Whenever faced with a new design brief, it is always useful to research what has been done before. This helps you to discover what works and what does not work. When stuck for ideas, looking at existing artwork can help to boost your imagination.
Here are some of the books I own that I recommend looking through for design inspiration:
Typography Sketchbooks by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico
This book contains examples of sketchbooks kept by over 100 typographers. Although there are not many final outcomes featured, the selection shows the thought processes behind each typographical composition. Sketchbooks need not be neat and tidy, and there is no right or wrong way to display your thoughts. Typography Sketchbooks reveals what works best for each individual and may inspire you to try and document your work in an alternative way.
Graphic: Inside the Sketchbooks of the World’s Great Graphic Designers by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico
Similarly to Heller’s Typographic Sketchbooks, this book also shows the sketchbooks of 100 of the worlds most influential designers, including Art Spiegelman, Milton Glaser and Sara Fanelli. Hence the title, Graphic, the subject matter of these sketchbooks cover a broader insight to the mind of a designer, introducing illustration and layout as well as typography.
Drawn In: A Peek into the Inspiring Sketchbooks of 44 Fine Artists, Illustrators, Graphic Designers, and Cartoonists by Julia Rothman
Drawn In is a similar book to the two above except it includes a wider variety of disciplines. A landscape painter’s sketchbook is going to be very different from a cartoonist or graphic designer’s sketchbook. It also includes interviews with each artist and their opinions on keeping sketchbooks.
The Picture Book: Contemporary Illustration by Angus Hyland
I highly recommend this book to illustrators looking for inspiration; especially those who are still developing their own style. The Picture Book contains some well known artists as well as promising newbies. Some of the work is very beautiful and uses a range of mediums you may have not even thought of using.
Illustration Now! Vol.4 by Julius Wiedermann
150 illustrators working in 2011 are shown in this book. There are other volumes available from different years, but this is the volume I personally own. Some of the work in here inspired me whilst I was working toward my graphic design degree, especially as I was leaning more towards illustration than any other style. Illustration Now! also contains information about each individual’s career path, exhibitions and clients they have worked for.
@Supermarkets: Package Designs by Kaoru Takahashi
I came across this book at a Christmas bazaar back in 2010. It is really interesting to look at the packaging styles and methods that some of the most well known companies use. It is also fascinating to see how competing brands package their goods to try and sell their products.
Handmade Graphics: Tools and Techniques Beyond the Mouse by Anna Wray
While studying graphic design, I became more interested in designing by hand rather than on a computer. Handmade Graphics is a very useful book that shows you how you can produce designs without digital input. There are also a few tutorials you can follow for each set of examples showcased.
Fingerprint: The Art of Using Handmade Elements in Graphic Design and Fingerprint No.2: The Evolution of Handmade Elements in Graphic Design by Chen Design Associates
These two volumes feature hundreds of examples of design outcomes produced by hand. All of these have been used successfully in the real world. It is amazing the lengths that some designers go to achieve by hand what a computer could achieve (although less authentically) in a few minutes. There are also a handful of essays written by leading designers about the benefits and their experience of producing handmade designs.
Every year Graphis publishes annuals for a variety of disciplines . Artists and designers submit their work and the winners get featured in the relevant annual. I own three annuals: Design 2010, Posters 2010 and Posters 2011. I have turned to these books quite often when lacking inspiration as they contain so many original ideas.
I hope you will find these books as useful as I have found them. Do you have any recommendations of books to turn to when in need of inspiration?