The top 30 summer reads for designers

Looking for some good holiday reads? Here’s a quick overview of some of the best design books released so far this year, from typography to illustration to logo design. Whether you’re looking for a light read or something more educational, you’ll find tons of inspiration to help boost your creative thinking and have you itching to get back to your desk after a well-spent break...

01. Hegarty on Creativity: There are No Rules

The latest from ad man John Hegarty focuses on creativity and examines how we can be better at it and better communicate it. Using 50 different themes that all have creativity at their centre, from more shallow ideas such as ego, money and technology to the more complex challenges of modern life, like how to be angry in a professional and conductive manner, he brings the debate of creativity to life’s daily practicalities. A great choice if you’re looking for a challenging read that’ll stretch your thinking.

02. An Excuse to Draw: Tommy Kane Sketches the World

Globetrotter, artist and long-established creative director Tommy Kane has become popular across the world for both his advertising genius and travel illustrations. This, his first ever book-length collection, focuses on his many adventures in a style that is inspired by the likes of comic artists such as R. Crumb and James Jean. A great illustrated travelogue with some very witty takes on the world.

03. The 365 Project: A Designer's Daily Challenge

Based on his original blog, this is the collection of the year’s worth of daily challenges and projects that designer Bryn Hobson set himself on his personal blog. Compiled into a book, you can read all about the inspiration behind each task, the process involved and what he learned. It might even inspire you to start your own 365-day challenge!

04. The Graphic Designer's Guide to Clients

Navigating the world of client relationships is never easy, no matter how many years you’ve been in the business. Through a series of one-to-one interviews with leading designers such as Milton Glaser, April Greiman, Mke Weymouth and Drew Hodges, Ellen Shapiro’s guide offers some great advice on how to build rapport with clients. A great way to pick up a few tips on how to keep your clients happy.

05. Graphic Content: True Stories from Top Creatives

Ever wondered what really goes on in the minds of the world’s top creatives? San Francisco-based artist and designer Brian Singer leads a team of designers, engineers and filmmakers at Facebook and, in his very funny and original book, shares the weird and often wacky experience of those working in the industry. That crazy Wednesday night you had in the scrap yard involving next door’s taxidermy cat… yep, he’s probably got a story to top that, too.

06. The Designer Says: Quotes, Quips and Words of Wisdom

Another one to add to the list if you’re looking for insider advice from top dogs in the industry.

Sara Bader’s book is a collection of quotes from some of the design world’s most renowned and talented designers, set out like a discussion at an end-of-the-world dinner party. An entertaining and informative poolside read that's suitably easy to dip in and out of.

07. What They Didn't Teach You in Design School: What You Actually Need to Know to Make a Success in the Industry

Let’s face it, design school is a great grounding for your career, but you’re not going to learn everything you need to know to prepare you for the real world. In this book, industry heavyweights provide career advice from learning how to get that all-important first job to impressing your new employer. A must read if you’re a design graduate looking to get ahead.

08. Extra/Ordinary: From Everyday Objects to Art

Turning everyday objects into art is hardly a new concept - Andy Warhol made himself famous on it. But this great read from publisher Index Books explores it within a modern perspective. Showcasing work from a range of inspiring artists, it forces us to rethink the objects around us and find the magic in the mundane.

09. Ultimate branding

How can design be used to build and bolster a brand and their identity? In this superb new collection from Monsa, Josep M. Minguet and Patricia Martinez highlight some of the most inspiring branding work around, whether that’s an initial concept or a finished project, and take a closer look at the creative artists behind the design. A good choice if you’re designing for the consumer market.

10. Linkography: Unfolding the Design Process (Design Thinking, Design Theory)

Creativity: can you define the process behind it? Gabriela Goldschmidt’s new book examines the imagination behind design and why designers think the way that they do. Using 13 case studies of design in practice and insights from cognitive psychology, Goldschmidt attempts to understand the logic behind the creative process and why certain steps derive a particular conclusion. Not the lightest of books to dip in and out of next to the pool, but a must-read if you’re looking to understand more about design thinking.

