Design

20 Books That Take Your Design to the Next Level

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When you’re designing, sometimes you get a bit stuck. You’re trying the same things you’ve always done, but they’re not working the ways you’re used to.

That’s when it’s time to look elsewhere for inspiration. We love Pinterest here at Piktochart, but maybe you’re into something a little more tangible. That’s cool.

Take a look through this list of design books and see if something sparks your imagination. While there are some books in this list that are oriented more towards infographic design, there’s a wide variety of topics covering everything from fonts to creativity.

Got any favorite design books that we’ve left out? Let us know your go-to inspiration book down in the comments!

Read also:  16 Great Books Every Visual Marketer Should Read

Wordless Diagrams

Design is about more than just pictures, but sometimes getting those pictures just right is key. This book showcases the power of pictures without words by using diagrams to get the point across.


D.I.Y.: Design It Yourself

If you’re looking for something a little more varied than simply infographic design, this book focuses on everything from wedding invites to posters. It’s got a little bit of something for everyone, and it should help you get out of that design slump in no time.


Graphic Design Visionaries

There’s something to be learned from the designers that came before us. Check out this book to see what people with original ideas about what the future will or could be like had in mind, ranging from the 1890s to today.


Infographics Designers’ Sketchbooks

From the publisher:

In Infographic Designers’ Sketchbooks, more than fifty of the world’s leading graphic designers and illustrators open up their private sketchbooks to offer a rare glimpse of their creative processes.

This is a spectacular way to jump start your stalled thought process. If it helps you to see how others work out their thoughts and choices, this design book is a great choice for you.


The Visual Miscellaneum: A Colorful Guide to the World’s Most Consequential Trivia

This book is not a design book per se, but it is full of amazing infographic designs. If you’re looking for inspiration, this book is all about putting the data that we’re bombarded with every day into a more visually appealing format.


Draplin Design Co.: Pretty Much Everything

This is my favorite book in the list, namely because Aaron Draplin is the kind of designer I’d want to be. He’s honest and down-to-earth, and that comes through in this collection of design projects he’s worked on. Everything from Field Notes and Ford to the Obama campaign is in this design book, and it shows what a designer with a wide range of clients can do.


Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits

If you’ve ever had to tackle the job of branding, whether for a large company or your small business, you know that it can be a daunting task. This book contains twenty interviews with the world’s leading designers and thinkers in branding, and there’s something to be learned from everyone of them.


Thinking with Type

The publisher says that this book is “the definitive guide to using typography in visual communication, from the printed page to the computer screen.” Now you can match up what you say, how you say it, and how it looks.


Type on Screen

This design book is a follow-up to Thinking with Type, and it focuses on typography for digital avenues, whether that’s a blog or an e-book. With most of the media that’s designed these days being put on a screen in one way or another, this book is an essential resource to make sure you’re designing it (whatever it is) right.


American Illustration 34

This book is a juried collection of some of the most beautiful illustrated art to come out of America in the past year. The collection of books is available in both hardcover and digital versions, so if you’re looking to carry some design inspiration on your iPad, this would be the selection for you.


Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills

Creative Workshop is all about giving you exercises that will make you more well-rounded. From designing a new typeface to putting together a paper robot, this book will help you develop the processes necessary to become a better, stronger, faster designer.


Scripts: Elegant Lettering from Design’s Golden Age

This design book is a font nerd’s dream (I’m speaking from experience). It’s composed almost entirely of images that are both inspirational and mesmerizing. Script fonts have been around for generations, and any designer that works with invitations, announcements, menus, and the like will find something wonderful and useful in this book.


The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

According to the publisher, this is the “classic book on statistical graphics, charts, tables.” It contains more than 250 illustrations of the best (and a few of the worst) statistical graphics, with a detailed analysis of how to display data for precise, effective, quick analysis. If you work with charts and graphs (or just plan to include them in your infographic design), you need to check out this timeless classic.


Graphic Design: The New Basics

This book was co-written by Ellen Lupton, who wrote or edited two other books on our list. It utilizes visual demonstrations and concise commentary to explain the key concepts of visual language and the elements of two-dimensional design that inform any work of design, from logo or letterhead design to a complex website.


Information Graphics

This was one of the original books that began the infographic revolution. For anyone interesting in communicating visually, this book is a showcase of more than 400 infographic designs that can inform and inspire your next project.


Make It Bigger

This book by 30-year veteran designer Paula Scher examines the graphic design profession primarily through the lens of the business community it serves. It focuses on what it takes to move through the design process from idea to collaboration to final product. This is a must read for anyone working with other graphic artists or as the designer on a team of non-designers.


Show Me the Numbers: Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten

At first glance, Show Me the Numbers may not look like the most beautifully designed book, especially to the design-minded viewer. But what lies within is the most accessible, practical, and comprehensive guide to table and graph design available. If you work with numbers or plan to incorporate graphs into your infographic design, this is a book you should check out.


The Best American Infographics 2015

From the publisher:

The rise of infographics across nearly all print and electronic media—from a graphic illuminating the tweets of the women of Isis to a memorable depiction of the national geography of beer—reveals patterns in our lives and the world in often startling ways. The Best American Infographics 2015 showcases visualizations from the worlds of politics, social issues, health, sports, arts and culture, and more.

This is infographic design inspiration at its best. With a new version published every year (the 2016 edition is due out in October and can be pre-ordered now), you’ll almost always have something new and inspirational to draw from.


Type Matters

In case it wasn’t already obvious, I’m a bit of a typography geek. Type Matters is a book after my heart. It covers a range of topics from an introduction to the basics of typography to all types of settings (pun intended). It covers the confusing terminology that accompanies a generations-old craft with ease. The library of any designer who deals with words would be better off with this book.


Steal Like an Artist

Steal Like an Artist is one of a new class of books that every up-and-coming creative person should have in their library. By focusing on the creative process, the author has created a “guide whose positive message, graphic look and illustrations, exercises, and examples will put readers directly in touch with their artistic side.”


Have we left out any of your design essentials? Let us know down in the comments!

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