Graphic Design Books You Must Read in 2020

60+ Graphic Design Books You Must Read in 2020 πŸ“–

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By: Rita Asta July 20, 2020 9 minutes

Graphic Design Books. In the modern world, graphic design is extremely demanded and talented designers make a whole bunch of money on their products. However, what exactly this creative profession is, how to become a true professional in this field, and what books will help you master your skills? This is exactly what we are going to talk about today.

What Do Graphic Designers Do

A graphic designer’s job is the unity of creativity and logic because these designers have to solve several important, and pretty often complex, tasks at the same time. The difficulty of this job lays in the fact that the product created by such a designer (logo, font, etc.) must be bright, memorable and unique, as well as correspond to the specifics of the organization for which it is being developed, and at the same time, it must be suitable for printing. Therefore, logic is extremely important.

The essence of the job

This very job is pretty much all about the corporate style creation for a company or, using the modern term, the identity of the company, that is, the development of logos, color schemes, fonts, etc. At the same time, a graphic designer can also work in the field of printing. Thus, he or she can create layouts of advertising printed products such as calendars, booklets, design packaging, souvenir products, merchandise, as well as make layouts for books and magazines.

Main clients

The main clients of graphic designers are:
Publishers;
Editorials;
Design bureaus and studios;
Advertising agencies;
Entrepreneurs and startup owners;
Bloggers.

Skills required for this work

A good designer should have the following skills:
Basic knowledge of design (basics of painting and drawing, coloring and composition, etc.);
Advanced knowledge in the field of graphic design (types and genres of graphics, graphic techniques, typography, the use of photographs and illustrations);
Knowledge of graphic design software (QuarkXPress ‚Photoshop, Illustrator‚ CorelDraw, etc.).

As you can see, this job is exciting and stressful at the same time. However, if you are well-prepared for such a creative job, you shouldn’t have any difficulties in your work at all. Well, in order to become a true professional in this field, you might want to read some graphic design books, which we are going to talk about a little bit later.

The Difference Between Graphic Design and Art

Many people think that any artist can become a graphic designer (which is actually true), however, there are many drastic differences between art and graphic design. In fact, graphic designers, just like other representatives of creative professions such as photographers and artists, use the same tools, laws, and techniques to help them solve creative problems. At the same time, an artist tells the viewer his or her own perception of the world as well as conveys his or her own emotional and personal point of view to the viewer. The artist’s clients are people who are into unique drawing techniques as well as those who sympathize with the artist. As a rule, a creative person conveys an artistic idea with their own style of performance, which affects the commercial success of an artist.

At the same time, a graphic designer is a communicator between a client and society. The work of the graphic designer, which reflects the goals and values ​​of the client, conveys a visual message to the target audience. A graphic designer selects a harmonious combination of typefaces, chooses a color palette, and creates graphic elements. The tasks of the designer include building a catchy composition and working with contrast and graphic masses. Therefore, unlike an artist, a designer, first of all, takes into account the wishes of the client, reveals the idea with the help of a visual message, and eventually gets paid for that.

Thus, even though such a job is extremely creative, it cannot be called art simply because you aren’t able to express your feelings and emotions through it due to the fact that you have to create a commercial product that will promote a company, startup, organization, etc. as well as satisfy your client.

How to Become a Graphic Design God

Many beginners who aren’t sure about the quality of their products want to improve their skills, however, very few of them know how to actually do that. So for those of you who still don’t know how to work on your skills, here are some sure methods to improve those.

Be friends with other experienced designers

Having at least a few experienced designers among your friends is a huge benefit for you. People who have been working in this field for a couple of years will give you more unique knowledge than any textbook, so communicate with other designers and some of them will surely share their professional secrets and tricks with you.

Watch YouTube tutorials

Okay, this one might sound lame especially for those of you who already have some experience but you should never underestimate YouTube tutorials. Some of those videos contain priceless information and useful tips and tricks that might significantly ease and accelerate your work. Well, go ahead and watch some tutorials.

Never stop learning

Even if you already feel like you are a true pro, it doesn’t mean that you can stop learning and growing as a professional. Visit some workshops or masterclasses, read some books, and be open to everything new.

Keep up with the trends

Design trends come and go pretty much every season, which means that you have to keep up with those quickly-changing tendencies in order to come up with up-to-date products. Luckily, finding out those trends is not that difficult and there is a whole bunch of articles on this topic in our blog.

Make sure you actually know the theory

The theory of design is the ultimate basis, so you have to make sure that you know it perfectly well. Fortunately, there is a lot of books that will help you master the theory and not only, which we are going to talk about now.

