10 Must-Have Graphic Design Books Every Designer Should Read

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Graphic design is a mix of talent and skill, and mastering it starts right here with our list of the top 10 must-read books for graphic designers! Each one is a starting point to learn the essentials of great design, from typography to branding and everything in between. Enjoy the journey and the huge impact these books will have on your work!

Looking at our collection at Indieground’s studio we realised how much we love our books and how valuable they have been along the way. Here are the most essential, useful, and inspiring titles for starting your career in graphic design—the ones we believe every graphic designer should have on their shelf. We hope you’ll find some that will really help you in your journey in graphic design!

Not only are these books outstanding works of graphic design, they are also packed with insights, techniques, and inspiration to get you move forward in your career as a designer or to find an interesting perspective on important topics. Each book is packed with foundational knowledge that will be hugely useful in your work.

Our selection of Must-Have Graphic Design Books

This collection is a balanced mix of classic manuals and resources that have shaped the fundamentals of the field. We have also included contemporary guides that explore current trends and evolving concepts of graphic design today. These books not only offer wisdom and proven techniques but also provide fresh perspectives and innovative approaches.. enjoy!

grid system 10 books on graphic design

Grid Systems in Graphic Design by Josef Mulller-Brockmann

Josef Müller-Brockmann’s Grid Systems in Graphic Design remains a seminal work in the field, a must-read for any designer seeking to master the art of structured layout and composition. Among graphic design books, it is renowned for its precision and clarity, and because it offers a comprehensive look into the grid system as an essential tool for graphic design. Müller-Brockmann meticulously breaks down the grid, demonstrating its application in various design projects. His approach not only enhances the aesthetic quality but also ensures functional and logical structuring of information. With its rich visual examples and insightful commentary, this book is an invaluable resource for understanding how disciplined grid-based design can lead to visually compelling and balanced graphic work.

essential graphic design books - how to be a graphic designer

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

Adrian Shaughnessy’s How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul offers a refreshing and insightful perspective into the graphic design profession. This book serves as an invaluable guide for navigating the creative, yet often challenging world of design. Shaughnessy addresses the practical aspects of a graphic design career—covering topics from finding clients to dealing with deadlines—while also talking about the ethical and philosophical questions that confront designers in their work. This graphic design book is filled with practical advice, infused with Shaughnessy’s personal experiences and observations, making it not just a guide but a mentor in print form. It’s an essential read for designers aspiring to balance creativity with commercial realities, and maintain their passion and integrity in a demanding industry. The book stands out for its honest and human-centric approach to a career in graphic design.

must-have graphic design books

How to use graphic design: to sell things, explain things, make things look better by Michael Bierut

Michael Bierut’s book, How to Use Graphic Design to Sell Things, Explain Things, Make Things Look Better, is an exploration of the power and versatility of graphic design. In this engaging and insightful work, Bierut, a celebrated design critic, shares his extensive experience and knowledge in the field. The book showcases a wide range of projects, demonstrating how graphic design can be harnessed to achieve various objectives – from selling products to conveying complex information, and from enhancing aesthetics to evoking emotional responses. Bierut’s approachable writing style, combined with case studies and personal anecdotes, provides readers with a deep understanding of the strategic role of design in shaping perceptions and experiences. Among the best graphic design books, this manual is not only a practical guide for designers but also a thought-provoking read that highlights the profound impact of graphic design in the modern world.

Joseph albers interaction of color

Interaction of Color by Josef Albers

Josef Albers’ groundbreaking work, Interaction of Color, is a foundational text in the study and application of color theory. This influential book goes deep into the complex nature of color perception and its relational effects. Albers, who was a Bauhaus artist and professor, with his innovative approach and experiments, demonstrates that color is not a static entity but is perceived differently depending on its context and juxtaposition with other colors. His insightful analysis and exercises guide readers through a series of visual experiences, revealing the mutable and often surprising nature of color. This book is a visual journey that challenges and inspires artists, designers, and anyone interested in understanding the dynamic interactions of color. Albers’ work encourages a deeper appreciation and thoughtful application of color, making Interaction of Color one of the best graphic design books ever written.

