18 Books for Designers (With Categories and Benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 22, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Discovering new information and developing your skills is a valuable use of time as a designer. Reading design books can help you discover new tools and practices to improve your design skills. Learning about books for designers can help you create a library that keeps you inspired and engaged. In this article, we explain why you might read books for designers and highlight 18 design books that provide you with creative inspiration, design guidance, and business advice.

Why read books for designers?

Reading books for designers can help you improve your design thinking process and make you innovative. If you're new to designing, there are design books that can inspire you and help you grow professionally. Reading design books can help increase your creativity and productivity. You can also learn about other cultures, history, modern life, and design psychology through reading books. It can also help to improve your knowledge and vocabulary. You can effectively communicate your designs to others using the right vocabulary.

Related: How to Become a Graphic Designer

6 design books for business and professional development

Here are some books you can read for your business and professional development as a designer:

1. Branding: In Five and a Half Steps

Author Michael Johnson, a graphic designer, discusses the significance of design in branding. This book combines well-researched case studies and illustrations to help the reader understand how brands get successful. It also explains every element involved in developing a successful brand. Michael's explanation of the brand creation process can assist you in approaching branding from a design perspective.

Related: What Is Brand Imaging? (With Importance and Examples)

2. Freelance and Business and Stuff

Authors Amy and Jen Hood provide practical advice in Freelance and Business and Stuff. Reading this book can benefit you if you want to start your design business. This book addresses essential topics such as contracts, growing your customer base, and freelance finances. It also highlights the steps you can take to start your creative studio and provides a business template that can help you.

Related: How to Become a Freelance Artist (With Jobs and Tips)

3. Copy This Book: An Artist's Guide to Copyright

Author Eric Schrijver provides the necessary advice in this book on protecting yourself and your work. This book explains the fundamentals of copyright laws and regulations. It also explains how you can copyright your designs, how long these rights exist, and how copyright operates across various mediums. The book also provides tips on integrating external designs into your work.

4. Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits

Author Debbie Millman, who's also a designer, investigates the relationships between branding and design in this book. This book includes interviews with various recognized marketers, writers, and designers. It offers opinions, interesting case studies, and theories on branding, advertising, brand development, design, and marketing. Reading this book can encourage you to think about branding and design from other viewpoints.

5. How to Be a Graphic Designer without Losing Your Soul

Author Adrian Shaughnessy uses this book as an excellent resource for those new to the business aspect of design. This book offers guidance on winning projects, understanding requirements, freelancing, and collaborating with customers. It can also inspire you to consider your designs perfect when starting your own business. You can also learn from experienced designers through the interviews included in the book.

6. Creative Confidence

Author Tom Kelly outlines the essential tools, techniques, and principles you can use to maximize your creative potential when designing. This book guides you on how to be productive and successful in your design career. It also teaches you to be innovative in problem-solving and design thinking. You can read this book to learn from creativity, design, and innovation experts.

Related: How to Build More Self-Confidence (And Why It's Important)

7 design books for creative thinking

Here are books that can help you develop creative thinking when designing:

1. The Design of Everyday Things

Author Donald Norman discusses design as a communication tool between an object and its user. This book explains how to maximize that communication channel to make the experience of using the object enjoyable. It shares design concepts and techniques that result in user-friendly layouts. It also helps you explore how you see the world and its influence on your design.

Related: What Is User-Centred Design and How Do You Implement It?

2. The Shape of Design

Author Frank Chimero, an illustrator, explores design from a philosophical view. Frank urges readers to contemplate the why of designs, the source of creative obstacles, and the influence of design. This book explains the mental process of a successful designer during the creative process. You can read this book to help you learn how to tell stories with your design and improvise when designing.

3. I Wonder

Author Marian Bantjes, an illustrator, discusses topics ranging from the English alphabet letter forms to pasta shapes. This book presents an interesting collection of insights on design, visual culture, art, popular culture, and beauty. These reflections address roadside advertising, memories, and photography. You can read this book to get inspiration from the collection of ideas and artworks present in the book.

Related: What Is Multimedia Designing? (With Jobs List and Salaries)

4. The Art of Looking Sideways

Author Alan Fletcher uses an extensive collection of illustrations, quotes, science, and musings to inspire designers. This book explores various subjects, such as patterns, colours, culture, illusion, and aesthetics. It also serves as a guide to visual awareness and inspires you if you like the interactions between pictures and words. It can influence your thought on people's perception of visuals.

5. Change by Design

Author Tim Brown introduces the collaborative design and design thinking process to satisfy a customer's needs. This book explains how to integrate design thinking at every organization, service, or product stage. It explains how design thinking can be an approach to solving issues that can help to improve your creativity. You can read this book to get a guide on organizing your creative thinking processes.

6. The Longest Days of the Future

Author Lucas Varela, a graphic designer, demonstrates that you might not need words to tell a compelling story. This graphic novel explains consumerism using science fiction cliches. It demonstrates how images can convey a message effectively. It also enables you to find information and context in the visuals. You can read this book to explore how the author expressed his message through his designs.

7. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art

Author Scott McCloud explores the visual language of comic books. This book discusses how your mind processes comics and how visual storytelling happens in various cultures. It describes comics as an art form and how to use them as a communication tool. You can read this book to understand how to use comic designs to describe your feelings and complex situations.

5 design books about colour, structure, and topography

Here are books that can educate you on colour, structure, and topography:

1. The Secret Lives of Colour

Author Kassia St. Clair explores the history of 75 different colours. This book uses historical narratives to answer questions about why certain colours provoke various emotions. Each chapter discusses an interesting part of history, science, culture, or art related to a particular colour. It also explains the importance of colours to places and people. You can read this book to learn about different colour histories and how the colours ended up with names.

2. Drawing Type: An Introduction to Illustrating Letterforms

Author Alex Fowkes wrote this book for people that learn through practise. This book shows a range of letterforms through interviews with type designers, fragments of sketchbooks that explain the process, and real-world examples. It also urges you to sketch with different typography. There're various font samples discussed in the book that can inspire you to develop your own. You can read this book to develop a unique typographic layout and lettering.

Related: 21 Examples of Jobs in Illustration

3. Geometry of Designs

Author Kimberly Elam illustrates how geometry often contributes to the aesthetic appeal of exceptional designs. This book includes various examples ranging from painting to architecture. A few pages have translucent overlays and grids that illustrate a design's geometrical structure. By reading this book, you can get a mathematical explanation of how art works in a way you can understand.

4. Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, and Students

The second edition of Thinking with Type enhances the solid foundation established in the first. Author Ellen Lupton utilizes theoretical principles, activities, real-world examples, and articles to illustrate how typography influences visual communication. The revised edition covers web-specific typographic issues, such as licensing and font matching, web-specific formatting, and picture captions. You can read this book if you have an interest in designs that use text.

5. The Designer's Dictionary of Colours

Author Sean Adams analyzes 30 colours regarded as essential in graphic design and art. The author divides the colours into four categories, such as neutral, cool, warm, and specialty. This book uses examples to demonstrate how various colours, colour combinations, and shades evoke specific emotions. It also features various palette ideas that you can use to create an effective design.

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