Looking for tips to achieve your 2013 resolutions? Need a creative push? We recommend seeking inspiration in one of the most traditional ways — unplug for a bit, escape the glow of the screen, and feed your head with a good, old-fashioned book. We scoured the most popular books on creativity published in recent months to select a handful that will have you moving in the right direction.
The Shape of Design by Frank Chimero
Designers and design fans will immediately recognize Frank Chimero’s name from his presentations and videos on the design-conference circuit. Over the years, he’s honed his skills addressing this topic, and in 2012 he combined all of his disparate ideas into one complete work. The concise 125-page book was funded by a Kickstarter campaign, followed by online and social buzz that helped increase its popularity. Readers have marveled at how Chimero addresses not just the “Hows,” but also the “Whys” of design. “After reading the book, I want you to look at what you do in a whole new light. Design is more than working for clients,” Chimero says.
Maria Konnikova offers one of the year’s most hyped books, capitalizing on the modern affinity for the famed, fictional British detective. Rather than focus on Holmes’ detective and deduction skills, Konnikova presents reasoning methods that the average person can replicate to become a more effective thinker. “Most of us have a tendency to make instant, crass judgments like that fool Watson,” said The Guardian. But with a little investigation of our own into the psychology and methods that made Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s protagonist so masterful, we can all uncover something new. Elementary, dear readers.
You might recognize these logos, but did you ever consider where they came from? Ron van der Vlugt looks into the development and evolution of famous symbols for brands like Apple, Nike, and Coca-Cola. Unlock the mysteries behind these legendary logos and learn about the history of how designers matched the identities of some of the world’s most famous companies with emotions they hoped to project through their symbols. That’s not all, though: Van der Vlugt includes a glimpse into how early versions of these logos looked, offering an impression of how history could have gone differently.
For those confounded by the flood of information and data about our world that constantly bombard us, Alberto Cairo comes to the rescue with a new approach to make sense of it all. By turning this infor into more digestible stories, you’ll discover how to tackle the problem of a big data set. Charts and diagrams are clearly here to stay — it’s time to get comfortable with how to view them and get the most out of them. On top of that, designers and journalists who specialize in chart creation outline how to most creatively and effectively communicate information. The book also comes with a DVD containing video lessons that expand on core concepts, so you can put the lessons to work right away.
Sometimes you just have to build something differently, and that’s what Chris Ware did here. His book is more aptly describable as an “oversized box containing 14 related but free-standing comics, in a variety of shapes and styles,” as the Los Angeles Times put it. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure style book that allows the reader to “build” the story as he or she goes. It took Ware over a decade to create this ambitious graphic novel, which is bound to be a discussion piece on anyone’s coffee table. The stories buried inside the book are full of despair and disappointment, but it’s the external innovation that speaks loudest. Like most great works of art, it’s something you have to see for yourself.
*BONUS SELECTION FROM THE SHUTTERSTOCK DESIGN TEAM
Originally published in 2007, this book remains a favorite of ours through all seasons. Debbie Millman interviews 21 designers about their motivations, processes, and creations. For those new to the design field or looking to make a change mid-career, there’s something here for everyone. Heeding the advice and insights of some of the design field’s most recognized and most talented designers will lead you down the road to success.
What are some recent books that have jumpstarted your creativity? Let us know in the comments!