As mentioned in last month’s post, Print Isn’t Dead!, I’m a huge fan of all things print and this, of course, includes books! This month I’ll be sharing books that really helped shape who I am as a designer as well as provided inspiration when scrolling through Behance just didn’t cut it (no offense to Behance but I just like looking at books!).
1. Failed It!
First on my list is Failed It! by Erik Kessel. I don’t know about you but I fail a lot! We all do; making mistakes and learning from them is how we progress. If we never failed, we couldn’t become better and then humanity would become placid and probably eventually die out due to sheer boredom. Kessel embraces the mistakes of others as well as his own all while showing just how important these blunders really are to artists and designers alike.
Next is an older edition that I picked up in an art book sale: Promo: The Ultimate in Graphic Designer’s and Illustrator’s Self-promotion by Rose DeNeve. This book is from 1990 and, in my opinion as a 25 year old, pretty old! It may be older than me, but looking back on it, it still has really great examples and ideas for branding and self promotion. The book includes examples of the best (at the time) in invitations, client booklets, branding packages, and even corporate Christmas cards. I always like to grab inspiration from graphic design history as really great design can transcend decades.
3. 200 Best
Lürzer's Archive produces a compilation magazine showcasing the best in advertising and design; I actually really the 200 Best special editions that focus on specific niches within the industry such as photography, illustration or (my personal favorite) packaging. My first copy was the 200 Best is the 2015/2016 Packaging special and I’ve been a fan of the series ever since!
4. Graphic Design: A New History
After finishing with my Associate’s degree, I was gifted an award for Top Design Student of my college and gifted Graphic Design: A New History. It’s one of the many prestigious Yale textbooks but still one that not only holds sentimental value to me but also inspirational and historic value. The book breaks done all the major art and design movements throughout history, making a must have reference book for all design aficionados.
5. This Means This, This Means That
This Means This, This Means That by Sean Hall was actually one of my textbooks for a very unique course I took during my university days and even though does not teach technical design skills, it delves into a topic that I believe all designers should understand even if it’s relatively unknown. Coming into the first day of Semiotics class, no one knew what exactly semiotics was; thankfully we all spent a semester learning exactly what that meant. In my own terms, semiotics is the study of symbols and signs and their interpretation throughout history as well as in modern times. Understanding the principles of semiotics can be incredibly helpful in being able to interpret the underlying connotations in today’s advertising.
6. Communication Arts Magazine
This should really come as a no brainer; Communication Arts showcases the year’s top designers, illustrators, photographers and everyone in between in their specialized annual issues. I appreciate all the issues regardless of their subject matter but, of course, my favorite is always the Design Annual— it gives me an idea of the year’s trends as well as the current standard. To me, it acts as a mix of inspiration for future projects as well as the much needed push to keep creating, keep learning and keep getting better within my designs.
Whatever fills your shelves, print materials are always a home run in this increasingly digital world, providing a more tangible form of inspiration and innovation. And I would promote reading, literally anything, as well; it’s the one thing that can get me out of a rut or help formulate some much needed ideas when I am in dire need of something new. If you have any books/magazines/what have you that you think should be given a shoutout, reply in the comments below!