Master Graphic Design: 7 Must-Read Design Books for Career Success - Pixcap

Master Graphic Design: 7 Must-Read Design Books for Career Success - Pixcap

Master Graphic Design: 7 Must-Read Design Books for Career Success - Pixcap

Master Graphic Design: 7 Must-Read Design Books for Career Success - Pixcap

Get ahead in graphic design with this hand-picked selection of 7 must-reads! Read up on everything you need to know to master the craft and excel in your career.

Get ahead in graphic design with this hand-picked selection of 7 must-reads! Read up on everything you need to know to master the craft and excel in your career.

Get ahead in graphic design with this hand-picked selection of 7 must-reads! Read up on everything you need to know to master the craft and excel in your career.

Jul 17, 2023

Jul 17, 2023

Jul 17, 2023


Introduction to Graphic Design Books 

Beautifully crafted, glossy books have a universal allure that leaves us in awe with every page turn. Much like an experienced artist who can tell fascinating stories on blank canvases, skilled graphic designers create magic through distinctive visuals. That's why we are writing this piece—to share a collection of print masterpieces that have inspired us.

These books are more than just guides on graphic design; they are treasure troves curated by experts worldwide. Each book offers vital insights into design theory, typography, color schemes, and much more. Both professionals and beginners will find these books to be invaluable resources that can launch their graphic design careers.

Types of Graphic Design Books

Navigating the world of graphic design can seem daunting without a map. Fortunately, we can categorize graphic design books much like astronomers classify celestial bodies. Here are some categories:

  1. Design Theory & Basics: Foundational comprehension is pivotal for anyone dabbling in creative disciplines including graphic design.

  2. Typography: Words transform into artwork under the astute lens of typography.

  3. Color Theory: Branches out extensively within visual communication fields. Think hues, saturation, and brightness; it involves all!

  4. Brand Identity Design: A specialized domain focusing on creating memorable brand identities.

  5. Motion Graphics: Where still visuals spring life and immerse viewers more deeply.

  6. Web & Apps UI/UX: Pertains specifically to user-friendly website and app designs.

  7. Interactive Media Designs: Encourages viewer participation making experiences more dynamic and engaging.

In this article, we've listed our 7 must-read design books. Ranging from basic, branding, business and case studies, you're sure to find an inspiring read here that will help reinvigorate your creative practice.

  1. Graphic Design School by David Dabner, Sandra Stewart, Abbie Vickress

The realm of graphic design beckons both seasoned professionals and beginners alike. It is poignant to keep ourselves fueled with the best resources available, one such treasure trove being the "Graphic Design School" penned by esteemed authors - David Dabner, Sandra Stewart, and Abbie Vickress.

Who Are These Authors?

David Dabner rooted his career in print and has been an influential figure within the industry for many years. Joining him on this venture are Sandra Stewart, a pro at multimedia design principles, and Abbie Vickress who specialises in digital design pedagogies.

This trio created what many regard as one of the best books for graphic designers - The Graphic Design School.

What's Inside This Book?

Covering everything from traditional print to contemporary digital designs, this book stands out among other beginner graphic design books due to its breadth. From practical advice on how to start a project and professional portfolio building tips to understanding different forms of visual communication conundrums; it's all covered here.

  • Traditional Print: Learn color theory when working with physical media.

  • Contemporary Digital: Understand how colours behave differently in digital space.

  • Portfolio Building Tips: Learn how to showcase your creativity professionally.

  • Visual Communication: Master typography, line art and vector images amongst others.

Drawing lessons from real-life projects undertaken in various sectors across the industry makes learning feel like an engaging practitioner’s journal rather than a static textbook you'd find gathering dust on some back shelf.

Why Should You Read It?

Reading 'Graphic Design School' School is a foundation course for graphic designers working in print, moving images, and digital media.

• Practical advice on all aspects of graphic design – from understanding the basics to devising an original concept and creating successful finished designs.

• Examples are taken from all media – magazines, books, newspapers, digital media, websites, and corporate brand identities.

• Packed with exercises and tutorials for students and real-world graphic design briefs.

This revised Fifth Edition contains specific advice on how to adapt designs to suit different projects, including information on digital imaging techniques, motion graphics, and designing for the web and small-screen applications.

In addition, upcoming initiators into the field who pick up their copy will have another major respite — alongside providing outstanding foundational training on graphics', specific emphasis has also been laid upon crafting breath-taking portfolios that would inevitably capture prospective clients’ eyes at first glance itself! With so much value packed into these pages, it's no surprise that Graphic Design School remains as a timeless favourite for those setting sail towards uncharted creative horizons.

