Best must read books for Designers/Illustrators in 2021

Must read books for Designers/Illustrators in 2021

Must read books for Designers/Illustrators in 2021

My bookshelf is my favorite thing in my art studio. I have always loved collecting books, but my nomadic lifestyle (4 countries and counting) has always come in the way to creating a meaningful collection. So I always think twice before spending money on books, as I know I might not be able to take them with me when I move. Hence, here I present to you few books that I would not mind taking up space in my luggage or paying extra money to be shipped! We’ll divide the books into categories namely:

  • Business side of things
  • Colors & color palettes
  • Lettering & Calligraphy
  • Typography

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Must read books for Designers/Illustrators – the BUSINESS side of things

Making art is one thing, but selling and making money out of it is a completely different aspect. Not every one of us is a businessman and needs a little help (and sometimes a lot more) to navigate the business side of things. This section mentions those books which have been proven beneficial to understand the business side of being an Illustrator – from promoting your work to finding the audience and pricing.

1. Art Inc. by Lisa Congdon

Must read books for Designers/Illustrators in 2021

I love Lisa Congdon’s work, I have been following her on Instagram for quite a while now. This book is filled with tips and tricks on how to get your work out there and find avenues to sell your work. A note though, this book is not targeted just for illustrators, but for artists in general. She has another book called Find your artistic voice, which I unfortunately haven’t read yet, so hence cannot recommend.

2. Show your work by Austin Kleon

This is not one of your typical books. We know how to create, but what do we do after that? This book talks about tips to get discovered and learn how to make the best use of your network. Chapter titles include You Don’t Have to Be a Genius, Share Something Small Every Day, and Stick Around. I think it’s perfect for someone who is good at creating art but has no clue how to get it out there.

3. How To Be An Illustrator – Darrel Rees

A must have book for any illustrator – be it a beginner or an established Illustrator. This book covers all the basics of being an illustrator, such as creating an eye catching portfolio, negotiating contracts, pricing your work appropriately. It helps any newbie illustrator navigate the business world of Illustration.

Must read books for Designers/Illustrators in 2021

Must read books for Designers/Illustrators – Colors and Color Palettes

1. The Designer’s Dictionary of Color – Sean Adams

I got this book when I was really struggling with colors. This hard bound book is beautiful, contains beautiful color palettes next to equally stunning photographs. I can’t tell you how many times I have reached out for this book when I’m stuck and need color inspiration.

2. A Dictionary of Color Combinations

I saw this book in one of the bookshops when I was visiting Japan, and for some reason I didn’t buy it. I have been eyeing this book for a while now and although I don’t own it yet, I will for sure sometime in the future. The book is in Japanese but is easy to understand even if you don’t read the language, because you can concentrate more on the colors rather than the text. As the title suggests, this is a book on color combinations and is perfect if you are like me who struggles in this area! The book contains about 348 color combinations – enough to last you for a while!

Must read books for Designers/Illustrators in 2021

Must read books for Designers/Illustrators – Lettering and Calligraphy

Let’s accept this, you need some or the other form of lettering when you are illustrating something. Well, you could always hire a lettering expert, but we all know lettering is fun. Here are a few books that are fun, inspiring and a great help when you need to incorporate lettering into your artwork.

1. Hand-Lettering Ledger by Mary Kate McDevitt

A great book for beginners, filled with beautiful lettering. The number of blank pages can be a bit annoying as I don’t think most of us like to draw directly in our books. But, just the plain beauty of the pages is enough to buy this book!

2. The Art of Calligraphy by David Harris

A more step by step kind of a book, covers mostly historic styles and actual calligraphy. Definitely not your modern calligraphy kinda book. Explains the techniques behind the alphabets and origins of each alphabet, which itself makes it a quite an interesting read.

Must read books for Designers/Illustrators in 2021

Must read books for Designers/Illustrators – Typography

Typography – I have love hate relationship with this. Anything goes into print, needs some form of typography in it. I find it quite challenging to pair fonts. But, as you get to learn the basics and the elements of a font, you slowly start to see the pairs. Although I have read quite a bit of books on Typography, these two are the ones I would recommend exploring. You can choose one of these books or both, depending on your interest in the subject.

1. Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton

I have owned this book for a really long time now! If you are a visual kind of a person like me, I would highly recommend this book. It’s filled with full page colorful spreads, which makes it a page turner. A quick note, please get the physical book, not the kindle version!

2. The Geometry of Type (also known as The Anatomy of Type) by Stephen Coles

You might have guessed by now that I like books that are visually appealing. This one is no exception. It closely examines 100 typefaces, zooming in on the tiny details that make up the designs, thus making is extremely informative for people who are completely new to typography. This book basically goes into details of what constitutes a type, which will prep you to understand, recognize and differentiate typefaces.

Hope you find these books as useful as I found them to be. Let me know if you have any books that should go on this list, I would love to check them out!

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This article was posted under the title Best must read books for Designers/Illustrators in 2021.

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