6 must-read graphic design books for 2021.

6 must-read graphic design books for 2021

The wealth of inspiration and knowledge that can be found in a good book is usually incomparable to the readily available content on the internet. So whether you’re a design guru looking to swot up on design theory, a young gun igniting your creative bonfire, a web design wizard recharging your creative batteries, a side hustler learning some new skills, or someone contemplating a career change. Dipping into specialist areas outside your own will make you a better, more rounded designer.

Never before in history has the creative industry been so visually and aesthetically-focused, meaning that the need for graphic designers is more urgent than ever. In this article, we’ve curated the best graphic design books on the market, from timeless classics to modern masterpieces.

Time to update your graphic design arsenal!

Logo Modernism by Jens Müller

01. Logo Modernism

by Jens Müller

Logo Modernism is an unprecedented catalogue of modern trademarks. A physically large book of over 6,000 trademarks, organised into three chapters- geometric, effect, and typographic. In order to both educate as well as provide a comprehensive index of inspirational logo designs created in the period of 1940–1980, when modernist attitudes had a major effect on corporate identity.

It also contains profiles of influential designers, and case studies of significant logo projects, like the Mexico Olympic Games of 1968.

Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton

02. Thinking with Type

by Ellen Lupton

The definitive guide to using typography in visual design. While there are many books about typography covering different areas of the topic, but if you’re interested in learning about typography then this is a good one.

The way Ellen Lupton wrote this book with some humor making it enjoyable to read. It includes an explanation on how to do things right as well as helpful examples of what not to do. It is organised into three sections: letter, text, and grid. Each section begins with an overview of that category, its definition, and history. Then splits into multiple smaller sections about specific languages.

The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St Clair

03. The Secret Lives of Color

by Kassia St Clair

The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St Clair is an excellent book. It tells the unusual stories of 75 fascinating shades, dyes, and hues. From blonde to ginger, the brown that changed the way battles were fought to the white that protected against the plague, Picasso’s blue period to the charcoal on the cave walls at Lascaux, from yellow in Van Gogh’s Sunflowers to kelly green, and from scarlet women to imperial purple, these surprising stories run like a bright thread throughout history.

The Secret Lives of Color is a great read and one that you’ll enjoy whether at your desk or sipping coffee at home. Kassia St. Clair has turned her lifelong obsession with colors and where they come from into a unique study of human civilization. Across fashion and politics, art and war, the secret lives of color tell the vivid story of our culture.

Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits by Debbie Millman

04. Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits

by Debbie Millman

We are now living in a world with over one hundred brands of bottled water. The United States alone is home to over 45,000 shopping malls. And there are more than 19 million customized beverage choices a barista can whip up at your local Starbucks. Whether it’s good or bad, the real question is why we behave this way in the first place. Why do we telegraph our affiliations or our beliefs with symbols, signs, and codes?

If you hadn’t heard of Debbie Millman before, you’ll get to know all about her in this book. Don’t be mistaken, Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits isn’t one of those books that’s actually just a collection of blog posts. It’s an insightful and complex dialogue between her and her interviewee, their thoughts guided by her experienced designer’s sensibility.

How to… by Michael Beirut

05. How to…

by Michael Beirut

A monograph examining the life work of legendary veteran graphic designer and Pentagram partner, Michael Bierut. The book spans 35 projects and delivers unique insights into the potential of graphic design and illustrates the varied role that graphic design plays in the modern world.

Rough sketches and rejected ideas sit alongside finished work. Michael Beirut’s this book is packed with insights into the creative process, making it a valuable resource that is inspiring, informative, authoritative, and liberating- that has become the graphic design bible for most designers today.

The User Experience Team of One… By Leah Buley

06. The User Experience Team of One…

By Leah Buley

This book springs from the idea that, very often, product or web design projects are horribly understaffed and, more often than not, it’s you, poor designer, who will end up having to do all kinds of jobs that aren’t *technically* in your job description. The author, Buley, is a design strategist herself, so her book is filtered through design eyes and will undoubtedly help any designer who has suddenly got user experience on their (already overcrowded) plate.

The User Experience Team of One prescribes a range of approaches that have a big impact and take less time and fewer resources than the standard lineup of UX deliverables. If the UX of a project has fallen in your lap, this is the book you need. It shows you what’s essential, what’s not, and where you can safely cut corners and reduce work.

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AltEsc

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Meet AltEsc, the world’s first Creative Cloud Agency. We are a design agency, marketing agency, advertising agency rolled into one. With the power of cloud.

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