Graphic design touches a wide variety of fields. Take a look around. Chances are you’ll see some type of design element around you: a poster, the clothes you’re wearing, the building you’re in, and even the device you’re using to read this article. Almost everything you see was designed in some way. That’s why being a graphic designer such a great job! But this desirability means you’ll need a good amount of knowledge to make a name for yourself in the industry.
Fortunately, there are lots of educational resources available covering a wide range of design specialties. Some people can learn lots of things very quickly from watching video tutorials. Others will find it easier to learn from books, whether in physical or digital form. To help you get started, I’m sharing some of the best books I know of on learning graphic design. So let’s get started!
Draplin Design Co.: Pretty Much Everything, by Aaron James Draplin
If you’re in the design field and don’t know who Aaron Draplin is, you’ll want to check out this book as soon as you finish reading this article. It is a must for every professional’s collection! Draplin started as your basic small-town guy trying to make a buck where he could. He’s become one of the top logo designers in the whole industry! He’s mostly known for his “thick strokes” and love of old marketing pieces.
This book will teach you to love what you do not only for the money it provides but for the great opportunities it can bring you. It will give you a whole new perspective on what graphic design truly is. Aaron digs deep to bring together everything he’s learned over the years: from what he learned in college, to how he landed his first gig, to landing a major brand deal, etc. So, grab your notebook and pen (or electronic devices) and take a trip to Draplin Design Co. Take as many notes as you can, and then bring them out the next time you open your sketchbook or program. I guarantee they’ll come useful once you begin to see “design” through Aaron’s eyes.
The Elements of Typographic Style, by Robert Bringhurst
As I mentioned before, just about everything around us involves some sort of design. Now, what if I were to tell you, even your handwriting is a type of design? Crazy, isn’t it! But graphic design and typography (the style and appearance of printed matter) have a direct relationship with one another.
This book, written by a famous typographer and poet Robert Bringhurst, explores the history of written and printed materials, including the development of alphabets, layout, and typefaces. It’s an important resource for any digital artist or graphic designer who specializes in fonts. Bringhurst covers the theoretical and the practical, the traditional and the latest knowledge about typography. This wealth of information can help elevate your skills to a higher level.
Logo: The Reference Guide To Symbols and Logotypes, by Michael Evamy
While Aaron James Draplin may be best known as a logo designer, his book covers graphic design as a whole. This book by journalist Michael Evamy, on the other hand, focuses strictly on the history of logos. It’s a collection of over 1,300 symbols and logotypes from over 150 firms from around the world, including work from industry legends such as Paul Rand and Saul Bass.
Evamy organizes his examples into 75 different categories, making it easy to find the inspiration you’re seeking. It’s a fantastic resource for brushing up on your logo design skills.
Grid Systems in Graphic Design, by Josef Müller-Brockmann
You may not know it, but grid systems have significant importance in graphic design. This book by Josef Müller is filled with all the information you need about how grid systems work. Although he originally released his book back in 1961, many of its core concepts are still relevant in today’s world. It includes many of the essential frameworks to help you create more engaging page layouts.
Because it also includes 3-dimensional grid techniques, this book is a great addition to the library of people working in CAD, as well as more traditional 2-D layouts.
Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team, by Alina Wheeler
For my final pick, I chose a book that defines design as a whole. If you wish to succeed in this industry, you must understand the principles of branding. It’s crucial for everything you will do in the field — including creating a distinctive brand for yourself!
Understanding the WHY in everything you do will help you create amazing designs and accomplish great work. Wheeler’s book explains the fundamentals for creating, building, and maintaining a strong brand identity. She shares a five-phase process for creating a global brand identity. The research, analysis, and strategies you can find here will help you create highly successful brands. Soak up all you can, and then put it to action on the artboard to build your career.
I hope I’ve inspired you to give these books a try. Remember that understanding how graphic design has evolved over time will only help you further your career. Don’t hesitate to search for more knowledge every day!
Ready to put your knowledge to work? Don’t miss these other articles on how to master the tools and skills you need to succeed.