Recommended Books

You can find out just about anything about Graphic Design online, but sometimes it’s nicer to read a good book on the subject. Over the last ten years or so, I have built up quite a collection of design books, and here I recommend some of the better ones.

Blog article by James Newcombe. Originally posted 21 April 2011.

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The Art of Looking Sideways

the front cover of The Art of Looking Sideways by Alan Fletcher

Alan Fletcher
Phaidon
The Art of Looking Sideways
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Sadly no longer with us, Alan Fletcher (1931–2006) was one of Britain’s most prolific graphic designers. A founder member of Pentagram, Fletcher’s clients included Reuters, Olivetti, Penguin Books and Pirelli. I’m particularly a fan of the identity for the Victoria and Albert Museum which is just a brilliant, timeless piece of work.

18 years in the making and over 500 pages long, The Art of Looking Sideways is a visual treat. Fletcher gathered a vast collection of imagery, anecdotes, quotations and weird facts, and put it into print. The perfect book to get you thinking creatively and well worthy of sitting at the top of this list.

Symbol

the front cover of Symbol by Angus Hyland and Steven Bateman

Angus Hyland & Steven Bateman
Laurence King Publishing
Symbol
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I was first drawn to Symbol by its wonderfully understated cover. Luckily, the content is superb as well, with over 1,300 classic and contemporary symbols, organised into logical categories and sub‐groups — perfect for inspiration and research purposes. Dotted throughout are more in‐depth case studies of well‐known marks and their origins. The work in here is well chosen and clearly presented with a great grid. If you have any interest in logo or symbol design, I recommend picking this one up.

LosLogos

the front cover of Los Logos by Buro Destruct

Buro Destruct
Di Gestalten Verlag, Berlin
Los Logos: Logo‐Collection
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Almost ten years ago, young designers from all over the world were invited to submit their logo designs to this project, which set out to show new trends in this field. The resulting book showcases over 3,000 logos and is great to dip into for inspiration for your identity projects. LosLogos has spawned three sequels to‐date, which is testament to the quality of this original.

Basics Design Series

the front cover of Grids by Gavin Ambrose and Paul Harris

Gavin Ambrose & Paul Harris
AVA
Basics Design 07: Grids
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There are several volumes in this series of books from Gavin Ambrose (Central St. Martins) and Paul Harris (London College of Printing) covering Format, Colour, Grids, Layout, Typography and Print Finishing. The books are literally packed with excellent examples and explanations as to why elements work so well. There’s also a series on Photography (by different authors) from which I have a really informative book on Composition. It’s certainly worth picking up a couple of these.

book stack

A Type Primer

the front cover of A Type Primer by John Kane

John Kane
Laurence King Publishing
A Type Primer
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Typography can be a difficult subject to come to grips with, but with this excellent little book, you’ll get there. It touches on measurement, classification, layout and includes useful exercises throughout to help this knowledge stay with you. Highly recommended.

Grid Systems in Graphic Design

the front cover of Grid Systems in Graphic Design by Josef Muller-Brockmann

Josef Müller-Brockmann
Niggli
Grid Systems in Graphic Design: A visual communication manual for graphic designers, typographers and three dimensional designers
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Originally written by Josef Müller–Brockmann (1914–1996) in 1961, this book has become an essential tool for designers. The grid is one of the most important (and least understood) elements of graphic design, and the concepts explained here can be applied to print, web, spacial and even photography projects.

The Complete Guide to Digital Graphic Design

the front cover of The Complete Guide to Digital Graphic Design by Bob Gordon

Bob Gordon
Thames & Hudson
The Complete Guide to Digital Graphic Design
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When I was starting out, I found the technical side of design almost as interesting as the creative side. I looked at pieces of artwork and questioned myself. How did they achieve that effect? How come the logo is reproduced so sharply? This book really helped to provide answers.