To create successful work that's designed to be seen, you need to understand how people see things. That's where Ways of Seeing comes in. Written by art critic and painter John Burger and based on a BBC TV series, this bestseller explores the way we view art.
Designer Greg Burnbary says the book was responsible for a "pivotal shift" in his design studies. "I began to understand composition and context in every ad I saw," he says. "I recognised the inherent tension that advertising creates, and how to replicate it. But most importantly, it made me want to create meaningful communications: images worth seeing."
Visual communication rests on the power of semiotics, a concept that David Crow examines in expert detail in this seminal book. Dealing with the principles of written communication and its relationship to imagery, and rounded off with an examination of audience understanding, this is a valuable assessment of academic yet essential design theory.
Austria-born, New York-based designer Stefan Sagmeister is one of the creative world's best-known and influential figures. His monograph, first published in 2008, revolves around 21 thought-provoking phrases, transformed into typographic works for various clients around the world and has been since updated. Noted designer Steven Heller, art critic and curator Nancy Spector and psychologist and Happiness: The Science Behind Your Smile author Daniel Nettle contribute essays to the book. His second text 'made you look' spans 20 years of his graphic design in depth. The two complement each other perfectly.
French illustrator Malika Favre is very much a graphic designer's illustrator. In her own words, her work is underpinned by "grids and geometric structures as a backbone for each composition". So this is a great book for illustrators, but also one of the best graphic design books.
This large-format book showcases work from across her career. Divided into some of her most oft-used themes, such as women, it features some stunning New Yorker covers and erotica, including her Kama Sutra-based alphabet.
Monographs can be disappointing. While you hope for a recontextualisation of the author's work, often what you get is more of a elevated portfolio. However, Pentagram partner Michael Gericke’s Graphic Life is a refreshing exception. Pentagram's second longest-service partner's 519-page monograph is filled with huge photography, offering an almost architectural experience, but he also reveals the threads that cannoect the places, stories, and symbols in his work.
I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.
Neville Brody was president of D&AD and head of Research Studios' global studio network. But it was arguably his 1980s heyday that had the biggest impact on contemporary graphic design. First published in 1988, this book explores the thought process behind some of his best-known work, including his genre-defining art direction of The Face magazine.
This is a small book, but don't judge it by its size: this may be the most useful book you can own as a designer – if you can find a copy because it's hard to come by now. It offers advice on everything from light, colour and perspective to law and marketing in succinct, beautifully formed prose. With eight chapters covering Design, Typography, Digital Media, Social Media, Production, Marketing, Law, and Organisation, the book also includes definitions of unique vocabulary, written for a global audience. It’s the kind of book that you never stop reading once you start; and the kind you’ll always refer back to later.
Alan Fletcher, the co-founder of Pentagram, penned various thought-provoking tomes during his graphic design career, but The Art of Looking Sideways is the best known. It questions the way designers think about everything from colour to composition. Throughout its 75 chapters, you get anecdotes, quotations, images, curious facts and useless information, oddities, serious science, jokes and memories, all concerned with the interplay between the verbal and the visual, and the limitless resources of the human mind.
Once you've digested this seminal text, you might also want to give 'picture of poeting a try. That title explores the link between imagery and meaning through a series of visual mind-teasers, games and visual puns, assembled from his personal notebooks and diaries.
Even the most talented designers won't get anywhere if no one sees their work. From the author of the bestselling' steal like an artist' this book show you how to solve that question, by reaching your audience and building a name for yourself.
"Show Your Work! helped me start posting work on social media, allowing for feedback, and moving on to the next project."
Type choice isn't random, but there are so many fonts to choose from, where do start? If you're finding it a challenge, this book by graphic designer and typographer Sarah Hyndman can help. It explores the science behind font design, and uncovers why different styles provoke different reactions in people. Apparently, fonts have the power to alter the taste of your food. As you might guess, you won't find these kinds of insights elsewhere!