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5 Books Every Designer Must Read in 2020

Posted: June 16th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Book Reviews, Design | Tags: , , | No Comments »

The graphic design industry is rapidly evolving, with people now using graphic designs for a lot of purposes such as advertising, branding, and art. As a good graphic designer, you should seek to evolve with the current trends in the graphic design industry. To improve your craft, there are certain measures you can take, one of which is to properly study the standard and new graphic design concepts. One way to do this is to read quality books about graphic design.

These books will help you to brush up your old skills and even learn new ones. They could also be the answer to questions and difficulties you have as a graphic designer. Reading these books will go a long way in helping you to maintain brilliant, unmatched standards as a graphic designer. In this guide, you’ll find brief summaries about 5 essential books you must read as a graphic designer in 2020.

1. Branding: In Five and a Half Steps


Common brands and their basic components

Michael Johnson authored Branding: In Five and a Half Steps in 2016, and the book has remained one of the most popular graphic design books ever since then. He is one of the foremost graphic designers and also owns a graphic design studio named Johnson Banks. The studio has worked with clients such as Think London, Virgin Atlantic, and BFI, and has gained lots of awards ever since it was launched.

In this book, Michael Johnson completely uncovers the process of branding in graphic design and divides the process into five important steps. The steps include Investigation, Strategy & Narrative, Design, Implementation, and Engagement. The book is a complete step-by-step guide to branding and rebranding in graphic design. Michael Johnson in this book takes common brands and examines their basic components, explaining the connection between strategy and design. 

In the first half of the book, there is a six-question model which serves as the first part of the book. The first part identifies questions such as ‘what does the brand mean?” and other key questions. The second half examines and explains the process of branding and design. Michael Johnson uses a lot of brand identities from all over the world to explain how to create a successful brand as a graphic designer. This book also shows the importance of research and strategic thinking in creating a successful brand.  It also gives you a better understanding of how branding choices can influence how successful a brand can be with the different kinds of case studies that were discussed.  Johnson further reveals the most important elements involved in creating a successful brand, from the use of language to typography. All these make this book an essential resource for a graphic designer.

2. Signs and Symbols: Their Design and Meaning

Signs and Symbols:

Signs and symbols are an important aspect of graphics design 

Adrian Frutiger examines the relationship between symbols and psychology in this book, while also discussing the sign elements such as alphabets, pictograms, calligraphy, trademarks, and numerical signs. Signs and symbols are an important part of design and as a graphic designer, it is important to understand how to use them the right way. 

The book has chapters explaining basic signs such as the square, triangle, circle, arrow, and the cross sign. The next chapter explains how to join signs together, showing the relations between signs of the same form and signs of different forms.  The second half of the book is based on speech-fixing signs. The first chapter explains how to convert thoughts to pictures while readers also learn about prototypes, speech, and gesture. The subsequent chapters discuss topics such as Speech Fixing, The Graphic Wealth of Pictograms, The World’s Alphabets, The ABC of the Western World, and other relevant topics. This book is a great resource for graphic designers as it makes an in-depth explanation of signs and symbols. 

In the third and final part of the book, Adrian Frutiger explains symbols in detail, with topics such as How Pictures Become Symbol Signs, The Stages of Schematization, and The Different Types of Symbols.  The final part concludes with signal signs, their orientation, and pictograms. The whole book takes the reader through a journey of signs throughout history. For a designer seeking to understand the origins and usage of signs and symbols, then this book is a must-read. 

3.The Non-Designer’s Design book

Non-Designer’s Design book

There are fundamental principles to graphic design every designer must learn

This book about design written by Robin Williams explores the fundamental principles of graphic design. The author has written a lot of books on graphics design such as The Non-Designer’s Presentation Book, The Mac is Not a Typewriter, and The Non-designer’s InDesign Book. Robin Williams identifies four principles of design: Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity. The author explains her principle of contrast as “If two items are not exactly the same, then make them different. Really different.” 

The author further explains the principles of design in simple terms. In subsequent chapters, the author explains the concept of design with step-by-step examples. The book features topics such as Tips for Brand Designing, Underlying Principles of Design, Designing with Type, Designing with Color, and a Professional Approach to Design. Although many other graphic design books explore similar topics, this book is great for beginners and intermediate level designers as it is easy to understand.

