Ed Catmull

Born in 1945, as a young man Ed Catmull dreamt of making the world’s first computer-animated movie. Fifty years later, he was one of the creators of Toy Story, which changed the animation industry forever. In this book, Catmull tells this journey and explains how he’s built one of the most profitable companies in the world without losing his curiosity and always striving for originality.

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You about Being Creative, by Austin Kleon

With more than 95K Twitter followers, Austin Kleon’s introduction says: “I’m a writer who draws. I make art with words and books with pictures.” Kleon is a combination of wisdom and fun, who will help you open your mind and find inspiration in places and ways you never imagined before.