3 of My Favorite Design Books

James Altucher once said…

Read every book, blog, website, whatever about what you want to be an expert in.

When I began my career in design, books became some of my best friends. They spoke to me in ways mere humans could not, they were a constant companion when there was no one on the other end of the phone to call, they were there in hotel rooms and on planes and while I was standing in line to get my caffeine fix. Now I carry them around on my iPhone, but don’t take away my hard copies!. Design is something you never stop learning. I want to be the best I can be and I love absorbing the knowledge readily available in books.

These are some of my recent favorites – so whether you’re looking for a fresh source of inspiration, education, or just plain entertainment, consider checking these out. There are plenty of great titles out there, but these have been really significant to me.

1: Ogilvy on Advertising

A candid and indispensable primer on all aspects of advertising from the man Time has called “the most sought after wizard in the business.” In his years as an advertising executive and copywriter, Ogilvy created some of the world’s most successful and iconic marketing campaigns, including the legendary Man in the Hathaway Shirt, plus notable efforts for Schweppes, Rolls Royce, and the island of Puerto Rico among many others. What better place is there to learn but directly from the man widely hailed as “The Father of Advertising“?

One of my favorite quotes from this book was…

“Big ideas come from the unconscious. This is true in art, in science and in advertising. But your unconscious has to be well informed, or your idea will be irrelevant. Stuff your conscious mind with information, then unhook your rational thought process. You can help this process by going for a long walk, or taking a hot bath, or drinking half a pint of claret.” ― David Ogilvy, Ogilvy on Advertising

I also smile inside every time I read this one…

“Take whiskey. Why do some people chose Jack Daniel’s, while others choose Grand Dad or Taylor? Have they tried all three and compared the taste? Don’t make me laugh. The reality is that these three brands have different images which appeal to different kinds of people. It isn’t the whiskey they choose, it’s the image. The brand image is 90 per cent of what the distiller has to sell. Researchers” ― David Ogilvy, Ogilvy on Advertising

Snag “Ogilvy On Advertising” On Amazon

2: Design Is a Job

This is a “must-read” for any designer. I only wish this book had been around years ago when I started out in design. Co-founder of Mule Design and raconteur Mike Monteiro wants to help you do your job better. From contracts to selling design, from working with clients to working with each other, you’ll learn why navigating the business of design is just as important as the craft of it. Cultivated from his own experience, Mike packs this brief book with knowledge you can’t afford not to know.

I could list 30 quotes from this book…. but here are a couple favorites.

“Clients will always ask you to make their logo bigger, prescribe solutions, and ask you to do things that will make you smack your forehead. You can roll your eyes at how much they don’t understand about design or you can roll up your sleeves and begin practicing your craft by helping them clarify what they need.” – Mike Monteiro, Design Is A Job

Clients are not buying time from you… they are buying work!

“Only you know the value of your time. (Hint: it is greater than $0.) But the value of your work to a particular client depends on what the client has to gain from that work. And the client is not buying time from you. They are buying work. The value of that work is what you need to charge them for.” – Mike Monteiro, Design Is A Job

Snag “Design Is A Job” On Amazon

3: Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind

I still struggle with the day-to-day routine.

Are you over-extended, over-distracted, and overwhelmed?

Uh… hello?

Do you work at a breakneck pace all day, only to find that you haven’t accomplished the most important things on your agenda when you leave the office?

*raises hand*

This book offers up wisdom from 20 leading creative minds giving you a toolkit for tackling the new challenges of a 24/7, always-on workplace.

Featuring contributions from: Dan Ariely, Leo Babauta, Scott Belsky, Lori Deschene, Aaron Dignan, Erin Rooney Doland, Seth Godin, Todd Henry, Christian Jarrett, Scott McDowell, Mark McGuinness, Cal Newport, Steven Pressfield, Gretchen Rubin, Stefan Sagmeister, Elizabeth G. Saunders, Tony Schwartz, Tiffany Shlain, Linda Stone, and James Victore.

Again, there is so much good content in this book it is hard to pull out just a few quotes…

“Like it or not, we are constantly forced to juggle tasks and battle unwanted distractions—to truly set ourselves apart, we must learn to be creative amidst chaos.”  ― Jocelyn K. Glei

Here is a big one I’ve been trying to work on lately…

“The single most important change you can make in your working habits is to switch to creative work first, reactive work second. This means blocking off a large chunk of time every day for creative work on your own priorities, with the phone and e-mail off.” – Mark McGuiness

Snag “Manage Your Day-to-Day” On Amazon

What are some of your favorites?

I’d love to hear them — especially if you’re just getting started in design. Leave a comment below!

4 thoughts on “3 of My Favorite Design Books”

  1. Thanks Jason – great read and great resources. David Olgivy definitely influenced me early in my career and still does. Sage advice. Look forward to reading these!

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