11. Make your own luck by Kate Moross

Graphic design books 2014

More of a memoir than a step-by-step guide, in this book illustrator and art director Kate Moross provides some invaluable insight into how to survive the often bumpy world of design from self-promotion to collaborating with others to that all-contentious issue of when to work for free. And she's certainly someone to learn a few life lessons from. By the age of 21, Morross had already set-up up a record label, designed a collection for Topshop and worked for a roster of big-name brands such as Nike and Google.

12. Drawing Type by Alex Fowkes

Graphic design books 2014

Have you ever wanted to know more about the designer behind the typeface?

In his book, Fowkes takes us behind some real-world projects to interview a number of different typographers about their unique processes.

A typographer himself, Fowkes has created a number of typographical illustrations for the likes of Sony Music and Outlook Festival, and provides some working advice to help you draw serifs, san serifs and scripts.

13. B is for Bauhaus by Deyan Sudjic

Graphic design books 2014

Director of London's Design Museum, Deyan Sudjic's anthology provides an A-Z list of contemporary culture, from authenticity to zips!

He uses his own personal experiences- his architectural background, curator of a number of museums around the world and co-creation of Blueprint magazine – to make assertions about some of the myths (and truths) in popular culture, from what makes a Warhol a genuine fake to the principles of Functionalism.

14. Typography 34 by Type Directors Club

Graphic design books 2014

Typography 24 is the latest annual instalment from the Type Directors Club, which curates some of the world's best typography work through its annual competition.

This book showcases some of the best and most exciting work from 2012. Over 2,300 designers submitted their work for consideration and the book celebrates innovation in type design across a variety of formats including books, magazines, corporate identities, logos and posters.

15. Postermania: New Poster Design by Cristian Campos

Graphic design books 2014

If you're interested in poster design then this is the book for you.

In Postermania: New Poster Design, author Cristian Campos provides an overview of contemporary poster design and selects some of the world's best illustrators and graphic designers to showcase a number of design styles such as minimalist, baroque, retro and futuristic, as well as the more traditional types of poster design.

16. How to be an Illustrator by Darrel Rees

Graphic design books 2014

As anyone will tell you, crafting your career as a successful freelance illustrator is hard so if you're after some advice on the practicalities of getting yourself seen and commissioned, then look no further.

Written by illustrator and agent Darrel Rees, the second edition of How to be an Illustrator provides invaluable advice on everything from creating a portfolio through to negotiating contracts – and how to make sure you don't flop when going it alone.

17. Pioneer of the Modern Logo by Wilhelm Deffke

Graphic design books 2014

Known as the 'Father of the modern logo', Wilhelm Deffke (1887-1950) established the first modern advertising agency in Germany in 1915 and designed more than 10,000 logos that were both innovative and ground-breaking for their time.

A new monograph, and first book ever published about Deffke, Pioneer of the Modern Logo showcases his work as a commercial artist, architect, poster and book designer, and includes a number of unseen images alongside 14 insightful essays exploring his work.

18. Graphic Design for Fashion by Jay Hess and Simone Pasztorek

Graphic design books 2014

Simone Pasztorek and Jay Hess are the two fashion and design creatives behind the London-based creative studio byBOTH. In Graphic Design for Fashion, they shine the light on the best graphic design studios' work within the fashion industry, which includes everything from packaging to catwalk invitations - with exclusive insights from both clients and designers.

19. New Typefaces by Isabel Naegele, Petra Eisele and Annette Ludwig

Graphic design books 2014

With more and more new typefaces appearing all the time, it can be hard to keep up with some of the latest designs.

New Typefaces: Positions and Perspectives acts as a curator of some of the most unique and original designs of recent times, as well as interviews with a number of typographers to understand the thinking and influence behind their work. All in all, this book offers a fascinating insight into the creative world of type design.

20. Designing the Editorial Experience by Sue Apfelbaum and Juliette Cezzar

Graphic design books 2014

This book explores the increasingly varied mediums we use to consume content, from the traditional book format to mobiles and tablets, and what that means for designers, editors and even digital strategists.

With unique insight into the ever-changing world of publishing and some examples of the most creative editorial around, Designing the Editorial Experience: A Primer for Print, Web, and Mobile is a great book for exploring both the producers and consumers of editorial design.

21. Typefaces: The Complete Works by Adrian Frutiger

Graphic design books 2014

Adrian Frutiger is one of Germany's most talented and well-known typographers, designing over 50 different type faces and creating hundreds of logos.

