Best! Books! Ever! (Part 2!)

Best! Books! Ever! (Part 2!)

Again, Andrea Dunham and I are on a crusade to solicit your thoughts on the one design book you make sure to keep handy at your desk (or night table, if you're really into it...). Before polling the masses, I took one more swipe at getting my fellow SpotCo colleagues to weigh in. 

Andrea and I are aiming for 100 designers (and however many books that ends up giving us), so here are numbers 6 though 10, including my selection.


6. Few books offer such a clear path forward for creative types than It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be by Paul Arden. I often look to this book for advice on navigating the stormy seas of content creation, career development, and client management. Though Arden can come off a bit pompous at times, How Good You Want to Be is filled with sage advice for design, advertising, or any creative profession and its practical application.

                                                                  --Darren Cox, Art Director; SpotCo


7. For me, Graphic Style: From Victorian to Digital, by Steven Heller and Seymour Chwast, is probably the first book that I've made sure to keep copies of at home, at my office and in the design department library. And it's definitely at the top of my shopping list for both my MFA and undergrad students at SVA. Graphic Style concisely sums up all of the important periods of design from Victorian to the digital age with a concise column of text for each and beautiful examples. It's an easy book to flip through when you're not quite sure you're referencing the right period on a project.

                                   --Gail Anderson, Creative Director of Design; SpotCo


8. As far as I'm concerned, Doyald Young is a typographic god. His drool-worthy (yet incredibly practical) book entitled Fonts & Logos is my go-to source for inspiration. Mr. Young has been teaching lettering and logo design at Art Center in Pasadena since the mid 1950's and his approach to logos and letterforms is timeless. This beautifully designed book begins with the basics: type classification, parts of a letter, relationships between letters, weight, etc... and by the end will leave you completely in awe of (and inspired by) Doyald's elegant yet economical monograms and logotypes. Doyald Young is one of those classic, old-school, master typographers who I aspire to be like. Whenever I need a slap back into the world of simplicity or just want to take a time-out to behold pure typographic beauty, I turn off the computer and pick this up.

                                                             --Dana Tanamachi, Designer; SpotCo


9. One of my go to books for inspiration is Counterprint by Karel Martens. I purchased it after doing a workshop with Karel my Junior year of College and still find it to be one of the most unique and refreshing books I own. Counterprint (which reads more like a refined sketchbook) is a collection of Martens' personal work and print experiments full of graphic shapes and bold colors. His compositions are full of found objects like metallic washers, stencils and scraps of paper. It is rejuvenating to look at work uncompromised and free of restraint and definitely helps to motivate me to look at things from a fresh perspective. 

                                 --Rebecca Simnowitz, Designer; SpotCo


10. A recent discovery of mine that has proved invaluable is Rookledge's Classic International Typefinder by Christopher Perfect and Gordon Rookledge. Of all of the type reference books that I've seen, this one is organized beautifully in multiple categories. The best part for me would have to be the "special earmark tables", which let you look at dozens of different styles of a single letter, cross-referencing them with the typefaces that use that style of letter. While it might not have every typeface you're looking for, it has enough that I find it easier and more useful than any online reference.

                                                           --Joshua Hester, Designer; SpotCo

See the first five titles from the Best! Books! Ever! Series here, and visit our store here for all the SPD Essentials.

  • Gail Anderson

    They may seem obvious to you whippersnappers who had more book options--but the explosion of design books is a bigger deal to those of us "of a certain age." I hope there'll be some surprises for you as we continue to build the collection. Pleases send me your selection and I'll add it on...

    I have the Karel Martens book you referred to, and am sooo glad I bought it when I did. Once I realized how valuable it was, I brought that sucker HOME.

  • Mike Ley

    a lot of these books seem kind of obvious as we've all had them as textbooks, but i have to back up the karl martens book as one of my favorite books, period. the production and construction on that thing is amazing with the fold out poster cover and multiple spots. its unfortunate that its next to impossible to find a copy of his earlier monograph 'printed matter' for under $500 lately, which is even more inspiring.

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