Recommended Reading for Aspiring Creatives
At P+B, a couple of us sit on an advisory board for one of the local college’s media programs, we’ve instructed at the college level, ran workshops, and continue to speak publicly about our industries. We do this to achieve our own goals of public speaking, encouraging us to stay up to date on industry trends, and to be more involved in our community.
One thing that’s come up over the last few years is trying to get a concrete reading list together for beginners in the art and design field. We want to focus on helping students of art and design and self-learners build a strong foundation to grow from. We strongly believe that it isn’t the tools that help someone survive in our industry but rather the understanding of the underlying principles and fundamental skills. You can learn a new tool, or we can teach you one, fairly easily. Understanding the core theory and fostering strong and healthy working processes takes much longer and is far more important, not to mention highly transferable.
As a designer or illustrator we’d be looking to hire, we’d want you to understand basic composition, colour theory, the grid, typography, basic branding and marketing knowledge, and more. Though many courses and programs can’t make students experts in all things, getting as many of these principles in your skill set as possible will greatly increase your chances of being hired here or hopefully elsewhere. Though a recommended reading list isn’t going to fill the knowledge gaps for everyone, it’s a good start, and a route many people will be able to access (can’t afford it? go to the library!).
We also expect an eagerness to learn new things. Subscribe to newsletters and RSS feeds of popular art and design discussions and topics, read whatever you can, consume, experiment, seek meaningful critiques of your work, Google things you can’t figure out, ask your peers and mentors for help and advice, and keep growing. Passion is truly key in creative industries, and you can’t learn passion. You need to have the fire in your belly to continually improve, create, and consume creativity. So, here are some things for you to consume in your pursuit of a creative career.
Here is our list of recommended reading so far
- The Elements of Graphic Design by Alex W White
- A Type Primer by John Kane
- Making and Breaking the Grid
- Thinking With Type by Ellen Lupton
- A Book Apart series (design and web theory, and front-end development)
- Common Mistakes In Art & Design by Spencer Goldade (from P+B! Free Download)
- The Non-Designer’s Type and Design Book (free sample of the book here)
- Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug (UX)
- The Inmates are Running The Asylum – Alan Cooper (UX, free download)
- Figure Drawing For All It’s Worth by Andrew Loomis
- ConceptArt community for healthy critiques and learning (public forum)
- The Skillful Huntsman: an example of good character design
- The Gnomon Workshop (videos, tutorials)
- Color and Light by James Gurney
Yes, that’s right, we recommend illustrators also know design fundamentals and drawing fundamentals. An illustrator will only be more successful if they better understand things like composition, colour theory, and yes even typography. Want to get into indie comics? Editorial or magazine illustration? How does typography overlay or interact with the illustrations?
What would you recommend for people getting started in design or illustration?