Article Written by Casey Midgley on March 2, 2016

Design Books. What we think you should read!

So recently Robyn and I have both been getting into the books. Well, Robyn’s always been a book worm which is more than I can say for myself considering before i started reading design books, the last book I read was Aladdin in 5th grade. Don’t get me wrong, the Aladdin books were one heck of a series. (You can pick up the whole story book collection of Aladdin from the book depository – and yes, I own it too.)

Enough about Aladdin – Moving on to talk about Design Books!

This post is going to be all about some of the books hanging around the studio, some we’ve read some we plan to read.. Some of these books are not design books as such but directly related to design either in the form of marketing, business, entrepreneurship or design manuals/ inspiration books. Either way if your in any way involved in the creative industries, these are the books we think you should own (or at least borrow).

Design is a Job by Mike Monteiro
(Founder of Mule Design Studios)

Design is a job - MIKE MONTEIRO - A Book Apart | Design Books by Esthetik
I admit that I was a little enthusiastic for this bad boy to arrive and the wait was more than worth it! The read is direct, straight to the point and covers just about every topic any new designer to the industry needs to know. It is mainly focused toward website designers and developers so if your a graphic designer primarily for print, some terminology may not be directed at you. Though everyone can take a wealth of knowledge from this book – it covers everything from Contracts to Being the Boss. Design is a Job is one of the greatest short design books I have read yet.

Mike Monteiro the bearded co-founder of Mule Design and a genius – his success is no surprise to us.

We actually picked up Design is a Job at the same time as The Elements of Content Strategy by Erin Kissane which i have not got to yet, but do plan on reading very soon!

Do yourself a favor – You can pick-up the e-book for under 10 bucks, or the paperback for under $20 direct from A Book Apart.

Graphic Design Australian Style Manual

Graphic Design Australian Style Manual - Design Books Esthetik
This book is an essential for any design student, practicing professional or seasoned designer. It provides the tools needed to start your graphic design career.

The Australian Style Manual is the closest design book I have ever come across that resembles a text book for this industry – The text book for this industry. My advice for any student or designer out there is to pick up a copy of this book. It will help you! Written with an Australian & New Zealand focus, it covers everything from design history and principles to pre-press and printing techniques including topics such as colour and elements, typography, changing design environment, layouts and grids, progresses to digital design, packaging and environmental design.

It will give you professionals the guidance needed to approach problem solving (which is what this industry is about) and researching, deals with client liaison and the practicalities of the business side of Graphic Design. Showcasing the work of some of Australia and New Zealand’s most successful design studios and professionals in the community. The authors are both highly regarded educators and professionals practicing in the industry. This design book will teach you the theory and thought behind graphic design. It will equip you with the tools and inspiration needed to channel your creativity.

It will remain a handy reference for long after you’ve graduated. It’s a little on the arm and leg cost and comes in at just over $65.00 – But it is definitely one of the better $65.00 I have spent for the studio. Pick it up today from the

Logo Design Love by David Airey
(Founder of

Logo Design Love by David Airey - Design Books Esthetik
Logo Design Love is written by the Irish Graphic Design David Airey. In this one of a kind design book, Airey brings the best parts of his wildly popular and successful blog – Logo Design Love to the printed page and makes them even better! (Impossible you say? I thought so to, I was quickly and quietly proven wrong)

In the book, Airey illustrates some of the best practices and real-world anecdotes for conceptualising and designing a great brand identity – that lasts. This design book is truly a must have for any of you designers out there who are serious about your career.

David Airey has been nice enough to share the whole first chapter of this amazing book on his website – all you’ve gotta do is subscribe to the mailing list. (which you should want to do anyway)

You can get the first chapter for free here.
You can view more pictures of the book here. You can buy the book from here.

Drawn to Business by William A. Beachy
(Founder of Go Media)

Drawn to Business by WIlliam A Beachy Go Media - Design Books
Drawn to Business is strategy guide to building a thriving design firm. It includes all the nuts and bolts needed to build a substantially design studio. Not so much a “Design Book” but very helpful if your intending on starting out on your own as a freelancer to eventually build your freelance business into a thriving corporation.

It gives a look into the processes Beachy used to start and build his world-famous design firm Go Media. With the help of nearly 15 owners of various highly successful design studios, Drawn to Business is filled from front to back cover with tips, tricks, tales and stories to teach you the foundations needed and the best practices of running your very own professional design services firm.

You can download a free chapter of Drawn to Business from here.
You can pick up your copy of Drawn to Business from here.

Just My Type by Simon Garfield

Just My Type - A Book About Fonts - Design Book
Just My Type by Simon Garfield is a must own for any typographic enthusiast and if your a designer you should already own it. It’s everything you need to know about type, fonts and using type in your designs. It’s genre is not obvious, part-history textbook, part design manual and part stand-up comedy.

