Chock full of design inspiration (the fourth and final part)

For the past few weeks, I’ve been writing about the books on my studio bookcase, why I bought them and how they inspire me. (Catch up on parts one, two, and three.) Here’s the fourth and final part.

My studio bookcase
My studio bookcase is chock-full of design inspiration. I hope you enjoyed reading about everything on it.
Mid-Century Ads

Jim Heimann and Steven Heller

Mid-Century Ads

I’m glad my bookcase is tall enough to fit this big coffee table anthology of advertising from the ’50s and ’60s. Between these two volumes, there are 700 pages of ads, all from the USA, and many of them from brands and products you won’t go shopping for today. The style of ads evolves between the ’50s and ’60s and both are very different from advertising today, especially their illustrations. It’s also fascinating to see so many typefaces not used often today.

Buy on Amazon

Now, some people will look at advertising from the ’50s and ’60s and criticise how advertisers sold cigarettes and portrayed women. Even though attitudes have changed, you’d be wrong to apply today’s morals to yesterday and then dismiss advertising from those periods out of hand. After-all, you don’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been.
D$AD14

D&AD14

D&AD (Design & Art Direction) is an advertising and design association famous for its Pencil awards, and we joined a few years ago. We certainly never made the most of our membership, but I’ve always enjoyed perusing work in their annuals. At £75, the most recent edition of this big book is’t cheap, but you can pick up older copies for £35 and don’t need to be a member to buy them.

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The Advertising Concept Book: Think Now, Design Later

Pete Barry

The Advertising Concept Book: Think Now, Design Later

“Think Now, Design Later” is fantastic advice and this is a fabulous book for anyone who wants to think more clearly about creative strategy, creating campaigns, generating ideas, and how to sell them. It’s a practical book with projects to work through and will help anyone who’s interested in art direction as well as advertising and design,

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Ogilvy on Advertising

David Ogilvy

Ogilvy on Advertising

David Ogilvy was a legend in the advertising world, having started with nothing and growing his agency—Ogilvy & Mather—to become one of the biggest advertising agencies in the world. Ogilvy wrote ‘on Advertising’ in 1983 and as he is still recognised as one of advertising’s best copywriters, the emphasis he puts on the importance of copy isn’t surprising. Of course, the world has changed since Ogilvy’s time and I can think of quite a few people who will be upset by him saying “The customer is not a moron. She’s your wife.” Still, outdated ideas or not, Ogilvy on Advertising is still a fascinating read, whether you’re interested in advertising or not.

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The Ten Principles Behind Great Customer Experiences

Matt Watkinson

The Ten Principles Behind Great Customer Experiences

I need to confess, I haven’t started reading this book, as it was leant to me by a client who thought I might find it interesting.

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The Coaching Manual

Julie Starr

The Coaching Manual

While I was working in Australia, I attended a couple of leadership and coaching courses. Honestly, I have no interest in leading, but I do really enjoy helping people develop their design careers. I suppose one of the benefits of age is collecting experiences and after running a business and working as a designer for over 20 years, I have plenty of that. I needed help with how to structure coaching sessions though and this covers the skills I need to be a more effective coach. I also think this book will benefit anyone who works in a team, whether you coach people or not.

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Hegarty on Advertising: Turning Intelligence into Magic

John Hegarty

Hegarty on Advertising: Turning Intelligence into Magic

While Ogilvy’s ideas on advertising might be less relevant today, Sir John Hegarty’s still are. Hegarty is the founder of advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) and some of his work includes campaigns for Levis—including the famous and ground-breaking launderette ads—, “Vorsprung Durch Technik” for Audi, and the “Cream Of Manchester” for Boddingtons. Interviewed in June this year, Hegarty wrote that, “Data is great at giving you information, giving you knowledge; but it doesn’t give you understanding and that is its great failing. What we need is greater creativity and what we’re doing today is reducing the power of creativity. Marketing, I believe, is suffering because of that; you’re not getting imaginative ideas that capture people’s imagination.” I could not agree with Hegarty more.

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Copywriting: Successful Writing for Design, Advertising and Marketing

Mark Shaw

Copywriting: Successful Writing for Design, Advertising and Marketing

Ask me what anyone new to design should prioritise learning and my first answer will always be to improve your writing. It really doesn’t matter whether you write for advertising, marketing, or micro-copy in products, good writing skills are essential, and this book will help you to develop them.

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Mentoring Manual

Julie Starr

The Mentoring Manual

I bought this Mentoring Manual—written by the author of ‘The Coaching Manual’—to help me as I develop my designers mentoring program. I’ve been mentoring several designers over the past few months and while much of the process comes quite naturally to me, I wanted to know about how to structure a mentoring program and make sure my mentees get the most from it. From the feedback I’ve received had so far, this little book has already helped a lot.

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On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition

William Zinsser

On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition

You’ve probably spotted it already, this section of my bookcase is where I keep my books on writing. This updated edition of the classic ‘On Writing Well’ well deserves its place. In fact, I doubt I would’ve been able to write four books without it.

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Pitching Ideas: Make People Fall in Love with your Ideas

Jeroen van Geel

Pitching Ideas: Make People Fall in Love with your Ideas

I have another ‘Hardboiled Web Design’ Shot planned for next year and this time I’ll be writing about about how to sell creative ideas. The content of this new book will be drawn from my experiences working in creative services for 25 years and I will be interviewing graphic, print, UX, and web designers to understand how they approach the process of presenting ideas to their bosses, clients, and other stakeholders. I bought ‘Pitching Ideas’ as part of my research but have only skimmed it up until now.

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Seducing Strangers

Joshua Weltman

Seducing Strangers

Josh Weltman is an advertising consultant and he created campaigns for clients including BMW, Doritos, Microsoft, and Whole Foods. However, that’s not what made his name familiar, to me at least. Weltman was co-producer of Mad Men, alongside Matthew Weiner, and he no doubt played an enormous role in directing Don Draper’s famous pitches. If you’re like me and want to learn how to sell like Don, this could be just the book.

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The Elements of Style

William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White

The Elements of Style

There are two books on writing that absolutely everyone should own. One is William Zinsser’ ‘On Writing Well,’ the other is this, Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. I’ve lost track of how many copies of this book I’ve bought and then given away to clients and colleagues. If you’re short of present ideas for this coming Christmas, order a dozen copies and give them away, making sure you keep one copy for yourself.

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That’s it, the end of this series on the books on my studio bookcase. I shipped many of these books to Australia and back and I bought many more while I was out there. In fact, books were the heaviest and costliest things to transport. I was surprised that—despite the company recommending a book for staff to read each quarter—the entire Ansarada office had just one small, token shelving unit in reception and there was nowhere for designers to keep any books.

So I bought a bookcase to display my collection but I was soon surprised that none of the product or marketing designers picked up a book, let alone added something new to the shelves. Several times, I bought multiple copies of books and magazines and gave them away as I thought they might inspire Ansarada designers to think more creatively about the things they were making. Sadly, no one seemed interested and it quickly became obvious that inspiration in book form was far less important to other people than it is for me.

I found that very sad as I still love buying, collecting, and reading physical books. Having a bookcase close to my desk encourages me to pick up books regularly, for inspiration as well as information. Somehow, digital editions and websites don’t inspire me in the same way. Books can be beautiful objects and easily begin transforming a bland office space into an inspiring one. I simply cannot imagine a creative space without books and I hope this series on my collection has inspired you to buy more.

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Available from January 2019

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