Based on interviews and conversations with Adrian Frutiger himself, Typefaces: The Complete Works comprehensively references the great man's work and intends to be used as a source of inspiration for the next generation of type designers.

22. User experience design by Gavin Allanwood and Peter Beare

Graphic design books 2014

Do you consider user experience in your designs? This new book outlines the importance of user design techniques in helping you create targeted designs that perfectly resonate with the audience that see your work.

The authors explore the use of scenarios, personas and prototyping in idea development, and will help you get the most out of the latest tools and techniques to produce interactive designs that users will love.

With practical projects to get you started, and stunning examples from some of today's most innovative studios, this is an essential introduction to modern UXD.

23. Illustration: Meeting the Brief by Alan Male

Graphic design books 2014

If your job is to create illustrations according to a specific brief, then this is the book for you.

In Illustration: Meeting the Brief, author Alan Male looks at the overall project, from concept to completion, through a number of illustrative examples and asks you to consider things in the process that you may not have done so before, such as how the image conveys information, the message and the use of truth or metaphor, as well as that all-important reminder to remember both audience and client in the process.

24. Creative Advertising: An Introduction by Miriam Sorrentino

Graphic design books 2014

This is great book to read if you're creating art for brands. As the title suggests, Creative Advertising: An Introduction
examines advertising and branding practices and showcases some of the very best examples of creative advertising out there.

It also acts as a how-to guide for succeeding in the industry, with advice on portfolio presentation, making contacts, collaborating with others and how to develop your skills as an individual.

25. Type Object by Barbara Brownie

Graphic design books 2014

Dr Barbara Brownie from the University of Hertfordshire specialises in two main research areas: typography and costume.

In her latest book, she analyses the tangible properties of typographic letters and as objects beyond just three-dimensional shapes.

Brownie attempts to show the personality of each letter and encourages us as readers to see them as far more unique and personal than simply characters on a page in a book.

26. Typography Pocket Essentials by Alastair Campbell and Alistair Dabbs

Graphic design books 2014

If you've just started learning about typesetting, then get yourself a copy of this slim guide. A simple and quick introduction to the world of typography, this book provides an overview of typography's history, as well as its key principles and techniques.

A full introduction to of the most useful and important fonts completes the book. With this handy primer, anyone can master the basic principles of type layout and create pages that are easy on the eye and captivate the reader.

27. Adventures in Letterpress by Brandon Mise

Graphic design books 2014

With letterpress techniques becoming increasingly popular, American letterpress printer Brandon Mise collates some of the US' best examples. He also interviews the artists and printers still using this process and keeping the tradition alive.

Suitable for both designers and crafts enthusiasts, Adventures in Letterpress includes edgy, witty designs ranging from quirky political ads and poetry broadsides to humorous ephemera, animalia, retro and just plain weird stuff.

28. Type Rules: The Designer's Guide to Professional Typography by Ilene Strizver

Graphic design books 2014

The fourth edition of this book on typography is jam-packed with lots of practical advice on everything from how to design a typeface to how to use design programs, such as Adobe Creative Suite.

As one of the oldest and more-established books on the subject - but fully updated for 2014 - Type Rules: The Designer's Guide to Professional Typography is one to add to your library and return to again and again.

Graphic design books 2014

Chock-full with examples, this simply titled book showcases some of the finest typography art from 200 design agencies and studios, and across a wide range of categories such as advertising, logos, kinetic typography and fashion.

Across 500 pages, the selections encompass a wide range of categories, including: advertisement and promotion, brochures and catalogues, corporate identities and logos, packaging, street fashion, interiors, posters, book design, cards, invitations, stationary, and type in motion.

30. Infographics & Data Visualizations by Tang Art

Graphic design books 2014

Infographics have become increasingly common in the marketing world but it's not often you seen an artistically-designed infographic. This book showcases examples of just that and encourages and advises designers on how to create their own unique visual displays of language.

Are there any new books we've missed off the list? Let us know in the comments box below!

Words: Natalie Brandweiner

Natalie Brandweiner is an online journalist for, covering social media and marketing, and has a keen interest in design. This is an updated and extended version of an article that was previously published on Creative Bloq.

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