Advice #16: Graphic Design Resources

I want to learn more about graphic design! Do you have any recommendations, such as books or websites to read?

Learning about graphic design is now easier than ever, thanks to the internet. When I was in high school in the late 90s, I remember digging through the dusty library shelves and finding not much more than a few 70s era advertising and design books. How times have changed! This list is by no means complete, but I’ve compiled some of my favorite design resources below to get you started.

design blogs

1. Aisle One: An inspirational resource focused on graphic design, typography, grid systems, minimalism and modernism.

2. The Book Design Review: Book covers, book covers & more book covers!!!

3. The Dieline: This leading site on package design always has the freshest, most current industry news and product photos.

4. Grain Edit: This blog is focused on classic design work from the 1950s-1970s and contemporary designers that draw inspiration from that time period.

5. HI+LO The blog of NYC-based graphic designer (and former Senior Art Director at Kate Spade) Abby Clawson Low is full of quirky finds and inspiration.

i love typography wallpaper

I Love Typography has a collection of free type wallpapers!

6. I Love Typography: iLT is designed to inspire its readers and to make people more aware of the typography that is around them.

7. Logo Design Love: My favorite logo blog; ran by well-known graphic designer David Airey.

8. Lovely Package: If you’re interested in packaging design, this is your blog!

9. Pentagram blog: Features the work and surroundings of the award-winning design firm, Pentagram.

10. Swiss Legacy: A collaborative blog focused on typography, Swiss graphic design and the grid.

11. TypeNEU: An amazing blog with pages upon pages of type-related images.

12. Brand New: A collection of before and after shots of products and logos with reviews of the outcomes.

13. Design Observer: A blog full of writings on design and culture, as well as the best selection of article links ever in the right column.

inspirational design sites

1. Swiss Poster Collection: A comprehensive collection of posters divided by category.

2. AIGA Design Archives: These archives provide access to a massive collection of contemporary design; perfect for research and projects.

vintage posters
Examples from Totally Amazing Posters!

3. Totally Amazing Posters!: A compilation of vintage posters from around the world.

4. Covers: Dedicated to the appreciation of book cover design and updated several times a week.

5. FFFFOUND!: An massive brain spill of images (most design-related); a web service that not only allows users to post and share their favorite images found on the web, but it also recommends similar images in accordance to each user’s tastes and interests below the image they clicked on.

6. ShareSomeCandy: An inspirational design image site similar to FFFFOUND!, but without the recommendations (and random nudity).

7. Computer Love: More than just an inspirational blog, Computer Love is a unique social platform that provides design news, allows you to connect with other creatives, share your work and promote yourself.

8. Design is Kinky: This site lists tons of links to the top designers, magazine features and events, as well as upcoming exhibitions.

design resources

1. 50 Ways to Become a Better Designer: Being a successful designer has a lot to do with the way you work. It never hurts to learn a few new tricks.

2. Bittbox: Free textures and brushes galore.

3. Logopond: Identity inspiration overload.

vintage posters
The Penguin & Pelican Collection

4. Penguin & Pelican Collection: A huge collection of vintage book covers neatly organzied in a Flickr set.

5. Before & After Magazine: Features downloadable articles that teach you how to do basic design tasks. In their own words: “Before & After is dedicated to making graphic design understandable, useful and even fun for everyone.”

6. Jumpola: A big list of resources for graphic designers and marketers with links to learning resources, portfolio sites, blogs, jobs, software, supplies and more.

7. Texture King: Hundreds of free textures!

8. The History of Visual Communication: Basically a massive design history book in digital form.

9. Under Consideration: Armin Vit’s comprehensive collection of design sites full of resources and commentary that have been part of the growing dialog in design.

10. Thinking With Type: If you want to learn more about typography (including info. about fonts, families & kerning!), this site is for you.

11. YouWorkForThem: This site sells design books, magazines, videos, stock vectors and more.

12. The Grid System: Everything you’ve ever needed to know about grids.

design books

Admittedly, I don’t own many design books since I do most of my reading online. But, here are a few that I use regularly and highly recommend:

1. Helvetica: Homage to a Typeface by Lars Müller: Found Helvetica images in cities from around the world. The first design book I ever owned!

2. The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst: Sometimes called “The Typographer’s Bible,” this manual has a poetic quality to it. There’s a heaviness to the text; it’s not necessarily for beginners, but the learning curve is worth it.

3. How To Be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul by Adrian Shaughnessy: This book is a common-sense guide on how to find a job, running a studio, winning new work, self-promotion, going freelance, and more. There’s also great advice and stories from well-known designers, as well as a helpful directory of design organizations and websites in the back.

4. Issues: New Magazine Design by Jeremy Leslie & Lewis Blackwell: This book examines the culture of magazines, from the point of view of their design. It’s divided into five sections (format, covers, pace, words and images) and is a picture-packed voyage through international magazine design trends.

design books

5. Editing by design: Word-and-picture communication for editors and designers, by Jan V. White: I am a huge fan of ALL of his books. They’re comprehensive, creative and affordable with a retro cool feel. You won’t be disappointed with any of his many titles!

6. A Type Primer by John Kane: This was a required book at school, but I held onto it because it offers a great overview on type basics including the technical terms of letterforms, working with grids and how to reinforce meaning with type. If you’re an entry level designer, this book is a good option.

7. Experimental Formats 2: Books, Brochures, Catalogs by Roger Fawcett-Tang: I originally saw this at the MoMA store in New York and it blew me away. The concepts in this book are amazing and break the mold. If you’re doing any work with books, brochures or catalogs, this is the book for you.

8. Branding: From Brief to Finished Solution: A compilation of branding and identity projects from a roster of design groups with actual sketchwork, design development, research materials and finished work. This is a great opportunity to see a client brief carried out from beginning to end.

9. The Typographic Desk Reference: This book hasn’t been released yet, but it’s beautifully designed and full of indispensable material about type terms, glyphs, anatomy and type specimen examples.

Hopefully these resources will lead you to a path of learning, loving and embracing graphic design!

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