15 Top Rated Books for Designers & Creatives

15 Top Rated Books for Designers & Creatives - Pixel Surplus

Most people love a good book – and we're no exception. We’ve hit the review section to hunt down the most beloved books in the creative field. These books range widely in style, topic and design but have the common trait of being highly recommended by thousands of people.



Pretty Much Everything – Draplin Design Co.

It seems obvious to start the list off with this one from Draplin Design Co. If you are just crawling out from under your rock, Pretty Much Everything has been receiving rave review since it’s release just over a year ago.

“Funny, philosophical, and down to earth. I only wish that more designers would put out material like this. This book is packed with quality behind the scenes photos, commentary, and the work itself”

“An inspirational kick in the pants”

Do yourself a favor and skip the Kindle edition on this one to make sure you get the full experience

Get The Book Here  –  4.7/5




In Progress – Jessica Hische

The lettering of Jessica Hische is iconic, now you can see the whole creative process from rough sketch right down to the finished piece.

“If you’ve read anything by Jessica you know she really knows her stuff. This book is beautiful and motivating.”

“This book is gorgeous! The paper is lush, and the entire book is full of beautiful touches, such as metallic inks. Her artwork is beautiful and the book showcases it beautifully.”

Get The Book Here  –  4.8/5




Burn Your Portfolio – Michael Janda

Kickstart your career with real life advice from Michael Janda who has run his own agency for over a decade. Burn Your Portfolio: Stuff they don’t teach you in design school, but should will help you learn from the successes and mistakes of others and advance your career quicker.

“Burn Your Portfolio is a refreshing no-nonsense guide for designers who are embarking on their career.”

“A voracious reader himself and a successful businessman, Michael Jonda conveys a wealth of knowledge accumulated through study and real world experience.”

Get The Book Here  –  4.5/5




Abstract Cities – Christoph Neimann

You may know Cristoph Neimann from his episode in the Netflix documentary series Abstract. His illustrations of everyday things are clever and humorous. A great visual experience.

“My world looks nothing like Niemann’s New York, how fun it is to see what he sees, one thing can look so much like another with only the slightest change. This is a brilliant book, done by an uncanny mind.”

Get The Book Here  –  4.7/5




Logo Design Love: A guide to creating iconic brand identities – David Airey

David Airey’s Logo Design Love: A guide to creating iconic brand identities is far more than a directory of logos. It’s filled with case studies, stories, in-process work, tips & guidance for brand designers all around.

“Designed as both a learning tool and a set of case studies, Airey bridges a wide array of logo examples with the creative thinking process of identity design.”

“It’s filled with fantastic information, not just for starting graphic designers such as myself, but for experienced professionals as well.”

Get The Book Here  –  4.7/5




Logo Modernism – Jens Müller

This book from Jens Müller includes a catalog of 6,000 trademarks as well as case studies, interviews and a review of the history of modernism in graphic design. An invaluable resources for designers, advertisers and branding specialists.

“The Quality is something incredible, this book is huge and heavy but I cannot be more happy, the book should be a must have for anybody who has interest in graphic and logo design.”

Get The Book Here  –  5/5





Creative Strategy and the Business of Design – Douglas Davis

This highly praised book from Douglas Davis teaches right-brain creatives essential business skills that are needed to be successful in the current design landscape.

“Finally there’s an in-depth guide to help designers, copywriters and others infuse strategic business-thinking into every piece of creative work”

“The content is not something you would expect to be taught at design schools. And it’s precisely because of that that this book is going to be helpful to creative professionals, especially those who have ambitions of creating work with greater impact.”

Get The Book Here  –  4.9/5




Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind – 99U

This book shares the experiences of a wide variety of creative professionals and gives you the guidelines and tools needed to be more efficient and make better use of your time in a world that is becoming more and more busy.

“Turn off your email, put your ringer on mute, and read this book right now. Manage Your Day-to-Day contains life-changing tips from the some of the smartest brains around.”

Manage Your Day-to-Day is an essential guidebook for navigating information overload and all the other complications and distractions of 21st century life.”

Get The Book Here  –  4.4/5




Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills – David Sherwin

Creative Workshop is filled with a huge selection of projects and tasks designed to make you flex your creative muscles – these time sensitive exercises will help you develop techniques and strategies that will help you approach new creative tasks with confidence.

“This book strikes me as a collection of exceedingly useful exercises; not just as a means for practice and exploration, but useful to developing designers in discovering processes that work best for them.”

“I especially enjoyed seeing the samples of other designers’ takes on the challenges. The workshops truly made my brain think outside of the box!”

Get The Book Here  –  4.5/5





Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age – Jeff Goins

Starving artists no more – Jeff Goins outlines myths about being creative that have stuck around far too long. Use his practical advice and strategies to thrive in your career.

“Jeff Goins doesn’t just show us how to be more creative. He also reveals a path for turning our art into business and our business into art. Every entrepreneur, writer, and artist should read this book and take notes.”

“I found this book to be incredibly challenging and encouraging at the same time. Goins offers up more than a gimmicky “plan” to make money as an artist and instead presents the bigger and much more important challenge of shifting one’s whole perspective and conception of what a true artist is in the first place.”

Get The Book Here  –  4.7/5




Type Matters: Simple tips for everyday typography – Jim Williams

Type Matters! is an essential book for anyone working with type – from beginners to professionals. Use the 3 sections on the basics, display & headline text and setting type to figure out exactly what makes for good vs. bad typography.

“In short, Type Matters is an indispensable guide to the basics of typography that no budding graphic designer should be without.”

“It’s bound like a bible, it’s clearly printed, comes with two book mark ribbons. Absolutely gorgeous print and formatting. This is not the definitive guide to types, but damn close to it. If you want your website, manuals, signs, etc., to look like Apple and other high end companies, study this first.”

Get The Book Here  –  4.5/5




Show Your Work! – Austin Kleon

Show Your Work! is about why generosity trumps genius. It’s about getting findable, about using the network instead of wasting time “networking.” It’s not self-promotion, it’s self-discovery―let others into your process, then let them steal from you.

“Kleon addresses with equal parts humility, honesty, and humor one of the quintessential questions of the creative life: How do you get ‘discovered’?”

Buy The Book Here  –  4.6/5




The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion – Elle Luna

The Crossroads of Should and Must is a highly visual & inspirational experience. Its positive messaging encourages you to follow your creative passion and find your true calling.

“Elle’s infectious enthusiasm will inspire you to do the boldest thing you can in life: be your true self.”

“Seriously. If you’re ready for it, this book will open you up in amazing ways. Less about the words, and more about the images and the energy conveyed.”

Get The Book Here  –  4.6/5




Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration – Ed Catmull

Ed Catmull, the co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios lays out the ultimate book about creativity in business & leadership.

“Over more than thirty years, Ed Catmull has developed methods to root out and destroy the barriers to creativity, to marry creativity to the pursuit of excellence, and, most impressive, to sustain a culture of disciplined creativity during setbacks and success.”

“Just might be the best business book ever written.”

Get The Book Here  –  4.7/5




Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team – Alina Wheeler

This book from Alina Wheeler gives brand managers, marketers, and designers a proven, universal five-step process for creating and implementing effective brand identity.

“Easily one of the most holistic coverages on the concept of “Branding”. This is a MUST for students and professionals at any state in the career. This is a fantastic reference, and should be mandatory reading for anyone working in a Branding/Marketing/Advertising capacity.”

“this book is beautifully laid out and shows a great appreciation for information design. Its a visual feast for the eyes that you’ll enjoy perusing.”

Get The Book Here  –  4.5/5



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