Truth Creative Director, Darren Scott takes us through the 15 books that helped shape his career and still influence the way he approaches projects to this day.
Before I list my books I would first like to note, this is not my list of the greatest design books ever written. It is not even a list of my own personal favourites. There are many seminal books featuring inspirational designers that I value equally if not more dearly. This is a list of books that have had the most profound influence on how I personally approach design every day. I am sure your own lists would be very different but equally personal.
Here are my 15 books in no particular order:
The Graphic Language of Neville Brody
by Jon Wozencroft
This 1988 bestseller was quite simply the reason I became a graphic designer. Brody was the most influential graphic designer of the 1980s. His work made me realise that I actually wanted to experiment with graphic layouts and create my own typefaces, rather than pursuing a career as an architect. His experimental letterforms made me really want to understand more about the rules he was breaking, which eventually led me to 'Stop Stealing Sheep'.
Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works
by Erik Spiekermann
If Brody first showed me how to challenge convention, then this book taught me what the rules should be. Erik and his work at his studio Meta Design really taught me to be desciplined and have standards. Meta really opened my eyes to corporate identity in my college years, their function-first approach and attention to typographic really appealed to me.
If you use type — and these days, almost everyone does — Spiekermann’s engaging, common-sense style will help you understand how to look at type, work with type, choose the best typeface for your message, and express yourself more effectively through design. Compact, yet rich with anecdotes and visual examples, the handbook’s multi-layered design not only makes for a fun, fast read; it also invites exploration, ensuring you learn something new each and every time you open it up.
Letraset 1986 Graphic Design Handbook
Issued in 1986 this reference book is a compilation of Letraset type specimens, featuring the most famous or decorative types from the 1960s to the 1980s. This really was an invaluable inspiration when first learning about typography and type design in my college years.
Trademarks & Symbols
by Yasaburo Kuwayama
Yasaburo Kuwayama created a series of these books in the 1970s. They depict thousands of graphic marks and motifs used by businesses and institutions throughout the world. They are an amazing historical reference categorised differently across each volume. I am lucky enough to own a signed copy of Volume One.
The End of Print: Graphic Design of David Carson
by Lewis Blackwell and David Carson
David Carson's work in this book marked the beginning of a hugely influencial wave of ‘Grunge’ design and typography. David was the first graphic design ‘Rockstar’ and represented a seminal period in Graphic Design that changed everything and the rules really went out of the window.
His work and approach for clients like Transworld Skateboarding, Surfer, Beach Culture and Ray Gun – as well as his instantly recognisable advertisements for clients such as Nike, Pepsi, MTV and Sony gave birth to a whole new generation of designers.
Language & Typography
by Cal Swann
This book introduces basic linguistic theories and provides a framework for the more informed and creative use of language by designers. This book really helped me understand the science and emotion, behind selecting the appropriate typeface for the message you are trying to communicate. Although this book will be visually unappealing to designers having very few visuals, it is an essential read for anyone responsible for setting type or choosing typefaces.
by Allan Haley
This textbook from the early eighties was a great reference tool for me after being given to me by a former lecturer who taught me so much about the importance typography early on. It covers the essentials of typesetting and the anatomy of letterforms. It is obviously not as relevant in the world of the Mac, but many of the basic principles are still valid today.
Grid Systems in Graphic Design
by Josef Mülller-Brockmann
This book is essential the essential Swiss design manual. If like me you are a lover of the Swiss design style, grid systems and the Akzidenz Grotesk typeface then this is the bible.
Wim Crouwel Alphabets Paperback
by Kees Broos and David Quay
During his lengthy career, the Dutch master created so many experimental alphabets that continue to inspire type designers to this day. Wim’s designs are created using structured grids and are strikingly geometric. I was lucky enough to work with Wim on Truth’s beautiful 5th birthday poster in 2011.
Josef Muller-Brockmann: A Pioneer of Swiss Graphic Design
by Lars Muller
Josef Muller-Brockman was the godfather of Swiss Graphic Design and this book contains his finest work. Many of the most influential posters ever created are contained within this book.
Profile: Pentagram Design
by Michael Bierut
Pentagram, founded in 1972, is one of the best known and most influential graphic, product, and architectural design firms in the world. Its partners are distinguished members of the international design community, consistently generating award-winning work of the highest quality.
Profile not only sheds light on 19 individual talents, but also provides a comprehensive overview of the legendary firm that has influenced the course of design for over 30 years.
by Steven Heller and Jessica Helfand
Paul Rand was a pioneering figure in American graphic design and in particular corporate identity. Adopting what he called a 'problem-solving' approach his way of working is still the way I try to work today. As a design consultant to businesses including IBM, Olivetti, Ford and Steve Jobs’ legendary Next Computers, he was a major influence in the field of graphics and visual communication.
by Wally Olins
Brands and branding are the most significant contributions that commerce has ever made to popular culture. But branding has now moved so far beyond its commercial origins that consumer response has entered uncharted territory. Wally Olins sets out the ground rules for branding success in the 21st century, explaining why understanding the links between business, brand and consumer has never been more vital for commercial success. It will be an essential purchase for everyone in advertising, marketing and business who needs to understand why the most successful brands in the world triumph by making insiders believe in them - and consumers buy into them.
by Naomi Klein
The iconic ‘anti-brand’ slap in the face that defined a generation when it was first published in 1999. This book makes you look at brands, and brand design from the other side of the fence.
Founder / Creative Partner
Contact Darren at firstname.lastname@example.org