The Graphic Design Idea Book: Inspiration from 50 Masters comes to you from an OFFSET favourite and dear friend, Steven Heller and director of design and digital media at the School of Visual Arts Press, Gail Anderson.
The book is an extremely well thought out and produced collection of graphic design works from some of the world’s most renowned designers, including some very familiar OFFSET names. Although, the work and ideas presented here are so distinctive and clear that you almost don’t need the credits to recognise the talent.
Good design works from the basics outward, and Heller and Anderson’s book is no different. It’s structured. It’s functional. ‘Colour’ and ‘Black and White’ are chapter headings found at the beginning of the book (which acts as a manual of sorts), before developing and expanding at great speed towards more complex topics like ‘Ornament’, where sage advice regarding decorative elements is dispensed in concise expert chunks.
“In truth, though, ornamentation in graphic design is no more sinful or saintly than so called purity.”
The real value in this book comes in its ability to break down the fundamentals in a way that teaches you things about topics you were previously so sure about. Do you know what a collage is? Do you really know? From the history, to the concepts, to the finesse of application, The Graphic Design Idea Book gives you the complete rundown.
Every so often, a book comes along that provides the building blocks for a medium. David Bate’s Photography: The Key Concepts is a great example of this. This book is another. Much like Bate, Heller and Anderson succeed by not speaking down to the reader, but not presuming prior knowledge either. Every day, someone is born that has no idea why white space is important or powerful.
In reality, this is a primer text. It’s a starter. You’ll use this to birth ideas rather than develop them. There are plenty of other books out there that specialise in individual movements and techniques, but there is none that will give you such a pinpoint-accurate view of an entire medium like this one.
The Graphic Design Idea Book is available from Laurence King here. You might also be interested in Graphic Design Visionaries and keep your eyes peeled right here for the next book in Heller and Anderson’s series, The Typography Idea Book.
Photos by Lauren Pritchard