10 Fantastic E-books for Graphic Designers

  I have a little motto that I like to live by: Always go to bed smarter than when you woke up. This applies to almost every facet of my life, especially to my career. As a graphic designer, it is essential to always keep learning if you want to stay ahead of the curve. Technology is always making it easier to keep up with the trends. We can browse online for interesting articles and tutorials, we can listen to design-related podcasts, and thanks to the multitude of e-readers available in the marketplace, even reading books has made a high-tech resurgence. I am of course talking about Ebooks.

Having just written two graphic design e-books myself, I did quite a bit of research to see what else was out there, and it turns out that there are many, many unique and helpful titles to choose from. So check them out, load up your Kindle (or e-reader of choice,) and start learning!

The Business Side of Creativity: The Complete Guide to Running a Small Graphics Design or Communications Business

By Cameron S. Foote

This is the book I read when I decided to unshackle myself from my last corporate design job and go out on my own. It is an incredibly handy guide that goes over almost everything you need to know to start your own successful graphic design studio. Hailed by one reviewer as the creative business "bible," and considered the authoritative book on the subject for over ten years, The Business Side of Creativity is revised to include even more invaluable facts, tips, strategies, and advice for beginning creatives.

Work for Money, Design for Love

By David Airey

Different from most design business books, David Airey takes a different approach by answering some of the most frequently asked questions of designers just starting out. He answers the questions with anecdotes, case studies and from his own personal experience.

Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills

By David Sherwin

Not looking for an e-book about the business of design? Then this one might be more your cup of tea. In this book, you will find 80 creative challenges that are designed to make you a stronger designer. They are meant to be performed in order, as each lesson builds upon the last. It covers exercises in various disciplines, such as web design, logo design and print design, and assigns a timeframe in which to complete each task.

Get Graphic Design Clients: Pro-tips for Landing, Impressing & Keeping the Good Ones

By Wes McDowell

This e-book gets right down to the business of how graphic and web designers can find quality clients, as well as what they can do to actually attract the good clients to them. But it doesn’t stop there. The book goes much further in-depth and shows you how to work with your clients throughout the entire design process to keep them on board with your creative ideas, and how to impress them enough that they turn into repeat clients.

How to Be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul

By Adrian Shaughnessy

As the title implies, this book isn’t just about the business of being a designer. It goes a little deeper, and also focuses on the philosophies of what it means to be a designer. Social responsibilities and ethical business practices are also brought up, and the author provides clear guidance throughout the book.

Rock Your Portfolio Website

By Wes McDowell & Joseph Bergess

This title is especially helpful for designers who want to make the most of their online portfolio. While most books and articles on the subject focus heavily on what your site should look like, this book goes even further, and actually shows you strategies that you can implement on any portfolio site, which are designed to paint you in a more flattering light in front of clients. The main thrust of the book is to position yourself as more of a “creative expert” rather than just “another designer.” On a side note, since using most of the strategies found in this book, my own business has never been busier.

Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities

By David Airey

Much more than just another collection of cool logos, this e-book acts as more of a guide, showing us how some of these amazing logos were created. The thought process, and every step of the way is covered in easy to understand language, so even logo design newbies will get a lot out of it.

Before & After: How to Design Cool Stuff

By John McWade

While this book is a few years old, and some of the featured projects are showing some signs of age, the principles that are illustrated using these works still hold true today. You will learn how to think like a designer, and how to transform what you see in your head into something tangible on the page.

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People

By Susan Weinschenk

One of the most important lessons a designer can learn is how to design with the correct audience in mind. What will they respond to? What will hold their attention? How do you motivate people to take action? These questions and many more are answered in this book, giving you the power to make much more informed design decisions. And informed decisions ultimately lead to a successful design.

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

By Austin Kleon

Think you learned everything about being a graphic designer in art school? Think again, my friend. This book sheds some new light on subjects they never touched on. One of the main themes focuses on the fact that there really are no new ideas. So it’s okay to fully embrace the influence of others who have come before you, to remix, reinvent and reimagine what others have done in order to find your distinct voice as a designer.

Final Thoughts

Many of these e-books focus on radically different aspects of what it takes to be a successful graphic designer. That’s great, because it allows us to fill in our “blind spots,” and focus on where we need the most help. Maybe you’re exceedingly creative, but have no idea how to start your own studio. Or maybe the opposite is true. In either case, there’s a book for whatever your design shortcoming.

Have you read any of the e-books on this list? Or do you have any others that I didn’t include that I should have? Leave your recommended reading suggestions in the comment section below!

Wes McDowell is the Principal and Creative Director for The Deep End Web Design in Los Angeles. In addition to client work, he has authored several books for freelance designers and co-hosts a popular graphic design podcast called “The Deeply Graphic DesignCast.” Follow Wes on Google+. Visit his website to learn more.

Wes McDowell – who has written posts on Artatm – Creative Art Magazine.

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