Just My Type is a book of stories and tales about typefaces and fonts. It examines the impact that historic fonts such Helvetica (Watch this movie – It will change you) and the dreadful Comic Sans took over the world. It contains explanations as to why we are still influenced by type choices made over 500 years ago and why the “T” in The Beatles logo is longer than the other letters. With profiles for the great originators of type from Baskerville to Zapf, as well as people like Neville Brody who binned the rulebook to type.

This book is about that pivotal moment when fonts left the world of Letraset and were loaded onto computers and typefaces became something we realised we all have an opinion about.

This book reveals what may be the very best and worst fonts in the world – and what your choice of font… says about you!

Pick it up today from Amazon

Things I have learned in my life so far – Stefan Sagmeister
(Co-Founder of Sagmeister & Walsh)

Stefan Sagmeister - Things i have learned in my life so far - Design Books
Stefan Sagmeister of Sagmeister & Walsh is a pinnacle of this centuries designers. Always breaking boundaries and expectations and doing some down right wacky-doo-dah stunts for the sake of Design. Things I have learned in my life so far began as a list Sagmeister drafted out in his personal diary under the same title. This list included statements such as “Worrying Solves Nothing” and “Trying to look good limits my life.” The list revealed something that is profoundly true: Although human beings have been pursuing happiness for countless generations, it is not so easily achieved and we need constant reminders to keep us on the right path!

With the support of his clients, Sagmeister transformed these short sentences into stunning typographic works from billboards in France to sign-toting inflatable monkeys on the streets of Scotland. The design book accompanies essays from design historian Steven Heller, Guggenheim chief curator Nancy Spector, and UK psychologist Daniel Nettle as well as Sagmeister’s own words.

The series is revealed as a complex blend of personal revelation, art and design. An Electric mix of visual audacity and sound advice.

If your serious about your career in this industry. Buy it, Frame it, Pray to it and Take from it!

You can pick up your copy of Things I have Learned in my life so far by Stefan Sagmeister from here.

Graphic Design: A User’s Manual by Adrian Shaughnessy

Graphic Design - A User's Manual Design Book by Adrian Shaughnessy
Graphic Design: A User’s Manual is about as much of a must have as any other book on this list. It is the utmost survival guide for Designers offering students, novice designers and batlle-toughened professionals alike an insider’s guide to the complexities of current graphic design and process thinking. It contains all you need to know to survive and prosper in the complex, ever-shifting world of Graphic Design. Set out in an A-Z style and written in a realistic conversational and insightful way.

If you ever get stuck in your career and have a question you need an answer for, your going to be wanting this book right beside you. It is an indispensable and irreplaceable design book you should have bought before you even considered becoming a Graphic Designer. The book provides advice on the fundamental topics and issues that real life designers face in their daily lives. It looks at everything from kerning your type to presenting your work, from budgeting to dealing with rejection, from annual reports to user interface design.

Adrian Shaughnessy is also the author of “How to be a Graphic Designer without losing your soul” Which we will talk about next!

You can purchase Graphic Design: A User’s Manual from Amazon here.

How to be a Graphic Designer without losing your soul by Adrian Shaughnessy

How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul by Adrian Shaughnessy - Design Books
How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul is a book about the hidden necessities of every graphic design business like how to find work and how much to charge.

In this design book, Shaughnessy covers the issues every design studio faces like what we mentioned above and what to do when a client rejects three weeks of work and refuses to pay the bill!

It addresses the concerns of every young designer who wants to earn a living by doing expressive and meaningful work and who want to avoid becoming hired drones working on soulless projects. Written by a designer for designers. It combines the practical advice needed with philosophical guidance to help young professionals embark on their careers.

How should designers manage the creative process? What’s the first step in the successful interpretation of a brief? How do you generate ideas when everything just seems blank? How to be a graphic designer offers clear, concise guidance for these questions along with focused, no-nonsense strategies for setting up, running and promoting a graphic design studio, finding work and collaborating with clients.

The book also includes inspiring interviews with ten leading designers including; Randy VanderLans (Emigre), John Warwicker (Tomato), Neville Brody (Research Studios) and Andy Cruz (House Industries). How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul covers just about every aspect of the profession and stands as an indispensable guide for any young designer.

Pick up your copy of How to be a Graphic Designer from Amazon for less than $20.

What Every Business Needs and How by AGDA

What Every Business Needs & How - Design Book by AGDA
What every business needs and how is not really a design book – it’s more a very small and simple guide to how Design can help further any business – no matter what the industry.

It was demonstrated by the reaction from designers around Australia. We are all against free-pitching and this booklet is targeted to both the designer and the client and talks about the process with which creative work can be commissioned for. It is a must have for every designer and client – and designer, be sure to pick-up a spare copy to give to clients who just do not understand the value of great design.

If your an AGDA Member you should have got a free copy of this indispensable booklet in Agenda #33 back in 2013.

If you are not a member of AGDA than you can pick up your own copy for $10 from the AGDA Website here.


And that just about wrap’s it up for our post on Every Design Book we think you should read and own.

If you’ve got any books we’ve missed – leave them in the comments below and we’ll be sure to pick them up, have a crack at them and leave a review.

Dont forget to check out a few of our other posts!

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