  1. Designing Brand Identity by Alina Wheeler

"Designing Brand Identity" by Alina Wheeler is a highly recommended read for anyone in the design field, particularly those focused on branding. Considered one of the most comprehensive guides in design education, Wheeler’s book offers a systematic approach to brand design, starting from understanding stakeholders to crafting brand standards and sharing them with your teams and the world.

Regardless of where you stand in your career journey, whether you're just starting or already leading in the industry, this book proves invaluable. It's equally beneficial for freelancers, in-house teams, or agencies. The fifth edition of "Designing Brand Identity" serves as an excellent resource and reference point for the brand identity process, featuring insights from major brands across various touchpoints.

The fifth edition is hailed as the best edition yet, with 50% new content. It includes 33 case studies featuring a range of brands from Mozilla to the City of Melbourne. The book showcases hundreds of new best practices that beautifully blend strategic insights with brilliant design. Wheeler has reached out globally to some of the best designers, in-house teams, and companies to compile examples where brands combine intelligence and insight with imagination and craft.

The book provides quick reference guidance on a broad array of branding topics such as conducting research, clarifying strategy, designing identity, creating touchpoints, and managing assets. For newcomers and experienced brand specialists alike, the book presents a roadmap for navigating a project from beginning to end.

In addition, "Designing Brand Identity" features insightful case studies. It offers a glimpse into how many iconic brands, like FedEx, Starbucks, Spectrum Health, IBM Watson, and Kleenex, have reshaped their image to connect with audiences and enhance brand recognition.

In conclusion, "Designing Brand Identity" is a worthy addition to the collection of anyone responsible for a company's branding efforts, designing new brand guidelines, or building brands for others. If you're contemplating purchasing a book on branding, this is undoubtedly a fantastic place to begin. It's not just a book, it's a comprehensive guide to understanding and mastering the art of branding.

  1. Now Try Something Weirder by Michael Johnson

"Try Something Weirder" by Michael Johnson is a helpful book full of tips for creative people. Johnson shares 233 tips from his long career as a graphic designer. He's held many roles, faced challenges, and even started his own business. Now, he's sharing what he learned with others.

This book teaches you important skills. You'll learn how to work well with clients, understand design briefs, and make good presentations. It also helps you become more confident in your creative work.

"Now Try Something Weirder" is perfect for anyone in a creative job, especially designers. The book shows you how to succeed in your career. Johnson's advice is easy to understand and apply. He encourages readers to be brave and try new, even weird, ideas.

So, if you're a designer or a creative person looking for new ways to grow and get better, this book is for you. It's full of real-life advice from a successful designer. By reading it, you can learn new things and become more successful in your own work.


  1. Extra Bold by multiple authors

"Extra Bold" is a must-read book for everyone in the design field. It's written by a diverse team of authors, including Ellen Lupton, Jennifer Tobias, Josh Halstead, Leslie Xia, and Kaleena Sales. This isn't just a career guide, it's a whole new look at design, with a focus on being inclusive and understanding.

This book is fun and informative, with a mix of different styles. It's part textbook, part comic book, and part self-help manual. It has a lot of stories and ideas that you won't find in other books about design or careers.

"Extra Bold" is also very practical. It talks about power in the workplace and how to deal with it. It has interviews with people at all career levels. It also has stories about people who have faced challenges because of sexism, racism, or ableism. Plus, it has useful guides on a range of topics, from starting your career, to dealing with wage gaps, and more.

The book also gives a fresh perspective on design. It starts with essays that look at design through the lens of feminism, anti-racism, and inclusion. It features work from a wide range of contributors, with diverse backgrounds and identities. This adds new voices to the conversation about design.

One special thing about "Extra Bold" is the illustrations by Jennifer Tobias. They add humor and depth to the book, making it even more enjoyable to read.

In summary, "Extra Bold" is a unique, inclusive guide for designers. It gives practical advice, tells important stories, and helps you think about design in new ways. Whether you're starting your career or have been in the field for years, this book has something for you.


  1. The Graphic Design Reference + Specification Book by Poppy Evans and Aaris Sherin

"The Graphic Design Reference & Specification Book" is a comprehensive resource that every designer, whether a novice or an expert, should have at their disposal. This book is part of the Reference & Specification Book series by Rockport Publishers, which is dedicated to providing crucial, up-to-date information to students and professionals in various creative fields in an easily digestible format.

This book is highly practical, focusing only on the most necessary information. It is filled with the minute details that have a significant impact on the success of a design. For instance, it explains the amount of space to leave in the gutter when creating barrel folds, and how to layout a template for a box, including the proportions of each part.

Moreover, the book includes valuable resources such as metric conversion charts, standards for copyright and trademarks, proofreaders' symbols, and details about image file formats and standard camera formats and sizes. It also provides advice on how to achieve the optimal scanning resolution.

