Michael Draper

Best Graphic Design Books For New Designers (Our 5 Favorites)

5 min read


There is an abundance of great design resources on the internet. Excellent courses on Udemy. Thousands of tutorials on YouTube. Influencers live streaming on Insta.

And you should be taking it all in. Knowledge and inspiration are being shared freely, every day.

But sometimes, you've got to unplug. The onslaught of digital information can overwhelm you if you're not careful. It's easy to get lost when an algorithm pushes suggestions to keep you on their platform, or the ding of a social media notification pulls your focus.

For all of the knowledge on the internet, there are just as many distractions.

We've found the best way to get centered, and stay inspired, is a great book.

We've put together a list of the five best graphic design books we own.

These resources influence our work every day—everything from modern logo design and typography to just good old-fashioned best practices.

We hope you enjoy this list as much as we enjoy these books! 

(None of these are affiliate links. Just genuine recommendations.)

Logo Modernism. This book slaaaaaaps.

Logo Modernism by Jens Müller

A must-have if you're a student of modern logo design. A pricey book, for sure, but well worth it. 4.9 stars out of over 600 reviews on Amazon.

This unprecedented TASCHEN publication, authored by Jens Müller, brings together approximately 6,000 trademarks, focused on the period 1940–1980, to examine how modernist attitudes and imperatives gave birth to corporate identity. Ranging from media outfits to retail giants, airlines to art galleries, the sweeping survey is organized into three design-orientated chapters: Geometric, Effect, and Typographic. Each chapter is then sub-divided into form and style led sections such as alphabet, overlay, dots and squares.

Despite Strait Lines. Poetry included.

Despite Straight Lines by Josef Albers

This book comes highly recommended by our good friend (and badass designer) Gus Niklos.

Josef Albers is best known for his extensive, influential research in color theory as well as for the hundreds of paintings/prints in the series "Homage to the Square." Through his teachings he introduced a generation of American artists to the modernist concepts of Bauhaus, while his experimentation in color theory, interaction & geometric shapes inspired American art movements & artists such as Jacob Lawrence, R. Rauschenberg & S. Sillman. "Despite Straight Lines" contains an analysis of his graphic constructions by Francois Bucher & Albers' poetry.

The Elements of Typographic Style. Putting Typography font and center.

The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst

This book comes highly recommended by multi-disciplinary designer Nick Boxwell. It's his go to for text layouts.

It’s hard to overstate the reputation Bringhurst and his book have gained in the typographic community. It didn’t hurt that Zapf blurbed the book’s first edition by calling for the book to become the “Typographer’s Bible”. More recently, Hoefler & Frere-Jones have called Elements “the finest book ever written about typography”.

Pretty Much Everything. A modern day master.

Draplin Design Co.: Pretty Much Everything by Aaron James Draplin

You've definitely seen his work.

Esquire. Ford Motors. Burton Snowboards. The Obama Administration. While all of these brands are vastly different, they share at least one thing in com­mon: a teeny, little bit of Aaron James Draplin. Draplin is one of the new school of influential graphic designers who combine the power of design, social media, entrepreneurship, and DIY aesthetic to create a successful business and way of life.

Pretty Much Everything is a mid-career survey of work, case studies, inspiration, road stories, lists, maps, how-tos, and advice.

Designing Brand Identity. A must-have for design teams.

Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team by Alina Wheeler

We probably read this book once a year. It is a constant resource when we're designing brand identity packages.

Whether you're the project manager for your company's rebrand, or you need to educate your staff or your students about brand fundamentals, Designing Brand Identity is the quintessential resource. From research to brand strategy to design execution, launch, and governance, Designing Brand Identity is a compendium of tools for branding success and best practices for inspiration.

Take a look. It's in a book.

If you're a new designer just starting out, grab one (or all) of these books. Have them close to your work station. When YouTube begins to overwhelm, pull out one of these beauties and brew a cup of tea. Learn from some of the masters and refocus.

Do you have a favorite graphic design book? Let us know, we'd love to read it too!