My Design Books bookshelf
I love to read. And I love graphic design. So this week I wanted to sort of combine the “must-read” graphic design book list with the YouTube trend of bookshelf tours. The books on my design bookshelf cover my favorite design disciplines, ranging from some of my college design class textbooks to movie making to handlettering. The books also range from reference books to inspirational books. I also have a seemingly ever-growing Amazon Wish List of books that I want to read. So many books, so little time. Side Note: While I do enjoy and recommend reading design books, they aren't the only books that can inspire you. Don't limit yourself when it comes to choosing your reading material.
Let’s start with my graphic design specific books.
These books I got for classes and for the most part never really used them in class, go figure. Though I am glad I kept them because I ended up using the Munsell Color book more for my color theory post than I ever did in color theory class. Haha!
Designing Brand Identity by Alina Wheeler
Architecture: Form, Space, and Order by Francis D.K. Ching
The New Munsell Student Color Set by James Thomas Long
A deep look at one of the color identification systems, but also a very good general color theory foundation. Goes into how the eye sees and process color and all the different principles within color theory
Digital Foundations: Intro to Media Design with the Adobe Creative Suite by Xtine Burrough & Michael Mandiberg
A little outdated now since they now have Creative Cloud and a ton of new tools :) but some good exercises to get you started
General Design Reference Books
Graphic Design Cookbook
A helpful book if you work with layouts a lot, has lots of ideas for different graphic components to use and how to integrate them into the composition
Quick Solutions to Great Layouts by Graham Davis
Another layout inspiration book
Color Inspirations by Darius A. Monsef, IV
A book of color combinations...enough said :)
Design Basics Index by Jim Krause
A a good guide for beginning designers covering the three C’s of design: composition, components, and concept. It talks about theory and principles as well as having tons of exercises you can do along the way.
Color Index, Layout Index, Type Idea Index by Jim Krause
A set of books that are good inspiration for color, layout, and type.
Design Books Meant for an Afternoon of Reading
Just My Type: A book about fonts by Simon Garfield
It’s subtitle says it all. A look at where different fonts come from and some fun facts about them
How to think like a Graphic Designer by Debbie Millman
A collection of interviews with different designers about how they think about design and their motivations. An interesting glimpse into the minds of some great designers.
In Progress: See Inside a Lettering Artist’s Sketchbook and Process from Pencil to Vector by Jessica Hische
Love this book so far! Still reading it, but she talks about her journey to lettering and gives a peek behind the scenes of many of her lettering projects
Hand-lettering Ledger by Mary Kate McDevitt
Breaks down how to hand letter and has pages to practice at the end of each chapter
The Project Lettering Book by Robert Ainsworth
Good inspiration for ways to reflect the meaning of the word in how it is written
The Art of Creative Lettering by Becky Higgins
More focused on scrapbooking, but good inspiration for lettering styles and patterns
The Making of Avatar by Jody Duncan and Lisa Fitzpatrick
I sat down and read this whole book the day I got it. I really love seeing behind the scenes of movie making. Reading about Avatar was especially interesting because I got to understand the technology that James Cameron used to make the movie.
James Cameron’s Titanic
Similar to The Making of Avatar, it gives you a look behind the scenes of the making of Titanic.
The Art of Walt Disney: From Mickey Mouse to the Magic Kingdom and Beyond by Christopher Finch
A giant(!!) book all about Walt Disney.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by Perry Moore
Another behind the scenes book about the making of the first Chronicles of Narnia movie
The Art of Up by Tim Hauser
I love Pixar movies so getting a peek behind the scenes of the process of how Pixar made their movies is fascinating. Up is my favorite Pixar movie and in the book the animation team discusses everything from coming up with the story idea to storyboarding to the animation process and the issues that they ran into along the way.
The Art of Frozen by Charles Solomon
A look at the making of the Disney movie, Frozen. One of the most interesting issues that they had to deal with is one that you may not think about when watching the movie. They had to figure out how to make sure that Olaf stood out against the snow background as they were looking for Elsa. I love seeing the amount of research and thought that gets put into the story process.
The Art of Film Magic: 20 Years of Weta book duo with Weta Digital: 20 Years of Imagination on Screen & Weta Workshop: Celebrating 20 Years of Creativity
These two books dive into the history of Weta Workshop and Weta Digital, the two main arms of the Weta company. Weta Workshop is well known for their work designing and building creatures, costumes, and a range of prop creations for films. Weta Digital does all the digital effects work for movies like Lord of the Rings, Avatar, X-Men, Avengers, The Hobbit trilogy and many more.
Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes by Walt Stanchfield
The first of a two-volume collection of the lectures given by Disney animator Walt Stanchfield did for the Disney Animation studio in the 70s and 80s. His lectures and classes helped inspire the animators that would go on to make all the classic Disney movies.
Creativity & Inspiration
Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull (President of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation...no big deal)
Another Pixar book, but it is a look at the history of the Pixar company, a more general look at the creative process they go through for their movies, and how to build a creative culture.
Listomania: A World of Fascinating Facts in Graphic Detail
A cool book of illustrated infographics that can be good inspiration.
Tinspiration: The Art & Inspiration of the Fossil Tin
A book put out by Fossil that gives you a glimpse at a bunch of their different watch tin designs that have designed over the years.
Steal like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon
The next three books are all by Austin Kleon and are great reads for anyone in a creative field. He writes them in his unique style and they are so great.
Show Your Work: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon
Steal Like an Artist Journal: A Notebook for Creative Kleptomaniacs by Austin Kleon
A fun journal of prompts to get your creative juices flowing
Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes
Up until recently, the only Shonda Rhimes show I wasn’t watching was Scandal, but I have now watched all the seasons on Netflix and am eagerly awaiting the newest season to be added. This book is probably my favorite book that I have read recently. It is super inspiring and encouraging so I very highly recommend it.
A few of the books waiting on my Amazon Wish List.
How to Use Graphic Design to Sell Things, Explain Things, Make Things Look Better, Make People Laugh, Make People Cry, and (Every Once in Awhile) Change the World by Michael Bierut
The Art of [insert Disney/Pixar movie title here] *I want them all :)
Funny!: Twenty-Five Years of Laughter from the Pixar Story Room by Jason Katz & John Lasseter
Saul Bass: Anatomy of Film Design by Jan-Christopher Horak
Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman