Book List: On graphic design, business side


Being new to graphic design, not only in trade but also in the business, at times I feel lost. And lonely. People in my network are mostly supportive of my career change venture; however, little of them are from the creative business side. In short, I feel that I got no one to talk to about the challenges, struggles and ups & downs of being a graphic designer.

Fortunately, there is no lack of generous folks out there in the graphic design world who willingly share their experiences. Some of their wisdom is transferred in form of books. Here are some examples I recently come across:

book list

A few of the good books on Graphic Design

  1. How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer Debbie Millman: Don’t be fooled by the tame book title and dull cover design. This book is a precious gem containing personal interviews by Millman of designers including Milton Graser, Paula Scher, Stefan Sagmeister, and Massimo Vignelli. Contrary to its title, it is by no means a “how-to” kinda self-help book. Rather, I find most of the interviews honest and humbling. (I say “most” because I haven’t read all of the interviews.) I was greatly aspired by the great graphic designers’ experiences, particularly by their passion and in some cases their mission in what they do. (The link points you to Google Book IT’S FREE!)
  2. How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul Adrian Shaughnessy: I’ve to admit, at first I shy away from this book for reasons I cannot recall. Maybe it was the “losing your soul” part that turns me off. But I’m glad I picked it up ‘cos I can’t stop reading it. The author Adrian was a co-founder of London design firm Intro and its creative director for fifteen years. From the beginning to the end, the good and the bad, pretty and ugly of the graphic design industry, Adrian has seen it all. I love his British humor and brutal honesty, esp. of bad things that has happened to him as a graphic designer. I picked up a few pointers from the book but I appreciate more the sharing aspect, as if I was picking Adrian’s brain. It’s like having a mentor who’s also funny and speaks with a British accent. It’s great.
  3. Start & Run A Graphic Design Business Michael Huggins: Again, try not to judge the book by its cover. (hee hee) The book is surprisingly current (published in 2009). Compared to the previous two books, this one is more of a “how-to” book. It comes with a CD with lots of goodies (which I haven’t utilized yet). I’m only starting to read it and I’m already sold by the author’s intro: “Don’t get scared away from pursuing your heart’s desire just because of a few things you may not know right now. You see, you have something I didn’t—another graphic designer who has been where you are and is ready to help you. That’s really what this book is all about.” Awww! He’s speaking to me!!!
  4. Penguin 75 Designers, Authors, Commentary (the good, the bad…) Paul Buckley: This book isn’t about the graphic design business per se. It’s included on this list because it contains 75 beautiful Penguin book covers and the design stories behind them. Each cover is accompanied by comments from the author, designer and sometimes the vice president Creative Director at Penguin Paul Buckley. I particularly like the comparisons between the “proposed covers” and the actual/final ones to see how similar/different they are. Even the best designers revise their designs based on the clients’ feedback. There is a knowing laughter when a designer writes “…and the comps meet the recycling bin”. I know how that feels, haha!

By no means these are the only books/resources available out there. I hope by sharing, some helpless novice graphic designers like me would find the list useful. 🙂


One Response to “Book List: On graphic design, business side”

  1. Aw, this was an extremely good post. Spending some time and actual effort to make a superb
    article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a lot and
    don’t seem to get nearly anything done.

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