A Designer's Bookshelf

Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time and money on design books. A lot of them were ones I needed to buy for class, while others were recommend to me by friends. As a professional designer, I find it extremely beneficial to always be refreshing your basic skills. Books have always been helpful for me to further my education, understand history and purpose, and really just for inspiration in general. 

A Designer's Bookshelf // 9 books to read if you're a graphic designer

I’ve picked out nine books from my shelf to share that I hope other designers will find helpful. Check and see if your local library has them if you do not have the money, but I would recommend investing in building a design library. I've enjoyed referencing some of these books again and again, and am always looking to expand my shelf.

A Designer's Bookshelf // 9 books to read if you're a graphic designer

Thinking with Type, 2nd revised and expanded edition: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students. This is hands down one of my favorite books. It’s a book not just for designers, but for anyone who has to deal with type. Read this book. Learn rules of typography.

Layout Workbook: A Real-World Guide to Building Pages in Graphic Design. I bought this in school, but thankfully I had instructors who taught everything in it. I would recommend this to someone who is a “self-taught” designer, or to anyone wanting to refresh their layout skills.

Type and Typography. I’m just going to go ahead and say this. If you didn’t take a typography class and you are a designer, buy and read this book. It explains basically everything you need to know about type and typography, as the title states. This book is on my “read again soon” list.

A Designer's Bookshelf // 9 books to read if you're a graphic designer

Meggs' History of Graphic Design. A little piece of full disclosure on my part. I somehow got out of taking the graphic design history class in college. One of my professors found out and said, “Briana, you have to read this book before you graduate if you want to be a designer.” So I bought it. I’m still reading it though…oops!

Marks of Excellence: The History and Taxonomy of Trademarks. This changed everything. From an editorial review listed on the Amazon page, “The indulgence of the coffee-table format is combined in this book with an intelligent and comprehensive text to create a reading experience properly saturated with looking.” Yep.

Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team, 4th Edition. I own the 3rd edition of this book, which seems to have better reviews than the 4th one, but none the less. I love process so I enjoy this book. Some people would rather check this one out from the library though. If you have anything to do with branding–ranging from building a brand or keeping people in line with a brand–I would say read it at least once. It was helpful.

A Designer's Bookshelf // 9 books to read if you're a graphic designer

Graphic Artist's Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines. BUY THIS EVERYONE. This has singlehandedly been the most useful book I’ve ever purchased, mainly for deciding on freelance pricing. Every time I get a chance to read a bit, I learn something new. Just buy it.

The Leap Year Project: Learning to Risk & Risking to Learn. This isn’t a design book, but it’s so inspirational. Victor’s story is encouraging, challenging, risky, and empowering. I can’t say enough good things about this book and Victor. Peppered throughout the book, is the story of so many people who took a leap in 2012. Click the title to buy the book and to sign up for a newsletter leading up to LYP 2016.

Just Design: Socially Conscious Design for Critical Causes. Not limited to graphic design, but design in general. I just enjoyed reading this book for fun. It ended up being inspiring though–seeing how others think and the solutions they came up with for various projects.

I hope this was a somewhat helpful list. Keep in mind, these are my own opinions about these books. Some of these books I hated the first time I looked through them, and later learned to deeply appreciate. Like I mentioned before, I think it's important as designers to keep refreshing your basic skills. What books would you recommend? 

Inspiration Board: Radiant

One of the most beneficial things taught to me in design school was the importance of process. I thrive with process. One of the key steps in any design project for me is doing research. After talking to my client, picking up on key adjectives and goals, and mind-mapping based on the information, I start researching.

Inspiration Board: Radiant // brianakapper.com // Briana Kapper is a graphic designer who loves freelancing for small brands and churches.

One of my most recent freelance projects was a women's conference for a church. I was thrilled to work on a project like this! The girl who hired me for this gig, I worked with at my last job. Since I left, she and her husband moved to Canada, and she works at a church that is actually part of the fellowship of our last church home. Sorry if that is confusing! She was such a joy through this process, and I deeply appreciated that she trusted me to do my thing. 

There was something great about doing the designs for this conference. I worked at a large church for awhile, and have done a lot of freelance for other churches as well. We've always had the target audience of men, so I haven't really gotten the chance to have women as the target audience for a large scale branding project. Maybe I was just excited because I'm a woman? I don't know. It was fun!

Their team wanted something fun and pretty, but it also needed to have staying power. After going through the steps of my design process, I headed in the direction of floral etchings, bold colors, and a classic font for the final design. My inspiration board (above) might seem all over the place, but it really helped me narrow down to the final design theme. We were all really happy with the end result, and I'm excited to share it in a few weeks!