She uses relatable and often hilarious examples together with quizzes to explain graphic design. In the second half of the book, the author explains Type. Readers can learn the basics of fonts, the different kinds, how to use and combine them. The book contains practical advice on how to make designs look professional, which is very useful for upcoming designers and non-designers.

There is a chapter that focuses on the fundamentals of typography, with quizzes and examples to help readers develop their design skills. Robin also explains the typeface choices such as thickness, colors, shapes, sizes, and space. This book makes learning graphic design easier as the author explains the concepts in a concise manner while accompanying the material with visuals and examples. 

4. A Smile in The Mind: Witty Thinking in Graphic Design

Graphic Design Books

Witty thinking improves the quality of your design

This design guide is a joint project created by four authors – Beryl McAlhone, David Stuart, Greg Quinton, and Nick Asbury. This book is a great sourcebook for designers. This edition is a revision of the first edition which was written by Beryl McAlhone and David Stuart. The new edition explains wit in graphic design with this new edition showcasing over 1,000 instances of humor and wit in graphic design and branding. It is a compilation of over 1,000 projects by more than 500 graphic designers. 

The authors feature a mixture of vintage and contemporary designs to show how witty thinking can be employed in graphic design. The authors also demonstrate different ways to create humor using means such as double-takes, substitution, and ambiguity. The chapter titled Types of Wit addresses this. In another chapter titled Wit in Practice, and Wit in the World, the authors explain how wit is used in graphics such as logos, memes, and in the media.

In the final chapter, readers can read about interviews with international designers and creative icons such as Saul Bass, Milton Glaser, and Alan Fletcher. These interviews help to get an idea of the thought behind classic designs and popular present-day graphics. Through this book, you can get the different routes you can take to incorporate wit into graphic design. The authors have included photographs, logos, and adverts which use these routes to serve as examples for readers. 

5.Why Fonts Matter

Font Books

Fonts can be useful in mirroring experiences or emotions 

Why Fonts Matter is a book which majors on fonts and how they influence decision making. The author, Sarah Hyndman is a graphic designer and a public speaker known for her works on the psychology of type.  In this book, Sarah Hyndman examines how font design and choice influence different reactions. For a graphic designer seeking to understand how to use type design to achieve their goal, this book serves as the perfect guide. 

According to the author, typeface can be used to mirror experiences or emotions displayed in the real world. The book also shows how fonts are more important than what many people think. Sarah Hyndman details the emotional reaction to fonts through experiments, multi-sensory interpretations, and a collection of reviews from a variety of designers and non-designers. Rather than focus only on how graphic designers interpret and use fonts, the book shows how the public views typefaces. Why Fonts Matter is easy to read and engaging, it will do a lot of good to graphic designers looking to improve their craft.


No matter how much the concepts of graphic design look complicated to you, it is possible to understand and apply these concepts by reading the right design books. There’s a large number of useful resources at your fingertips, part of which are the books we have recommended in this guide. The books above will help you view known and unknown design principles and concepts in a new light. With detailed process, analysis, and illustrations, they will help fine-tune your design skills, whether you’re an established designer or just learning the basics.

Are You Mastering Momentum?

Posted: October 18th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Articles, Book Reviews | No Comments »

Is it possible to create momentum AND use it to your advantage? I wasn’t sure you could but Steve Seibold shows how in his book, 177 Mental Toughness Secrets of the World Class.

In Steve Siebold’s fine book, 177 Mental Toughness Secrets of the World Class, he highlights in Mental Toughness Secret 83, The Value of Momentum.

Now “What does THAT mean?” you are probably asking.

Here’s what Steve has to say, “The great ones use momentum to fuel their passions and transfer their beliefs to others. The great ones know if the perception of momentum is present, confidence and power will continue to increase”

Further, “While average people stumble into momentum from time to time, world-class performers create this emotional thought process from scratch.”

“Momentum is a subjective emotional perception, and therefore manufactured in the mind. This artificial creation attract more momentum, until world-class performers are rolling forward like a locomotive”

Mr. Siebold recommends this action step:

“Keep repeating this; “I have massive momentum.” Find different ways to program yourself with this message until you begin to believe it. Use the power of language to talk yourself into an emotional statement of momentum toward your goals”

By programming your mind to allow momentum to happen you’ll soon be creating tides of good fortune in your life and business.

