Graphic designers are always looking to add to their skills. The more techniques you know and styles you understand, the better you can create assets that match what your clients need. Perusing the best graphic design books of the moment can help you keep your work sharp and develop new techniques.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates around 254,100 people work in graphic design, and the majority have bachelor’s degrees. Even after you finish school, you’ll need to stay up on the latest design trends and keep learning. The more you know, the more marketable you’ll be and the higher wages you’ll earn.
In addition to taking some of the best free online graphic design classes, you should also read widely in the field. Our editors love to pick up new reading materials. These are some of our favorite volumes that help you grow as a designer and a person. All prices listed for these best graphic design books are for the Kindle version unless no digital copy is available.
1. Ideas on Demand: A Crash Course on Creativity
One of the hardest parts of being a graphic designer is the ongoing demand to come up with fresh, creative ideas no one has tried before. In order to stay on top of your game, you must look at the world a bit differently than anyone else.
One of the reasons many designers choose a niche is so they can learn the ins and outs of a particular industry and become familiar enough to spot the marketing holes. The book covers how to be creative even when you feel blocked. The goal is to become the go-to person for new ideas.
The book is rated 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon. It also currently holds the number one bestseller spot for Advertising and Writing.
2. How to Draw Cool Stuff: A Drawing Guide for Teachers and Students
As a graphic designer, some of the best graphic design books help improve your skills even more. You can always enhance your drawing technique, so books on how to draw are a big bonus.
The number one bestseller offers step-by-step illustrations to show you how to make things you may not have learned to draw in school. At the same time, you’ll get a refresher in basic skills and art concepts.
The book also features a variety of exercises meant to make you look at the world like an artist. You’ll start seeing new concepts you can add to your everyday work. “How to Draw Cool Stuff” has over 15,000 reviews and 4.5 stars.
3. Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered
If you want to attract new clients, you must get your work where they can see it. “Show Your Work” covers more the promotional aspects of being a graphic designer. Some of his advice includes utilizing your network instead of just networking by sharing something small every day and learning to tell a good story.
In addition to being a bestseller, the book has 4,419 ratings with an average of 4.5 stars. When looking for the best graphic design books, don’t overlook topics outside the realm of actual design work. There are many aspects to running a successful freelance business.
4. Meggs’ History of Graphic Design
“Megg’s History” is one of the best graphic design books you’ll likely read in college. It comes in various editions, but they are all somewhat similar, so you can save a few bucks if you want by going with an older copy.
In order to really understand where graphic design is, you need to learn about those who’ve gone before, the different style cycles and study the work of great artists through the ages.
The sixth edition released in 2016, and has 4.5 out of 5 stars. Topics include a look at different eras, such as renaissance and modernism. Learn about the aesthetics of each design period and how you can apply it to modern work.
5. Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness
Another of our selections for best graphic design books looks more at how to embrace joy in your work and your life. This unique take on how to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary is helpful to most professions.
Includes a “Joyful Tool Kit” to help you apply the principles you learn. This book also has 4.5 out of 5 stars and frequently hits the bestseller lists on Amazon.
6. Graphic Design: The New Basics: Second Edition, Revised and Expanded
Few people would argue graphic design is vastly different than during the beginning of the Industrial Revolution 4.0. Advances in computer graphics and speed make the way designers work completely different than before people used computers.
Today’s designers must embrace artificial intelligence and three-dimensional design elements. On top of all that, they must consider how things appear digitally and figure out better ways to scale designs across multiple channels.
Refresh your memory on working with grids, creating type on screen and many other topics you may have learned in school but need more in-depth information about. Although there are many best graphic design books, this one is current and recently updated to reflect changing tech.
The Best Graphic Design Books for You
The best graphic design books for your needs may different from what the designer next to you wants. Everyone is unique and has individual experiences. You may want to expand your skill set and look at a specific topic. Perhaps your motivation is lacking or you need some new business management skills.
Figuring out the next book to read requires paying attention to what others rave about but also doing some self-reflection about what you need to grow. Seek out topics to help you improve just a little at a time. Soon, you’ll look back and see where you’ve grown as a graphic designer.
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About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.
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