Book Review: “Graphic Design: The New Basics”

Samantha Warren, Former Viget

Article Category: #Design & Content

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Since college I have been slowly building my own library of design resources. The explanation behind design fundamentals are inconveniently scattered over several volumes on my bookshelf. Over time the practice of using all of these elements can become second nature to a designer, sometimes making it a challenge to verbally break down the thought-process behind a piece of work. For me, this is when I turn to my design library for assistance. image There are a lot of great design books out there that debate the fundamentals of design, but many are confusing, complex, disorganized, and dated. I am happy to add Ellen Lupton's new book, which is co-authored by Jennifer Cole Phillips, to my bookshelf. Yes, Graphic Design: The New Basics is officially my new design fundamentals go-to guide. I am a big fan of Ellen Lupton. She's a writer, curator, and graphic designer who leads the MFA Design program at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, where she is also the "Director of Design Thinking" (honestly, shouldn't every organization have a Director of Design Thinking?). Her book Thinking with Type is the most practical publication out today on typography and it never leaves my desk. When I recently saw on her blog (which she co-writes with her twin sister) that she had a new book out, I quickly clicked over to Amazon and made the purchase. image Two aspects that set apart this book from others are its refreshing simplicity and its creative examples. Each chapter is broken into clearly defined subject areas, making finding what you need a snap. The copy is insightful and interesting (without a lot of pretentious fluff) and is complemented by visuals that range from online screenshots to her own students' work. I was delighted to see a screenshot of Digg Labs' Swarm application, which was used to illustrate "Dynamic Hierarchy," a concept that is hard to explain but clearly exemplified online in that circumstance. Overall I highly recommend this book as an addition to your personal design library. Whether you are a seasoned design professional or someone just interested in learning more, it serves as a fantastic and succinct resource for the fundamentals of good design.

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