Best Design Books You Must Read

Finally, we got to the main part of this article, which is the best design books. So without further ado, let us have a look at them.

Web Design Books

Web Design with HTML, CSS, JavaScript and jQuery Set by Jon Duckett

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Learning Web Design: A Beginner’s Guide to HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Web Graphics by Jennifer Robbins

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HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites by Jon Duckett

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Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (3rd Edition) (Voices That Matter) by Steve Krug

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Responsive Web Design with HTML5 and CSS: Develop future-proof responsive websites using the latest HTML5 and CSS techniques by Ben Frain

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Web Design Playground: HTML & CSS the Interactive Way by Paul McFedries

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HTML QuickStart Guide: The Simplified Beginner’s Guide To HTML by ClydeBank Technology

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The Complete Website Planning Guide: A step-by-step guide on how to create a practical and successful plan for your next web design project by Darryl King

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HTML, CSS, and JavaScript All in One, Sams Teach Yourself by Julie C. Meloni and Jennifer Kyrnin

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Web Coding & Development All-in-One For Dummies by Paul McFedries

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UX Design Books

The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

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100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People by Susan M. Weinschenk

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The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman

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Universal Principles of Design: 100 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach Through Design by William Lidwell, Jill Butler, Kritina Holden

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The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less by Richard Koch

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Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

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Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

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UX for Beginners: A Crash Course in 100 Short Lessons by Joel Marsh

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The Basics of User Experience Design: A UX Design Book by the Interaction Design Foundation by Mads Soegaard

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How to Get a UX Design Job: Create a compelling portfolio, submit a stand-out application, and ace the interview to land your user experience dream job by Lisa Murnan and Jenn Paul Glaser

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Logo Design Books

Logo Modernism by Jens Müller and R. Roger Remington

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Draplin Design Co.: Pretty Much Everything by Aaron James Draplin

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Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities by David Airey

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Logo Design. Global Brands by Julius Wiedemann

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Identity Designed: The Definitive Guide to Visual Branding by David Airey

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Logotype: (Corporate Identity Book, Branding Reference for Designers and Design Students) by Michael Evamy

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The Logo Design Idea Book: (Logo Beginners Guide, Logo Design Basics, Visual Branding Book) by Steven Heller and Gail Anderson

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Creating a Brand Identity: A Guide for Designers: (Graphic Design Books, Logo Design, Marketing) by Catharine Slade-Brooking

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Logo Design by Julius Wiedemann

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Logo: The Reference Guide to Symbols and Logotypes by Michael Evamy

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Game Design Books

The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses by Jesse Schell

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Level Up! The Guide to Great Video Game Design by Scott Rogers

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Game Feel by Steve Swink

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Building Blocks of Tabletop Game Design: An Encyclopedia of Mechanisms by Geoffrey Engelstein and Isaac Shalev

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The Ultimate Guide to Video Game Writing and Design by Flint Dille and John Zuur Platten

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Game Programming Patterns by Robert Nystrom

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Games, Design and Play: A detailed approach to iterative game design by Colleen Macklin and John Sharp

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Video Game Storytelling: What Every Developer Needs to Know about Narrative Techniques by Evan Skolnick

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Drawing Basics and Video Game Art: Classic to Cutting-Edge Art Techniques for Winning Video Game Design by Chris Solarski

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Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made by Jason Schreier

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Graphic Design Books

Graphic Design For Everyone: Understand the Building Blocks so You can Do It Yourself by Cath Caldwell

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eBook: How to Start Earning More? Successful Designer

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How to Become an Illustrator – Free Checklist

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Watercolor Video Tutorial: Painting an Easter Rabbit [for Beginners]

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Graphic Design School: The Principles and Practice of Graphic Design by David Dabner, Sandra Stewart, Abbie Vickress

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The History of Graphic Design. Vol. 2, 1960–Today by Jens Müller and Julius Wiedemann

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The Non-Designer’s Design Book by Robin Williams

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How to Use Graphic Design to Sell Things, Explain Things, Make Things Look Better, Make People Laugh, Make People Cry, and (Every Once in a While) Change the World Hardcover by Michael Bierut

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Graphic Design: The New Basics by Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips

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Graphic Design Play Book: An Exploration of Visual Thinking (Logo, Typography, Website, Poster, Web, and Creative Design) by Sophie Cure and Barbara Seggio

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Typography Books

The Visual History of Type: A visual survey of 320 typefaces by Paul McNeil

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Free eBook: Everything Is In The Fonts – A Book For Beginners