10 must-have graphic design books

Logo Modernism, Jens Muller & R. Roger Remington

Jens Müller and R. Roger Remington’s Logo Modernism is a visually stunning and intellectually engaging exploration of modernist aesthetics in the realm of logo design. This expansive book is packed with iconic logos, showcasing the simplicity, functionality, and timelessness of modernist design principles. The authors meticulously categorize and analyze over 6,000 logos, providing a comprehensive overview of the development of corporate identity and brand representation from the 1940s to the 1980s. Logo Modernism serves as a rich source of inspiration for designers while offering a fascinating historical perspective on how logos reflect the cultural and technological shifts of their time. The book’s detailed illustrations and insightful commentary make it an essential reference for understanding the impact and evolution of logo design in the modern era.

best books on graphic design

Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton

Ellen Lupton’s Thinking with Type is a definitive guide in the field of typography, essential for anyone who arranges words on a page. This book demystifies the practice of typography, making it accessible and engaging for both newcomers and seasoned professionals. Lupton explores the art and science of type in an engaging and readable style, covering everything from the history of typefaces to practical tips on digital typesetting, making it one of the best graphic design books on typography out there. The book’s rich content includes insightful discussions on choosing the right type for the right project, the intricacies of kerning and leading, and the ever-evolving landscape of digital typography. Thinking with Type is an insightful discussion on the power of type in visual communication, offering a deeper understanding of how to use type effectively and creatively in various contexts.

10 essential graphic design books

Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon

In Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon presents a compelling case for the interconnected nature of creativity, urging readers to embrace the art of learning from others. This book is a manifesto that dismantles the conventional notion of originality, showing how all creative work is influenced and inspired by existing ideas. Kleon’s engaging narrative is interspersed with practical tips, inspiring quotes, and his own illustrative sketches, making it a delightful and enlightening read. He encourages embracing influences, remixing ideas, and finding inspiration in the world around us. This book is a must-read for anyone in the creative field, offering an unexpected perspective on how to harness the power of influence to fuel original, authentic work.

best books on graphic design

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

The Know Your Onions series is a popular collection of books that serves as a practical guide for various creative disciplines. Renowned for its straightforward, no-nonsense approach, the series is designed to provide clear, concise, and practical advice to professionals in creative fields. Each book in the series is packed with real-world insights, focusing on practical skills and professional wisdom, making complex concepts easily accessible to readers. In Know Your Onions: Graphic Design, the series turns its focus to the world of graphic design. Drew de Soto, leveraging his extensive experience in the industry, offers an invaluable resource for designers at any level. Covering a wide range of topics, from typography and layout to client management and workflow, this book stands out as a comprehensive toolkit for anyone looking to make it in graphic design. 

best graphic design books

Just My Type, Simon Garfield

Simon Garfield’s Just My Type goes into an exceptional exploration of fonts and typography, uncovering the hidden narratives and personalities within the typefaces that populate the graphic design world. Garfield skillfully weaves together history, aesthetics, and culture to reveal how typography shapes our experiences and communications. This graphic design book is a journey through the evolution and significance of typography, engaging readers with the stories behind ubiquitous typefaces. Garfield’s exploration extends from historical letterforms to contemporary digital fonts, offering insights that resonate with both design aficionados and casual readers. This book especially helps to understand the importance of using each font in the right context, not just from a design standpoint but also with historical coherence.

must-have graphic design books

History of Graphic Design, Jens Müller e Julius Wiedemann

Jens Müller and Julius Wiedemann’s History of Graphic Design is a monumental work that chronicles the rich and diverse evolution of graphic design from its inception to the modern day. This comprehensive tome is meticulously researched and beautifully illustrated, offering readers a panoramic view of the field’s development across different eras and geographies. The authors skillfully navigate through various design movements, key figures, and seminal works, making complex historical trends and styles accessible and engaging. This book is not just a historical account; it’s an invaluable resource for understanding the context and influences that have shaped contemporary graphic design. History of Graphic Design is an essential read for students, professionals, and anyone interested in the visual culture and its perpetual transformation.

Did you enjoy our recommendations? Then have a look at how we applied the principles and skills we learned from these books to create our best-selling graphic design assets.

Thanks to those learnings, we created popular assets that are useful to graphic designer all over the world, like Torn Paper, Markers Kit, Newake Font and many more!

Indieground Design

Indieground Design

We are a team of designers, developers & photographers from Italy and we love to create striking graphic resources! Have a look around our website to discover more about what we do and the services we offer!

Indieground Design

Indieground Design

We are a team of designers, developers & photographers from Italy and we love to create striking graphic resources! Have a look around our website to discover more about what we do and the services we offer!

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