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Top 10 Best Design Books to Kickstart Your Career

Top 10 Best Design Books to Kickstart Your Career

Why do we need design books? You may wonder why design books matter so much for your career. After all, they are only for designers, right? Design books are for everyone. They offer you the chance to learn about design principles, explore creative ideas, and even get inspired to learn more about your industry.

Whether a seasoned pro or a rookie, you'll find a wealth of knowledge and inspiration in these books. You'll learn from the best, from the basics to more advanced topics.

Whether you're interested in design, animation, illustration, writing, photography, video or any other creative medium, this list of the top ten best design books will help you kickstart your career. These books cover everything from the history of design to tips and tricks for modern design to how to become a successful freelancer.

The list is divided into two categories – the top books for beginners and the top for advanced designers.

Best Design Books for Beginners

Top 10 Best Branding Books Of All Time

1 – Design: The Definitive Visual Guide

Design, Second Edition: The Definitive Visual Guide (DK Definitive Cultural Histories)
  • Hardcover Book
  • DK (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 480 Pages – 03/02/2021 (Publication Date) – DK (Publisher)

I'm a designer and often think about design when working on projects.

This book shows all the elements that make up good design and gives you a sense of what it's like to work in the design field. It's a great introduction to the design world and a valuable resource for those interested in learning more about it.

Some design terms can be tricky to define, and I found myself referring to this book to help me get my head around them.

Many designers out there would love this book, and it's a nice gift for anyone interested in the design field.

2 – The Non-Designer's Design Book

Non-Designer's Design Book, The
  • Williams, Robin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages – 11/19/2014 (Publication Date) – Peachpit Press (Publisher)

Many people are drawn to designing something meaningful, but not all have the skill or desire to do it.

The Non-Designer's Design Book is a step-by-step guide for anyone who wants to learn how to design but doesn't have the time or resources to hire a designer.

The book teaches the four basic design principles – organisation, simplicity, balance, and unity – through short, easy-to-follow lessons.

You'll get lots of real-world examples, from logos to websites to books, to show you what good design looks like.

Robin uses her humorous writing style to explain concepts that would otherwise be difficult to grasp, such as “the five types of font” or the “nine ways to create a balanced design.”

For example, she explains that using white space (negative space) effectively is just as important as the colour and shape of a design and that a well-designed logo can tell a whole story without words.

She goes into great detail about colour theory and the best ways to use it to create impact.

She also shares her thoughts on typography and how you can use type.

And she explains how to choose the right fonts, whether serif or sans-serif and how to use type for branding and design.

Robin also provides plenty of exercises to help you practice your design skills.

There are 20+ projects in the book, including an exercise to help you determine what kind of logo you'd like.

Each project contains everything you need to create, including detailed instructions, templates, and finished product examples.

The projects range from small to large and from personal to corporate.

The projects are broken down into chapters according to the topics covered, and each chapter contains the same projects to give you a clear progression.

In addition, there are quizzes at the end of each chapter to test your understanding of the topic and a summary of the chapters at the end of the book.

The book is an excellent resource for anyone interested in learning more about design, whether you want to be a designer or are already one.

3 – The History of Graphic Design.

The History of Graphic Design: 1890-1959 (1)
  • Hardcover Book
  • M�ller, Jens (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 480 Pages – 01/18/2018 (Publication Date) – Taschen America Llc (Publisher)

This is an excellent book for anyone who loves graphic design.

From the beginning, graphic design was about creating images to convey a message. Over the years, this message evolved into something that could be used to communicate almost anything, from politics and religion to science and technology.

You can learn all about it in this book.

We have all seen advertisements that use the latest technology to sell us the latest gadget, but what about the more traditional advertisements? Well, there are some fascinating examples in this book.

There are so many stories in this book. So many people from all different backgrounds have made a significant impact on the world of graphic design.

You will love the next book in this series if you like this.

4 – The History of Graphic Design. Vol. 2.

The History of Graphic Design 1960-Today (2)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Multilingual (Publication Language)
  • 480 Pages – 10/02/2018 (Publication Date) – Taschen America Llc (Publisher)

As an in-depth history of graphic design, this book is very informative and exciting and will surely interest anyone interested in the topic.

The second volume of this series is a great companion to the first, which was about the history of graphic design from 1960 to today. It includes some of the most iconic examples of graphic design from that time and gives a thorough insight into the history of graphic design, from the creation of the first logo to the birth of the digital age.

The second volume begins in the 1960s and continues with the 70s, 80s and 90s. It looks at the rise of the international style, how it influenced designers, and how we design.

I'm thrilled that it contains a wide range of designs from around the world and includes all of the most important logos of the time.

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The book also contains the best-known works of some influential graphic designers, such as Massimo Vignelli, Otl Aicher, Neville Brody, Kashiwa Sato, Paula Scher and Stefan Sagmeister. It's a must-have for anyone interested in graphic design.

This is an essential read for anyone interested in the topic.

5 – Graphic Design: The New Basics

Graphic Design: The New Basics
  • Lupton, Ellen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 264 Pages – 07/14/2015 (Publication Date) – Princeton Architectural Press (Publisher)

This is the second edition of Graphic Design: The New Basics, and it's been revised and expanded since the first edition was published back in 2015.

