Chock-full of design inspiration (part 2)

After I posted a photograph of my updated shelves on Twitter, several people asked about the books I’ve collected. Last week I started writing about them (catch up on part one) and here’s part two.

My studio bookcase
My studio bookcase is chock-full of design inspiration.
Color Chart: Reinventing Color, 1950 to Today

Ann Temkin

Color Chart: Reinventing Color, 1950 to Today

You don’t need to go to London for an amazing art exhibition and our local galleries in Liverpool and Manchester often have interesting shows. Around this time in 2008, Sue and I stumbled into ‘Color Chart: Reinventing Color, 1950 to Today’ in Liverpool and were blown away by it. Damien Hirst has always been a favourite, but we were amazed by Scottish artist Jim Lambie. Lambie’s known for his installation work, particularly using stripes of coloured tape on gallery floors, making every piece temporary and unique. (See below)

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Jim Lambie installation
Jim Lambie installation. (Photo credit: The Tatler)
The Art Directors’ Handbook of Professional Magazine Design

Horst Moser

The Art Directors’ Handbook of Professional Magazine Design

When you’re short on inspiration or you want to learn about grid design and layout techniques, print magazines are a fabulous place to start looking and learning. If you’re at all interested in art direction and magazine design this is good primer on typography including captions, headline and standfirst combinations, and initial letters. The rest of the book is divided into designs for themes like fashion, food and drink, and travel.

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Information Made Beautiful Infographic Design

Sendpoints

Information Made Beautiful, Infographic Design

Art direction’s about using design to convey information in ways which connect with people, and data visualisation and graphic design are often part of that. I started studying data visualisation in a lot of detail while in Australia, bought several books, and started experimenting with my own projects to help me learn.

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The Modern Magazine: Visual Journalism in the Digital Era

Jeremy Leslie

The Modern Magazine: Visual Journalism in the Digital Era

This book includes more inspiration than instruction, but it does include some good advice on designing systems which allow for creativity and flexibility while maintaining a consistent brand, look and feel.

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Making and Breaking the Grid

Timothy Samara

Making and Breaking the Grid

I first bought a copy of this book ten years ago and the latest edition last year. Both versions have influenced my understanding of layout which in turn influenced my writing in Art Direction for the Web. It covers page anatomy—which is relevant to the web and print—using grids to design systems, and how to use those systems with designs being based on them becoming formulaic.

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Layout Essentials: 100 Design Principles for Using Grids

Beth Tondreau

Layout Essentials: 100 Design Principles for Using Grids

If you’re looking for a packed primer on layout, this would be a great choice. As with all my books on grid design, this one deals primarily with print, but almost all the principles are just as valuable if you design for the web. In fact, I think the print-based principles are far more valuable than the book’s section on ‘Website Basics’ which uses a very uninspiring 2008 design for the New York Times.

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The Designer and the Grid

Lucienne Roberts and Julia Thrift

The Designer and the Grid

This book is difficult to follow, which is odd, but it does contain a mildly interesting history of grid design. Most of the examples are dated, especially the section on digital design which shows AOL mobile portal on a series of Nokia 3110s. While not a bad book, there are plenty of better ones, so this might not last much longer on my bookcase.

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Modern Dog: 20 Years of Poster Art

Mike Strassburger and Robynne Raye

Modern Dog: 20 Years of Poster Art

I know very little about Modern Dog Design, except they’re based in Seattle and I didn’t know that when I picked this up at a bookshop in the Metreon, San Francisco, in June 2008. It includes 20 years of Modern Dog’s poster work, and my only complaint is I wish that some examples had been reproduced larger.

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Art Direction Explained, At Last!

Steven Heller and Veronique Vienne

Art Direction Explained, At Last!

Curiously, there are very few books which explain the fundamentals of art direction, which is one of the reasons I wrote my own. This book is divided into two sections; one driven by the authors, the other from art directors who share their experience. Their focus is mainly on editorial art direction—that suits me fine—and there’s plenty to apply to the web with a little imagination.

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IdN Extra 07: Infographics—Designing Data

IdN Extra 07

Infographics—Designing Data

Not a book, but issue 7 of IdN Extra magazine which is devoted to infographics and designing data. I bought five copies in my favourite magazine store in Sydney and gave the rest to the designers I was working with for inspiration.

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Numbers in Graphic Design

Roger Fawcett-Tang

Numbers in Graphic Design

Numbers are an important part of websites and products, but they rarely get much attention and it seems to me that most web designers are content with Bootstrap-esque styling. Fawcett-Tang did a good job balancing numbers in documents, graphics, infographics, and the physical world. He also included inspirational examples from, among others, Stefan Sagmeister.

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Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe

Tim Leong

Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe

Think about The Hulk. Every wondered what percentage his purple pants are to his green skin? Want a chart of which characters in The Walking Dead were killed by a human or a zombie? Or, how long comic characters stayed dead? This book on data visualisation uses comic book data as source and inspiration. It’s brilliantly done and every comic-loving designer should own a copy. Leong followed this up last year with Star Wars Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to a Galaxy Far, Far Away, which is now on my wish list.

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Inside spread from Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe
‘Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe’ by Tim Leong
Basics Design: Layout

Gavin Ambrose and Paul Harris

Basics Design: Layout

This little book was the first I bought to learn more about designing layout and while there are now much better books available—in particular Making and Breaking the Grid—somehow I still kept it around.

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Hall of Femmes Ruth Ansel

Hall of Femmes

Ruth Ansel

While I was researching the work of Harper’s Bazaar art director Bea Feitler, I came across this little book about her long-time collaborator and fellow art director Ruth Ansel. It’s published by Swedish cooperative Hall of Femmes, which “aims to highlight the work of women in creative industries through books and events.” It covers Ansel’s most important creative work and my only complaint is that the book is only 72 pages and I wish it were bigger and longer.

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Thoughts on Design

Paul Rand and Michael Bierut

Thoughts on Design

Speaking of small reprints about the work of one of the most influential designers, this 2014 reprint of Paul Rand’s 1947 essay. I would love to find a good 1960s or ’70s copy and would pay handsomely for it.

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Ugly Is Only Skin-Deep

Dominik Imseng

Ugly Is Only Skin-Deep: The Story of the Ads That Changed the World

Doyle Dane Bernbach’s advertising for the Volkswagen Beetle in the ’60s is considered to be the campaign which changed the advertising industry, in no little part due to Bill Bernbach establishing creative teams of art directors and copywriters who worked together. This book tells the story of that campaign, how it developed, and how it’s influenced designers ever since.

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That’s the end of the second section of my bookcase, once again chock-full of design inspiration. This bookcase is still bulging, so next week, I’ll write about what’s in the next sections and how these books and magazines inspire me.

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Stuff & Nonsense Ltd.
Eversleigh, Lon Capel
Gwaenysgor
Flintshire, North Wales
LL18 6EJ, UK