Get the book!

Are You Ready to Be Neurally Reconditioned?

Posted: June 28th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Book Reviews | No Comments »

Seems almost everyone has read (or heard of) the movie and book called “The Secret.” I have too. Some good stuff, although in my opinion it makes it seem like all you have to do is think positive thoughts and instantly genies will appear to grant your every wish.

It would be nice but . . . doesn’t really work that way.

Well, a recent book I read really takes the premise of “The Secret” and the Law of Attraction and really applies it beautifully in a book called – none other than, “The Answer” by John Assaraf (who appeared in the movie “The Secret”) and Murray Smith. Admittedly, I was a bit nervous in picking up this title as it just seemed a little “out there” for me. But I was surprisingly mistaken.

First, These two guys know their stuff. They are “in the trenches” entrepreneurs who have founded I think somewhere over 20 successful businesses. Some amazingly successful. So anyone with that track record is worth listening to.

Second, they combine aspects of law of attraction principles with hard and fast business principles. I have never really seen this before. They actually show you a process called “Neural Reconditioning” which really is a solid program to change non supportive/constructive beliefs you have about your business/yourself.

Other chapters include ideas on vision, focus, action, your ideal customer and innovation among others. Again these guys know their stuff.

I know from experience (I have founded over 5 businesses) that this can get sticky. But they have an amazing way to reveal business “blind spots” and also give simple but very effective exercises to assist you.

Finally, sprinkled throughout the book are real life case studies of some of their clients success stories which bring these ideas and strategies back to solid reality.

I don’t often get super excited about a business book but this one was for me. I highly recommend you order it today and start implementing the ideas immediately.

Learn More | View more design business books

by Doug Farrick

Guide to Winning at Web Marketing

Posted: July 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Book Reviews | No Comments »

This is a great book from Cyndie Shaffstall. I had a chance to check out the book and I have to say, it is loaded with some great information and will provide as a guide to your business Web marketing.

CreativePublic members and visitors get a 30% discount off the regular cover price.
Click here to order

Order your book before the end of July and get 40% off!

Tintbook – CMYK Preview on Paper

Posted: January 27th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Book Reviews | No Comments »

Found this book online called Tintbook. This looks like a really good book to have around to check how your actual cmyk mixed colors will print out from an actual print press on paper.


Check out Tintbook!

Designer’s Survival Guide

Posted: July 27th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: | No Comments »

Just a quick blurb about a book I recently checked out. The “Designer’s Survival Guide” is a really good read, what I liked most about this book was its collaberation between several creative professionals, so you get a good amount of content based on their experinces. I would highly recommend this ebook and am sure my site readers would enjoy it as well.

The book contains lots of useful content such as:

– Writing Press Releases
– SEO TIps
– Web Design and Development Tips
– Color Calibration
– Package Design
– Logo Design Process
– Transitioning Into Your Own Business
– and so much more.

Learn more by visiting:

Why “Right Brainers” Will Rule The Future

Posted: March 27th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Book Reviews | No Comments »

by Doug Farrick

This week I wanted to bring to your attention a terrific book by Daniel H. Pink called A Whole New Mind” with a subtitle of “Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future”

The books basic premise is that the future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind.

Focus will move away from computer programmers, MBA number crunchers, lawyers, etc. and shift to creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers.

The era of “left brain” dominance is now giving way to new “right brain” people like artists, designers, inventors, gamers, storytellers, caregivers, and big picture thinkers. These folks will soon become the most sought after and the most richly rewarded.

Pink reveals six major aptitudes that contribute to this new mind. These are: design, story, empathy, symphony, play and meaning. These are explored in detail and are fascinating to read.

At the end of each chapter Pink puts together a “portfolio” of ideas, strategies, resources and exercises, culled from experts around the world, that further your understanding and development in that area. They are immensely eclectic, fun and useful.

I could not put the book down. I think you’ll enjoy it too.

Get it at any major bookstore including Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Borders.

Checkout the book here.