Quincy, Illinois Graphic Design by Travis Hoffman | What books are in my personal graphic design library?
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AAGD; What Books are in my Personal Design Library

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This week’s question comes from Gary M. A fellow designer and Professor of Graphic Design at a local college. Gary asks;


What books are in your personal design library?


First off, thanks for the question Gary, and not only that, but thanks for being what I consider to be one of the best graphic design instructor’s in the area. It’s rare to see a graphic design teacher who truly knows the profession and fights the good fight trying to inspire their students to achieve great things and realize that true design isn’t just a job title, or profession, but a way of thinking and approaching life.


Anyways, to answer your question, I have somewhat of a small personal library in my opinion. However, I do intend for it to continue to grow in the future. Most of my college’s graphic communications curriculum was focused far too heavy on how to use programs within the Adobe Creative Suite as well as Quark (groan), rather than the fundamental principles of graphic design. It wasn’t until I entered my second job out of college that I began to see the holes in my education. I was fortunate to work as a production artist along side some really great and inspiring designers all who continue to do great work today for various companies. One of these people was Josh Boston. I forget the exact circumstance or occasion, but one day Josh printed off a simple 11×17 piece of paper containing a simple grid layout of the pictures and titles of what I seem to remember being roughly 10-12 design books to which he had inserted the headline “Graphic Design Steroid System”, or if not exactly that, something very similar to that.


At that point in life I was living in Saint Louis, paying off a new car (which is hindsight was a ridiculous purchase when I still had a Honda Civic with decent mileage) and paying rent for an apartment that was way nicer than I needed. At the end of the day I was barely squeaking by with my finances. Most of the books I was really eyeing typically cost between $50 to $100 so it was tough to allocate the funds sometimes. Eventually though I took Josh’s suggestions, one by one I began acquiring the books he recommended. The first book I purchased was Grid Systems in Graphic Design by Josef Muller-Brockmann. My mind was blown, somehow i managed to make it through college without being taught anything about the Grid. That book totally changed the way I saw the world, how every inch of every space was potentially a canvas that could be structured and organized.


Eventually the following titles were added:


Typographie: A Manual of Design by Emil Ruder


It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be: The World’s best selling book by Paul Arden


Graphic Design Manual: Principle and Practice by Armin Hofmann


How To Be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul by Adrian Shaughnessy


79 Short Essays on Design by Michael Bierut


Adrian Frutiger: Forms and Counterforms by Adrian Frutiger


The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst


Making and Breaking the Grid: A Graphic Design Layout Workshop by Timothy Samara


How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer by Debbie Millman


Graphic Design Time Line: A Century of Design Milestones by Steven Heller


100 Habits of Successful Graphic Designers by Josh Berger, Sarah Dougher and Plazm


Massin by Laetitia Wolff


Type: Design, Color, Character and Use by Michael Beaurmont


Pantone Guide to Communicating With Color by Leatrice Eisemann


Now, I may be missing a few from the list, but that’s the majority. For some reason about 8 years ago I stopped buying as many books, not really sure why. It is my goal to get back into the habit of developing my personal design library. Thanks so much for the question Gary, I’d love to know which books are in your own library as well. That goes for any other designers reading this post. I’d love to hear about it in the comments!


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