top 8 books i look at for design inspiration

August 3, 2021

written by
Bri Martinez

More often than not, I find more joy looking through design books for influence on a design challenge I have than digging through websites and thumbnails. Each designer will be different in what their aesthetic preferences are, but here are some books that I love sourcing when it comes to inspiration.


1. Mr. Product Volumes 1 & 2

The Mr. Product books are full of vintage mascots that range from the 50s all the way to the 70s and 80s. I love the art style of that time period, and these books provide a lot of interesting information regarding the history of mascots and the thinking behind why a brand might want to invest in one.


2. Cartoon Modern

As a fan of animation, I started to heavily lean towards the cartoon style that was simplified and geometric in shapes with unusual but well made color palettes of the 50s. It was something that was abstract, and pushed cartoons further away from the realistic styles that were common prior to. Every now and then I love to look through this book for this stylistic approach.

3. Little Book of Lettering

This little book provides so much beautiful lettering art to look at by a diverse range of artists. What caught my eye more than anything was that each artist is very unique in their style, and it covers lettering done from hand drawn, digitally done, and even 3D crafted from life objects and photographed.


4. Thinking with Type

Thinking with Type is another great book when it comes to typography. What I love about this book is that it covers the more technical topics of why typography is so fundamental to design, and why your composition with it is necessary for well done visual communication.

5. General Assembly’s Pracitioner’s Guide to User Experience Design

Less visual and more technical, GA’s UX Design book is full of helpful tips and ways to navigate User Experience design. Since their courses can be expensive to participate in, this book is a nice consolation prize to learn and comprehend the ins and outs of UX Design.

6. Graphic Design Process

I love the Graphic Design Process book because it takes time to thoroughly dive into 20 different design case studies. You get to see a team’s process from start to finish, and the different challenges and iterations they had to go through before getting to the final product. They also have amazing and strong work that’s visually appealing and inspiring to look at.

7. Goodtype’s The Art of Lettering

Another fun lettering book. How can you not be inspired by these pieces?


In the age of technology, it can be so easy to find inspiration at the tips of your fingers when it comes to design. Sites like Pinterest, Designspiration, Behance, Dribbble, UX Collective–the list can keep going–are all great resources when it comes to getting inspired. However, sometimes you can experience cognitive overload, and it might also just be easier to take a break from your screen by looking through a book.