19 Designer Books All Designers Need to Hone Their Skills

19 Designer Books All Designers Need to Hone Their Skills

No matter how smart or creative a person can originally be, such talent would be useless if it is not properly trained and honed professionally—as such, looking for a mentor or learning material definitely won’t hurt in the long run. Designer books, guides on the internet, you name it – there is no shortage of learning materials from which all craftspersons can learn something to improve their skills.

Especially for designers, inspiration is essential in keeping the designers’ overall drive to keep designing things. With the apparent abundance of human needs in the modern era, their needs have to be catered to in some way, for instance, by designing things like houses or devices to help their daily needs.

For artists, illustrators, and graphic designers, gaining inspiration for their work is an essential part of their careers. Without it, there won’t be any new artistic work coming up any time soon.

The Designer Books Recommendation

Incidentally, we have 19 designer books that can be read at any time and re-read when the designers are in need of inspiration again. This is the list!

How To by Michael Bierut

Graphic designers must know who Michael Bierut is or, at least, have heard of his name somewhere. As one of the most experienced graphic designers and graphic critics of our time, Bierut has no shortage of books to write about on graphic design. His first career retrospective, How To, is a comprehensive summary of the history of a graphic designer that anyone in the industry needs to read.

Graphic Design Theory by Helen Armstrong

We know that hands-on graphic design practice is the key to success – but there are times when being theoretical in this industry isn’t something that’s too by the book. Understanding certain artistic styles, in theory, is fundamental to all graphic designers, that’s why. Graphic Design Theory by Helen Armstrong is your best reference for that purpose. All art styles – futurism, modernism, postmodernism – are explained in detail by Helen to strengthen your theoretical understanding of art.

Thinking With Type by Ellen Lupton

Thinking with Type is to typography what Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time is to physics”, is what the official review by I Love Typography says of this world-famous book by Ellen Lupton. Typography can be a tricky thing to do, even for the experts. To that end, Ellen wrote this book about how experienced typography makers can create top-notch typography – and how the layman can learn how designers make great typography.

Design Elements, Color Fundamentals by Aaris Sherin

If you are good at working with colors, there is no doubt that your graphic designer career can be more secure. That’s the primary teaching and message point in the seminal book by Aaris Sherin for you. Color can make or break your design – everyone knows this. But you need to know that a fundamental understanding of color is the key to the success of every graphic designer.

Geometry of Design by Kimberly Elam

We won’t lie that geometry is a horrifying subject, especially during school days; everyone experiences it. But in Geometry of Design by Kimberly Elam, geometry somehow turns mesmerizing because of its use in art. Instead of pop quizzes, you will be amazed by how Elam depicts the beauty of geometry when used for artistic purposes.

How to Be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul by Adrian Shaughnessy

Designer books, on average, explain everything about graphic design – except its business aspect. To avert it, the definitive guide by Adrian Shaughnessy puts more emphasis on the business aspects of the graphic design world, such as negotiating with clients, understanding briefings, and others so that designers can get the best deal from all of this.

Copy this Book: An Artist’s Guide to Copyright by Eric Schrijver

Copyright not only guarantees the legal status of your work but also your livelihood from graphic design is guaranteed and not violated. Refer to this book by Eric Schrijver as your guide to ensure the copyright status of your work – especially concerning how copyright works, copyright duration, and others.

Mastering Type by Denise Bosler

UI designers are usually required (all designers, actually) to use designer books as reference material for theory, design, and inspiration for their work. If you are a UI designer, make sure this book is on your bookshelf for its comprehensive explanation of popularizing brand identity through UI websites and apps, as one example.

Logo by Michael Evamy

“One picture is worth a thousand words” is why all logos were created in the first place. To help with that, designer books like this one are written and equipped with more than 1,300 symbols that can be a great inspiration for designers. With the richness of this collection (including enclosed logotypes), the designers are truly spoilt for choice.

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People by Susan Weinschenk

Graphic designers are not psychologists, no. But because of their work, they are sometimes required to understand the mindset and desires of their target audience, like a psychologist. Designer books like this book are examples of books written by a psychologist with a Ph.D. who believes that by understanding the psychology of their audience, designers can fulfill their inner desires.

Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug

The development of digital technology makes designers have to expand their list of skills, such as web development. To address this challenge, Steve Krug has released the second edition of his definitive book on graphic design and web development, with the hope that designers can refer to designer books that are more up-to-date and more substantive in this field.

The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

Some of the advice in the design world, such as focusing on function over aesthetics, may sound old-school, but that’s because there is some truth to it. In his definitive book, Don Norman pours out his career-related advice on what makes design fail or not, user-friendly design, and then some.

The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair

Have you ever wondered how certain colors have emerged throughout human history and how they have been used for seemingly endless needs? Kassia St. Clair has done thorough research into this book to explain the history of each color and how knowing the characteristics of each color can make your graphic design instincts and skills even more top-notch.

Freelance and Business and Stuff by Jennifer and Amy Hood

The world of graphic design isn’t just about creating graphic designs, logos, typography, and so on – you also have to be able to manage your finances in this career field. Slightly different from other designer books, this book by Jennifer and Amy Hood, which contains guides such as negotiating with clients and growing a client base, is a must-read for all graphic designers who depend on this industry for their livelihood.

Branding: In Five and a Half Steps by Michael Johnson

More than anything, case studies have helped designer books explain how to become a competent graphic designer. Assisted by case studies clarified with clear-cut illustrations, this book by Michael Johnson will help designers understand the various situations in this career field.

Mismatch by Kat Holmes

The essence of good and successful design is not the one that panders to the majority but one that is inclusive and understandable to all. That’s what Kat Holmes believes in this book, where she argues that inclusive design is an example of true design. Holmes believes that there is no need for “mismatches” once the design has been publicized if everything can be prevented from the start with an inclusive design.

The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst

With the help of a properly designed typeface, a word or two is more than enough to convey what graphic designers want to tell. On this basis, Bringhurst added so many guides on typefaces to his book to increase the number of designer books that can help graphic designers experiencing confusion and creative blocks.

The Art of Looking Sideways by Alan Fetcher

Inspiration can come from anywhere, including the most unconventional things. But then, that’s the origin of the creative inspiration of designers. Less of a guide and more like a collection of creative info, this book is different from other designer books, which can come off as too formal and so on.

Wordless Trilogy by Aaron Becker

Without words, good art can tell so much – that’s the power of art. Although this trilogy of books is a book for children, this trilogy can be the definitive reference for all graphic designers working in the industry related to children and entertainment specifically for them.


Designer books shouldn’t just be about formal advice because unconventional and varied creative inspiration is what all designers should have to hone their skills. With this list of books, we hope to enrich all of your references. Have a nice day!