Additionally, the book covers the fundamentals and terminology of type design, provides a guide to various printing processes, and discusses the appropriate usage of different types of paper. It presents information on standard binding types and a process color finder. Furthermore, it enlightens the reader about various proofing methods and lists standard envelope sizes in the USA, Europe, Canada, and Asia, among other important topics.

In conclusion, "The Graphic Design Reference & Specification Book" serves as a convenient, portable reference that covers an expansive range of details that designers often need but might struggle to find. This book, like the others in Rockport Publishers' Reference & Specification Book series, offers indispensable, up-to-date information that both students and practicing professionals in various creative fields will find highly beneficial.


  1. Book of Branding by Radim Malinic

Book of Branding" is a useful guide written by Radim Malinic, a well-known creative director and designer. This book is perfect for anyone who wants to understand the world of brand identity, especially start-ups and new businesses.

What makes this book special is its friendly and clear style. Malinic avoids complicated jargon, making it easy for everyone to understand the world of branding. If you're an entrepreneur, a founder, a designer, or just interested in branding, this book is for you.

"Book of Branding" is more than just a guide. It helps you understand the key parts of brand identity. Malinic shares his own experiences, insights, and tips. He also uses real case studies to show how good teamwork can lead to great results.

This book is not just about creating a brand. It shows how visual identity is a key part of a brand's strategy. It's a creative guide that can help new businesses, start-ups, and individuals to build a successful brand.

In short, "Book of Branding" is a must-read for anyone interested in branding. It's an easy-to-understand guide that can help you create a strong brand identity. Whether you're just starting out or already have some experience, this book has valuable lessons for you.


  1. Graphic Design: The New Basics by Ellen Lupton & Jennifer Cole Phillips

"Graphic Design: The New Basics" by Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips is a highly acclaimed introduction to the field of graphic design. This book, now available in a revised and updated second edition, serves as an essential guide to the key concepts of visual language that underpin all design work.

Lupton and Phillips, both seasoned designers and educators, delve into the formal elements of design using vivid visual demonstrations and succinct commentary. This book simplifies complex design concepts, making it an excellent resource for everyone - from beginners to seasoned professionals. Whether you're working on logos, letterheads, or complex website design, this book has something valuable to offer

The book covers a wide array of topics including color, texture, rhythm and balance, hierarchy, layers, and grids, among others. It dissects each of these elements, providing a clear understanding of how they contribute to effective design.

The revised edition introduces new chapters on visualizing data, typography, modes of representation, and Gestalt principles. These additions make the book even more comprehensive and relevant to current design practices.

Furthermore, the book is embellished with sixteen new pages of student and professional work, showcasing practical examples of concepts such as working with grids and designing with color. This feature, coupled with the comprehensive content, makes the book a favorite for course adoption in graphic design programs and schools.

In summary, "Graphic Design: The New Basics" offers a robust introduction to the world of graphic design. It’s an invaluable resource for beginners and a useful reference for experienced professionals. The authors' expertise as accomplished designers and educators shines through, providing readers with an accessible and insightful journey into the fundamental elements of graphic design.


Benefits of Reading Graphic Design Books

As an aspiring designer or even an established professional, investing time in reading the best graphic design books is invaluable. There are numerous advantages associated with this endeavor; let me walk you through the most prominent ones.

Increased Knowledge and Skill Set

The world of graphic design can be intricate for beginners and veterans alike. However, going through expertly written materials like beginner graphic design books enables readers to acquire new knowledge about the latest trends and techniques in the industry. As a result, they'll succeed in expanding their skill set substantially.

Understanding of Diverse Styles

Each book for designers has its unique flair. For instance, some texts focus on digital design while others emphasize poster design or even branding aesthetics. Immersing yourself in these diverse universes helps comprehend versatile stylistic approaches which eventually broadens your perception and improves your versatility as a creative practitioner.

Exposure to Experts' Insights

These graphic designer books aren't just repositories of abstract theory - they're also rich in personal insights from thought leaders who've shaped the industry over decades Frequently, such perspectives offer ingenious solutions to everyday issues that can occur during the creative process.

Moreover, critically acclaimed offerings like 'Know Your Onions,' authored by Drew De Soto, prolifically showcase wisdom born out of substantial experience in navigating complex professional terrains. It’s akin to having industry-approved mentors guiding you every step of your journey!

Fostering Innovation

Last but importantly, continually exploring the dynamic library of designs presented in these collections fosters a culture of creativity and innovation within readers. Masterpieces such as The Art of Looking Sideways by Alan Fletcher or Citizen First Designer Second by Rejane Dal Bello prompt inherent innovativeness. They encourage readers to think outside conventional paradigms whilst still appreciating foundational principles.

In light of all these underlined benefits, it's easy to see why delving deep into an array of excellent reads constitutes a vital part of becoming a commendable designer. So embrace this world - one book at a time!

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