My Book Recommendations for Inspiration.

31 07 2009

As designers we’re visual people, we conceptualize and we’ve always got that daydream stare going on for us. It doesn’t mean that I don’t readily enjoy the conversation you’re having with me, it’s more so I’m looking at the colors of your sunglasses perched upon your head and I’m trying to figure out how I can use them in one of my latest designs.

For the most part we’re all sponges, soaking up as much information as possible. Though for me, information doesn’t just lie in a big book of 12 point times new roman font that’s flush left, that has no pictures. Information for me lies in all things visual. Whether that be magazines, motion graphics, picture books, cartoons, things in nature. Anything and everything has some appeal one way or another.

Though one of my number one resources I go to when I need inspiration are books. Any type of book for that matter – hell I’m rereading Interview with a Vampire and I kid you not I got inspired to design based on the plot alone. Creativity is everywhere and sometimes when we’re stressed we don’t always seem to find it, and other times it just finds us unexpectedly. Though to help ease those of you who don’t find it as often as most of us would like, I’ve compiled a list of books that seem to get my mind turning. I’ve also got a couple of suggestions for where to pull creativity from, it doesn’t always have to be in book form, but we need a starting point.

1. Caffeine for the Creative Mind: 250 Exercises to wake up your brain.
This book is by far one of the most helpful resources as a designer that I personally enjoy. It’s a book where you can literally just open it up and whatever page you’re on you can go from there. It’s jam packed with exercises that may sound childish, but that’s what it’s suppose to be like. I think for the most part it’s trying to tap into your inner child’s way of thinking. Remember as a kid when we use to make stuff without boundaries? This is the book with no boundaries, it’s also a book to help you break away from the boundaries we set when we’re in that designer state of mind.

2. The Non-Designer’s Design Book.
Wait, before you bombard me with ‘Hey DEF, what gives? I thought you were a designer!’ I am. Though this is always a good reference when I forget certain design elements. It’s a good visual representation of what good/bad design is. Even though it may be more focused on typography (I’ve taken 5 typography courses it’s pretty much programmed into me) it teaches you about C.R.A.P – though you’ll have to read the book to figure out what C.R.A.P is. Pretty awesome acronym to remember basic design principals.

3. Design Basics Index
This book is basically the rules of design and you know the saying that once you know all the design rules you can break them. This one has lots of visuals of how to – from composition to typography, to layout. This is an overall view on design. I like it for the visuals and for the reminder of making bold design, because let’s face it we’ve all designed something crappy because we didn’t know what to do with it and it just didn’t look right.

4. Forms, Folds, Sizes
If you’re like me, remembering certain sizes for different projects can be a tedious thing. Mind you I don’t really remember all the sizes for certain pieces, I mean I usually design on 8 1/2 x 11, unless otherwise stated. So if you’re like me and you can’t remember how big a business card is, or certain abbreviations that are vital in design – this book is definitely for you. It talks about typography, mailing labels, different sizes and dimensions, packaging, substrates, and printing. Things that some if not most of us didn’t learn in design school. This book is serious if you don’t want to end up with a headache for being a couple centimeters off.

5. Graphic Design: A Concise History
Let’s face it, history repeats itself. That being said, this book goes through the history of graphic design. From Japanese woodblock printing to Bauhaus, Art Noveau, The Arts and Crafts Movement, Surrealism, etc this book is taking all that history and condensing it down with visuals. What better way than to borrow from the past? Who knows you could always end up making your own movement of Noveau Surrealism (hm, I like that term, definitely gonna coin it) it’s the past that helps us design today, where we draw inspiration from as well. It’s how we reinvent what is given to us.

6. How to Make Books
If you’re like me and can’t sit at the computer for very long without wanting to be tactile, this is the book for you. Not only does it give you a new way to construct books, I believe it is offset pressed which gives it that handmade feel to it, which I personally like. It teaches you different techniques from your basic saddle stitch to making books with one piece of paper. It’s great stuff to spark creativity.

7. Breaking Into Graphic Design
This book is basically taking into account of what employers are looking for and how to obtain work. It’s more so on a Q and A basis, but it has real vital information that I happened to find useful. How to go about searching for a job, getting yourself out there, etc.

8. Time Management for the Creative Person
I’ve already done a review on this book alone, but I think I’ll emphasis again how much time one can save if just reading this book. I’m personally still working on this, it’s a book to read more than once and it doesn’t give you that left brain approach to time management. It’s more so creative and tailored towards the artistic way of thinking. It’s filled with a bunch of quizzes and tests, which kept me entertained as well as learning more about the way I do things and why I do them that way. Real good book if you want to save yourself the headache of being a procrastinator.

9. The Art of Looking Sideways
All right, so this book could probably injure someone if they were trying to jack your laptop, but nonetheless it’s filled with a ton of visuals. Every time I open this book I’m usually brought to something new, seeing as you can’t merely just flip from page to page (or well you could if you really wanted to). It’s just one of those books where you can jump in from any page and go with that.

10. How to be an Explorer of The World
This one was a pretty ironic find for me. I happened to be browsing through the children’s section of the bookstore (what better way to get inspired by trying to relive your childhood?) nonetheless, I found this book and figured I’d take a gander at it. At first it made me wonder what this book was doing in a children’s section of a bookstore, for one it seems exactly like something a graphic designer could be asking for. Then I figured the whimsical aspect of being a gatherer/explorer does tap into being a kid. Then I figured it out, I’ve never stopped collecting things since I was a child, and maybe that’s where the two meshed together. Though if you’re looking for a renewed sense of fun (you do remember what fun is right?) then definitely pick this book up, you’ll be happy you did.