10 of the best graphic design books to read in 2017

Essential reading: 10 of the best books that all graphic designers need on their bookshelf.

With so many new graphic design books published all the time, it can be tough to know which ones you need in your studio – and which ones simply aren't worth your precious cash. So we've done the hard work for you.

Whether you're after a present for yourself or a graphic designer friend, or simply want to bulk up the office bookshelf, here are the 10 of the best graphic design books to read in 2017.

For the definitive designer's reading list, check out 30 books every graphic designer should read, and we've included some handy additional resources at the bottom of this article.

01. Draplin Design Co.: Pretty Much Everything

Get an insight into Aaron Draplin's DIY work ethic

Aaron Draplin, the man behind the branding of Esquire, Ford Motors, and even the Obama Administration takes a look back on his amazing career so far in this heartfelt and pointed retrospective.

Pretty Much Everything lives up to its title by tracing Draplin's career back to day one. Readers follow his life story as he sets off to university and forges a name for himself on the graphic design scene. Alongside shop talk there are plenty of charming personal anecdotes which give readers a genuine insight into the mind of the designer.

As with any good graphic design book, there's plenty to enjoy here visually. Pages are packed with countless examples of his work, including everything from snowboard graphics to logo designs. Pretty Much Everything is a treasure trove of work and wisdom that any design studio could benefit from owning.

02. How To

How To best graphic design books 2015

How To follows the career of one of the most successful living designers

Protégé of design legend Massimo Vignelli and partner in the New York office of iconic design firm Pentagram, Michael Bierut has enjoyed one of the most successful careers of any living graphic designer.

Equal part monograph, designer manual and manifesto, How To showcases over 35 of his projects and reveals Bierut's philosophy of graphic design:

"How to use it to sell things, explain things, make things look better, make people laugh, make people cry, and (every once in a while) change the world." It's a must-have for any graphic designer.

03. Design Annual 2016

Design Annual 2016 best graphic design books 2015

Stay inspired throughout 2016 with The Design Annual

The Design Annual is packed with world-class design projects spanning the full spectrum of creative disciplines. It's an inspiring collection of the year's best design work brought to you by the makers of Computer Arts, net, 3D World and Creative Bloq.

The Design Annual is also a masterclass in print design itself, boasting an embossed diffuser foil on the front, back and spine, plus soft-touch laminate and a spot-UV. (Read more about the Design Annual 2016.)

04. Lance Wyman: The Monograph

Lance Wyman best graphic design books 2015

Published by Unit Editions, Lance Wyman: The Monograph is a stunning tome

The first major publication devoted to legendary graphic designer Lance Wyman's entire output, Lance Wyman: The Monograph is a true print highlight of recent years.

It showcases the achievements of a long and productive career through 464 stunning pages – from his early work for General Motors, through his iconic designs for the Mexico 68 Olympics, to the Minnesota Zoo and his more recent projects.

The monograph also examines Wyman's role as a pioneer of wayfinding and features many previously unpublished items.

05. Logo: The Reference Guide to Symbols and Logotypes (mini)

Logo best graphic design books 2015

Logo is the go-to resource on the world's best logos

A mini-edition of Michael Evamy's much celebrated logo bible was published in 2015, presenting more than 1,300 symbols and logotypes in pocket-sized format.

This vast collection includes the work of iconic masters like Paul Rand and Saul Bass, as well as some of the most exciting work from contemporary and emerging designers, plus a series of short texts discussing recent developments in logo design.

Here's what Pentagram partner Michael Bierut said: "The next time you are tempted to design a logo, take a look at this book. Chances are, it has already been done. By raising the bar, this wonderful resource will make better designers of all of us."

06. Champagne and Wax Crayons

best graphic design books 2015

Champagne and Wax Crayons is both entertaining and informative

The debut book from freelance art director and illustrator Ben Tallon, Champagne and Wax Crayons is a deeply personal and brutally honest account of starting and surviving in the creative industries.

Dealing with the freelance lifestyle, finding your place, developing and branching out into other areas among many other topics, it's a brilliant read for any creative – whether you're an illustrator, like Tallon, or not.

07. New Perspectives in Typography

best graphic design books 2015

Collated by Henrik Kubel and Scott Williams, there's a typographic treat on every page

New Perspectives in Typography is a typographic treat for designers and typophiles alike. Taking an A-Z approach to contemporary type design, it showcases the work of more than 100 designers – including David Peardon, Philippe Apeloig, Anthony Burrill and some more surprising entries too.

Collated by Henrik Kubel and Scott Williams, founders of independent typographic studio A2/SW/HK, the book features 500 beautiful full-colour visual examples, alongside though-provoking essays exploring the past and future of type design.

08. Becoming a Graphic and Digital Designer: A Guide to Careers in Design

Best graphic design books 2015

Get true industry insight with Becoming a Graphic and Digital Designer

Building on the past successes of Becoming a Graphic Designer and Becoming a Digital Designer, this newly combined fifth edition from Steven Heller and Veronique Vienne addresses the demands of finding and succeeding at a design career in the 21st century.

With an emphasis on portfolio requirements and job opportunities, this guide contains portfolio inspiration from experts in graphic design fields like advertising, data visualisation and film design, while interviews with leading designers like Michael Bierut, Stefan Sagmeister and Mirko Ilic provide an insider's perspective on career trajectory.

09. Independence: Interview with 12 Magazine Makers

This limited-run book published by MagCulture is the result of 12 interviews conducted by Jeremy Leslie during 2015's Pick Me Up festival, Independence provides a fascinating insight into contemporary British independent magazine publishing.

Eye's John L Walters, Danny Miller of Weapons of Reason and Anorak's Cathy Olmedillas are just three of the fettered pros who provide advice, tips and an honest account of exactly what it takes to launch and run your own magazine.

10. Graphic Design Visionaries

Best graphic design books 2015

Fill the gaps in your knowledge with Graphic Design Visionaries

Featuring 75 of the world's most influential designers, this book presents the story of graphic design through the inspiring personal stories alongside large, full-colour reproductions of their boundary-pushing work.

It's arranged chronologically, and features the likes of M/M Paris, Wim Crouwel, Tom Eckersley, Stefan Sagmeister, Studio Dumbar, Irma Boom and more (not in that order).

Incredibly informative and inspiring, Graphic Design Visionaries introduces many of the key designers every practitioner should know.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Julia Sagar is a freelance journalist and editor. Formerly a commissioning editor for Creative Bloq, Computer Arts, net, Imagine FX and 3D World magazines, she’s been writing about art and design for 10 years.