Learn from the best: Great books by leading designers that offer career wisdom

You've learnt a lot from lecturers and graduates on what they wish they'd known before becoming a graphic designer. Now it's time to extend that wisdom by learning from some of the industry's biggest and best names.

Image licensed via Adobe Stock

Image licensed via Adobe Stock

Anthony Burrill, Debbie Millman, Adrian Shaughnessy, Jessica Hische... they have all published insightful books that cover all aspects of a career in design. From how to run a business and become a successful freelancer to grid systems and interesting life lessons, these titles make excellent bedtime reading.

Make It Now!: Creative Inspiration & The Art of Getting Things Done by Anthony Burrill

Brought to you by graphic artist Anthony Burrill, Make It Now! is a life-affirming guide to new thinking, creative problem-solving and getting things done. Full of inspiration and ideas, his best-loved prints as well as new work, this title will get you thinking bigger and better, and recharge your creativity.

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

Graphic designer Adrian Shaughnessy is a senior tutor in Visual Communication at the Royal College of Art and a founding partner of Unit Editions. He's also a writer and amongst his many published books, he has produced this career manual to guide you through the profession. Drawing on the wealth of his experience, it addresses the concerns you might have about earning a living from graphic design.

Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far by Stefan Sagmeister

Stefan Sagmeister brings us this excellent book that features things he has learned in his life so far. What began as musings in his diary soon transformed into typographic works for clients around the world. See what he produced and learn from his wisdom too.

In Progress: See Inside a Lettering Artist's Sketchbook and Process, from Pencil to Vector by Jessica Hische

This show-all romp through design-world darling Jessica Hische's sketchbook reveals the creative and technical process behind making award-winning hand lettering. See everything, from Hische's rough sketches to her polished finals for major clients such as Wes Anderson, NPR and Starbucks. The result is a well of inspiration and brass tacks information for designers who want to sketch distinctive letterforms and hone their skills.

Draplin Design Co. Pretty Much Everything by Aaron Draplin

Discover Aaron Draplin's mid-career survey of work, case studies, inspiration, road stories, lists, maps, how-tos, and advice. It includes examples of his work—posters, record covers, logos—and presents the process behind his design with projects like Field Notes and the "Things We Love" State Posters. Draplin also offers valuable advice and hilarious commentary that illustrates how much more goes into design than just what appears on the page.

Know Your Onions: Graphic Design: How to Think Like a Creative, Act Like a Businessman and Design Like a God by Drew de Soto

Read this book and gain twenty years of experience in how to think like a creative, act like a businessman, and design like a god. This book is practical and immediate, without being condescending or overly technical. Know Your Onions gives away the secrets of graphic design.

Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits by Debbie Millman

This engaging and enlightening book courtesy of design visionary Debbie Millman is an unprecedented forum on the state of modern branding and how companies and consumers can best understand the behaviour behind why we brand and why we buy. Including interviews with Malcolm Gladwell, Tom Peters, Seth Godin, and godfather of modern branding Wally Olins.

Paul Rand: A Designer's Art by Paul Rand

Paul Rand was one of the world's leading graphic designers. Here, he describes his work with the same precision, economy and passion that he displays in his graphic designs, seeking to help us to understand the nature of his relationships with his clients, his audience and his art.

Grid Systems in Graphic Design by Josef Müller-Brockmann

Thanks to Josef Müller-Brockmann, this book is perfect for those who work with automated text and image design. It shows excellent examples of working correctly on a conceptual level, and exact directions for using all of the grid systems presented (8 to 32 grid fields). An essential for any graphic designer.

Thinking with Type, Second Revised and Expanded Edition: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, and Students by Ellen Lupton

Thinking with Type is the definitive guide to using typography in visual communication, from the printed page to the computer screen. It includes the latest information on style sheets for print and the web, the use of ornaments and captions, lining and non-lining numerals, the use of small caps and enlarged capitals, as well as information on captions, font licensing, mixing typefaces, and hand lettering. Brought to you by Ellen Lupton – the legendary American graphic designer.

Damn Good Advice (For People With Talent!) by George Lois

Presenting iconic lessons from America's 'Master Communicator', George Lois, this book is a bible of breakthrough thinking. A no-holds-barred, in your face compendium of lessons for a life lived to the fullest written for anyone looking to make a creative difference.


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