The 6 Must-Read Books to Unleash Your Inner Designer

If you’re starting your design career or just looking to learn more about design, these are some of the essential books you should read ASAP!

Gabriela Ross

In the beginning, as a design student or someone interested in design, everything seems necessary and important to learn. You want to boost your creativity and also absorb as much information as possible—and quickly.

There are many excellent books about design—more than we can fit in one list, so we had to choose wisely!

These are our recommendations of 6 design books that will help you find inspiration and solutions to your new creative challenges.

6 essential books for beginner graphic designers

With these books, you'll get to learn the basics of graphic design. Plus, you'll discover practical skills and tips for your own creations.

1. Graphic Design School: The Principles and Practice of Graphic Design

Cover image of the book: Graphic Design School
Image with sample pages from the book: Graphic Design School

If you're not sure where to start, then this is the first book you should get. This book will help you understand graphics in a different way.

Graphic Design School by David Dabner, Sandra Stewart, and Abbie Vickress, covers both the theory and practical aspects of design, with lots of examples. Including websites, books, magazines, app design, and more.

2. You Are an Artist: Assignments to Spark Creation

Cover image of the book: You Are an Artist

This book's name is the affirmation you need to say out loud in the morning while looking at yourself in the mirror: You are an artist!

Written by Sarah Urist Green, this book has more than 50 ideas, assignments, and techniques to help you make art in any way. No matter if you have experience in design or not.

Some of the most innovative creators working today collaborated with Sarah Urist for the creation of this book. Including Dread Scott, Alec Soth, Gillian Wearing, Fritz Haeg, Sonya Clark, Pablo Helguera, and many others.

3. The Non-Designer’s Design Book

Cover image of the book: The Non-Designer´s Book

The title says it all, right?

This guide by Robin Williams—the American author, not the comedian—covers design for beginners and non-designers in four basic principles.

With her iconic light-hearted style, Robin shares techniques, quizzes, exercises, and tips for creating better designs with confidence and creativity. In short: you'll love this book!

4. How to... by Michael Bierut

Cover image of the book: How to, by Michael Bierut
Image with sample pages from the book: How to by Michael Bierut

Actually, the complete title of this book with no equal is: "How to Use Graphic Design to Sell Things... Explain Things, Make Things Look Better, Make People Laugh, Make People Cry, and (Every Once in a While) Change the World".

This book is commonly known as the bible for graphic designers. In this masterpiece, Michael Bierut, one of the world’s most renowned graphic designers, shares insights from more than 35 of his projects, his creative process, his work-life, and the challenges of innovation and design.

Don't wait up and add this book to your reading list!

5. Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team

Cover image of the book: Designing Brand Identity

This book by Alina Wheeler is not only for designers but for marketers and creative professionals as well. Designing Brand Identity is divided into three sections: brand fundamentals, process basics, and case studies.

With her 5-stage process for brand development and implementation, Alina Wheeler provides an in-depth guide that will become your go-to resource for how to build a brand.

Get this book to dive into the latest trends, best practices, and examples from world-class brands.

6. 100 Ideas That Changed Graphic Design

Cover image of the book: 100 Ideas That Changed Graphic Design
Sample pages from the book: 100 Ideas That Changed Graphic Design

This book by Steven Heller and Veronique Vienne is a must-read for everyone studying product design or interested in the subject. In this book, you'll discover the 100 most influential ideas that shaped what we now know as graphic design, from technical aspects to styles, to products and methods.

What to read next?

Once you get the ball rolling, you'll notice what subjects interest you the most. Maybe you decide to focus on color theory, logos, or illustration systems. The possibilities are endless!

You don't have to be a seasoned pro to explore different techniques or types of art. You can always look for more books, tutorials, or resources to help you solve your creative needs.

If you want one more recommendation besides this list above, make sure you read the book: A Smile in the Mind: Witty Thinking in Graphic Design. It's a book by Beryl McAlhone, David Stuart, Greg Quinton, and Nick Asbury. It has tons of worldwide visual examples across decades (40 to be exact). This book has a mix of classic and recent designs examples presented in an engaging, and of course, witty way.

Bonus: The design tool you need for your next creative project

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The agony doesn’t stop there. Finding inspiration? Your next big idea? The right fonts, a grid system that works?

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Blush is ideal for non-designers, creative teams, agencies, small businesses, illustrators, entrepreneurs, and basically everyone who's looking to add doodles to transform their projects into professional-looking compositions.

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Cover image of the book template from Blush featuring illustrations
Book Template with Fuzzy Friends Illustrations.

Inspiration awaits around the corner!

Don't hesitate and start designing! You're on the right path to let your creativity rule your next creations. Reading any of these books we recommended will help you get a broad perspective of design principles, techniques, and insights to start developing your own style.

Don't forget to keep looking at what's new in the design world. Check out other resources that might help, like online courses, tutorials, webinars, or networking groups.

You can always come back to review our latest articles and find inspiration. Give us a follow at @blushdesignapp and let us know which book you chose to read, or if you've any recommendations for us too.

Let your inner passion and curiosity guide you!

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