This is an excellent introduction to graphic design for beginners, and it covers the basics of colour theory, typography, and design fundamentals.

It's written in a friendly, casual manner that makes it easy to follow and uses lots of visual examples to demonstrate how each concept works. There are a few pages where you'll find some extra information on typography and some interesting tidbits about how the graphic design industry has changed in recent years.

The book is very well organised and starts by explaining the concepts of colour theory, typography, and design fundamentals. Each chapter is devoted to a different area of graphic design and then provides a short introduction on how each topic fits into the overall design process.

Each chapter is self-contained and can be read independently, but you can dip into the book for more in-depth information on any topic. There's also a brief list of suggested readings at the end of each chapter that you can refer to for more information.

As a result, this is a great book for anyone who wants to learn more about graphic design. It's a quick, easy read with plenty of valuable tips and tricks to help you along the way.

The book is also affordable, so you can pick it up from Amazon if you want a copy.

Best Design Books for Experts

Best Design Books For Beginners

6 – How Design Makes Us Think: And Feel and Do Things

How Design Makes Us Think HC: And Feel and Do Things
  • Hardcover Book
  • Adams, Sean (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages – 02/23/2021 (Publication Date) – Princeton Architectural Press (Publisher)

As someone who loves psychology, I love this book because it offers a way to understand how design can make us feel.

Graphic designers often focus on making things look good, but Adams shows us that design can also affect our emotions and behaviours. He details why design can be so powerful, from how we interact with objects and places to how we perceive others. He also discusses the role of context and culture in creating meaning.

Adams clarifies that designing with intent is essential and covers many ways we're influenced by design.

This is a great read if you're interested in learning more about how design can affect us.

7 – Why Design Matters

Why Design Matters: Conversations with the World's Most Creative People
  • Hardcover Book
  • Millman, Debbie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 368 Pages – 02/22/2022 (Publication Date) – Harper (Publisher)

When you think of the word “legend,” you probably think of someone who has made a significant impact in their field. Someone who has changed the way we view things. The way we think.

However, what about the person who has done this but whose legacy is not so well-known?

These are the people that Debbie Millman explores in this collection of her best interviews. These people have made a significant change but have yet to be recognised as such.

Millman has done a great job here. She brings together the stories of a wide range of people. Some of these people have had massive success in their field, and some of them haven't. Some of these people have yet to succeed, and some have been hugely successful.

It's fascinating to see how these different people, all of whom have made significant changes in their field, deal with success or failure.

This book is excellent for anyone who wants to learn more about the people who have changed the world.

8 – Thinking with Type

Thinking with Type, 2nd revised ed.: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students
  • Lupton, Ellen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages – 11/03/2010 (Publication Date) – Princeton Architectural Press (Publisher)

I've always liked thinking about type, and this book takes it to another level. The author explains why certain letters, fonts, and styles best suit specific tasks. She has a real knack for making her points clear and concise.

While it may seem like much information in this book, it's easy to follow. It's well-organised, and plenty of examples and illustrations help you understand.

The author is also very knowledgeable and can relate all the information to any project. Even if you're not working in graphic design, this book will give you a good understanding of typography and the tools and techniques used to create it.

You may have heard of Thinking with Type before, but this new edition will help you learn even more. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to become a better designer.

9 – How to (Revised and Expanded Edition)

How to Revised and Expanded Edition
  • Hardcover Book
  • Bierut, Michael (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages – 09/07/2021 (Publication Date) – Harper (Publisher)

This book is a must-have for any aspiring graphic designer.

The first thing that grabbed my attention was the title, which I'm a sucker for. I love the way it's written. It's straightforward, and it's got a lot of personality.

Then I realised how much it could help me learn.

Michael Bierut is a legendary designer who's worked on some fantastic projects, and I'm glad he put together a comprehensive guide for anyone looking to get into the field.

With so many different projects, there are many different skills and techniques to learn.

And I'm sure there are many things I don't know.

But I'm pleased that I picked this book up. It gave me confidence, and I'm excited to start taking steps towards becoming a better designer.

I highly recommend it to anyone interested in graphic design.

10 – Design Is Storytelling

Design Is Storytelling
  • Lupton, Ellen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 159 Pages – 11/21/2017 (Publication Date) – Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum (Publisher)

Consider this book if you're interested in creating a better product.

The book is divided into three parts:

1) The first part is about why design matters. Ellen Lupton explains why we should care about design and how it influences us. She gives examples of how we are designed into many things, including our work, body, and home. She also discusses the psychology of design.

2) The second part is about how we design. This part introduces us to the main design concepts and shows how to use them. She covers design methods and graphic and typographic elements and provides many examples of applying these concepts.

3) The third part is about how we communicate. She discusses communication techniques, including voice, tone and style, in this part. She also explains the role of emotions in design and how to use emotion to guide our work.

I enjoyed this book as I learned about design and its psychology.

Wrapping Up

Check out these books if you're an aspiring designer or want to sharpen your skills. I've handpicked 10 of the best to help you get started.

I'm sure you've heard people say, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but I'm here to tell you that a book is worth a thousand pictures.

These are all great resources to help you improve your design skills. They're not only a great way to learn new techniques, but they also provide a wealth of inspiration for future projects.

Whether you're a beginner or looking to up your game, these books are for you.

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Last update on 2024-04-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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