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Book Review:

The Complete Graphic Designer

This is a solid, albeit rather brief and basic, guide to graphic design, covering mainly fundamentals and how the business itself runs. The language is clear, straightforward, and highly informative, while the numerous examples help to highlight different creative strategies and good design for a multitude of assignments. That it covers both the aesthetic/theoretical and practical/business side of things is quite helpful. Though it’s worth noting that this is not a comprehensive idea book or resource guide. It also won’t tell you how to run a design business, how to bid on jobs, etc. only what kinds of projects are common, different types of clients, and different types of solutions.

The last book on the subject I read was more concept-driven and the design distractingly cluttered. This one, on the other hand, is more practical in its orientation and a very quick read. It’s probably most ideal for beginners, or more experienced designers looking for a simple refresher course. The numerous examples and overview of best practices make it a worth including on one’s home shelf (though I will continue seeking something more expansive).

Original review posted on GoodReads.

Book Review: The Elements of Graphic Design

The Elements of Graphic Design

I would give the actual text of Elements of Graphic Design 4 stars, as it is chock-full of useful information and really helps cement basic design principles. However, I’m giving it 3 stars because the structure and design of the content makes gleaning the information at times a challenge.

The content itself is pretty basic graphic design principles, how to think about them, how to use them. Size, color, proportion, white space, grids, typography, etc. While is could have been organized so there was a little less repetition and clarity, most of it was well explained and demonstrated. Much of it was not new to me, but then I have a BFA, worked a good deal in the graphic art side of printmaking, and have spent a good deal of time with typography. I didn’t study design, however, and much of this is framed as a teacher might cover it in a class, therefore quite welcome. I’m especially grateful for the checklist of questions to ask about a design, which is extremely helpful for clarifying potential issues in my design work that I’m not always good at identifying or articulating.

The design of the information, though following the kind of order and internal logic described in the text, is often too busy, overloaded with examples and quotes. All quite helpful indeed, but the lack of white space and inclusion of 3-4 threads of information makes everything difficult to parse. You could argue that the author is drawing attention to these elements by using them in a more heightened way, but then that begs the question of whether it really helps the reader to grasp the actual content. I don’t really mind design that challenges presumptions of good design and pushes the limits, but within the context of just conveying best use principles, this may not be the best approach.

This is certainly a great-looking book, and I’ll be keeping it on my shelf for the general guidelines and checklist, but personally I would prefer something with a more straightforward approach to the content.

Original review posted on GoodReads.