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Free Checklist: How to Become a Font Designer

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Handstyle Lettering: From Calligraphy to Typography by Viction Workshop

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The Anatomy of Type: A Graphic Guide to 100 Typefaces by Stephen Coles

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Type. A Visual History of Typefaces & Graphic Styles by Cees W. de Jong, Alston W. Purvis, Jan Tholenaar

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Junk Type: Typography – Lettering – Badges – Logos by Bill Rose

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Typography Sketchbooks Paperback by Steven Heller and Talarico Lita

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The Typography Idea Book: Inspiration from 50 Masters (Type, Fonts, Graphic Design) by Steven Heller and Gail Anderson

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Type and Color: How to Design and Use Multicolored Typefaces (step-by-step guide to designing typefaces with multiple colors, essential new graphic design and typography book) by Mark van Wageningen

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Bestseller Graphic Design Authors

Certainly, there are authors that distinguish among the others and whose books have already become some sort of graphic design bibles. So who are those authors whom you should know? Here are the top 10 modern graphic design bestseller authors.

Cath Caldwell
1
Cath Caldwell
Books: Graphic Design For Everyone: Understand the Building Blocks so You can Do It Yourself; Winning Portfolios for Graphic Designers
11
Renee Stevens
2
Renee Stevens
Books: Powered by Design: An Introduction to Problem Solving with Graphic Design
10
Aaron James Draplin
3
Aaron James Draplin
Books: Draplin Design Co.: Pretty Much Everything
9
Theo Inglis
Theo Inglis
Books: Mid-Century Modern Graphic Design
8
Josef Muller-Brockmann
Josef Muller-Brockmann
Books: Grid Systems in Graphic Design: A Visual Communication Manual for Graphic Designers, Typographers and Three Dimensional Designers; The Graphic Artist and His Design Problems
7
Ellen Lupton
Ellen Lupton
Books: Graphic Design: The New Basics: Second Edition, Revised and Expanded; Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students; The Senses: Design Beyond Vision
6
Sophie Cure
Sophie Cure
Books: Graphic Design Play Book: An Exploration of Visual Thinking (Logo, Typography, Website, Poster, Web, and Creative Design)
6
Michael Bierut
Michael Bierut
Books: How to; Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design; Looking Closer 4: Critical Writings on Graphic Design
5
Jens Muller
Jens Muller
Books: The History of Graphic Design. Vol. 1, 1890u20131959; The History of Graphic Design. Vol. 2, 1960u2013Today; Logo Modernism
4
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Wrapping Up

Graphic designer is indeed a super exciting profession. At the same time, it requires constant work on your skills as well as studying the fundamental theory and new trends. Certainly, a good graphic design book is perhaps the best way to both learn the basic theory and latest trends, which means that at least a couple of the books we mentioned in this article will be particularly useful for you. So go ahead and get some books that will help you grow as a professional.

Graphic Design Books FAQ

📕 What books would be useful for beginners?

Beginners might be particularly interested in the following books: Free eBook: Everything Is In The Fonts – A Book For Beginners, Learning Web Design: A Beginner’s Guide to HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Web Graphics by Jennifer Robbins, UX for Beginners: A Crash Course in 100 Short Lessons by Joel Marsh, and Graphic Design For Everyone: Understand the Building Blocks so You can Do It Yourself by Cath Caldwell.

📗 Why books are better than free YouTube videos?

Pretty often those people who create various YouTube tutorials and guides are authors of graphic design books. That means that it’s beneficial for them not to reveal everything in their videos that are available for free. Thus, the most valuable information is always in the books.

📘 Where can I find books at affordable prices?

I would recommend Amazon. Apart from that, you can use various discount services such as Groupon.

📙 How can I read books for free?

You can also read books for free, all you have to do is to join your local library.

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Article Sources

While working on this article, I came across lots of articles, books, and YouTube videos that inspired me as well as provided me with up-to-date information about the field of graphic and web design. Thus, this article was written on the basis of the following resources:

  1. BInglis, Theo. Mid-Century Modern Graphic Design. Batsford, 2019.
  2. Janda Janda, Michael. Burn Your Portfolio: Stuff They Don’t Teach You in Design School, But Should. New Riders, 2013.
  3. Müller, Jens. The History of Graphic Design. Vol. 1, 1890–1959. TASCHEN, 2018.
  4. Stevens, Renée. Powered by Design: An Introduction to Problem Solving with Graphic Design. Rocky Nook, 2020.
Author: Rita Asta

Rita Asta is a freelance writer who is interested in modern technology, web design, history of design, and popular culture. Linkedin

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