My Design Book Collection: Volume I

Saturday, March 04, 2017

I have decided to start a series on my blog where I read, write and post a review of a bunch of creative-themed books. Originally, I was going to just do one master post of all the creative themed books that I have; but my collection has almost gotten into the double figures, and that would be far too big of a post if I was going to do every book justice! Plus, I'm most likely going to continue buying and reading more creative books, so why limit myself to what I have now?!

I have chosen these three books to begin with; because a) they were the first three that I bought, and b) they're a nice balance of reference, rules and thoughts, that I figured that would make a perfect combo for the first post in this series!


100 Years Of Colours - Katie Greenwood

I saw this book in my local Whitcoulls and thought it looked pretty nifty, but when I flicked through it I just fell in love. I am an immense lover of colours, I love the pastels, the grunges, the brights and everything in between. But whenever I get to the stage of designing where I have to pick a colour palette (when it's not an obvious decision) I get so incredibly stuck; there's basically an infinite amount of colours and colour combos I just can't pick!

I love how this book has pretty much any kind of colour combination that you could think of for almost every occasion. The book is layed out to have one piece of atwork for every year from 1900 to 2000; each decade has a brief description of common themes used, and major world events that were high influences in the colours used in artworks of those years. Each year has it's own spread, with a selected piece of art on one side and details about the main five colours used, with the RGB codes of each colour, and a bar-chart of the percentage that each colour is, and can be used. It shows that you can pick one or two dominant colours and then a secondary colour and two smaller ones, or, one dominant one, two secondary ones and two smaller ones. It's a nice, gentle reminder that not every colour you use should be a dominant one (otherwise, it ends up that none of them are!) and that you need to select which colour is the more important ones.

For instance, in this one for the year 1926, has a great combination of light pastel colours with a neutral cream and a black. I have loved the use of pastel colours recently, and have begun using them in my own design work too. I adore just flicking through the pages and coming across a colour palette that I love and then finding a use for it (which is often the backwards way of designing, but I just don't care! Sometimes inspiration for work comes from the colours themselves!)


Big Magic - Elizabeth Gilbert

Wow. This book is probably one of my favourite books of all time, actually, it now is. I know with a lot of people say that when they come across a good book they "cannot put it down". However, in the case of Big Magic I had the opposite problem. I was so inspired whilst reading this book that I just had to stop and start creating!

Elizabeth talks a lot about her journey through creativity; as an author she understands the creative process, she talks about the pains of being creative; the dry spells where no ideas are anywhere to be seen, when people don't take your ideas seriously, the fear in not being good enough. As well as the struggles of being a creative she writes about the great things about creativity; the unknown-ness of a career path in the arts, the excited feeling when you come across an idea that is just the best darn thing in existence, the fact that you can turn idea generating and creating into a career!

A part of Big Magic that really inspires me is the retelling of her conversation (p64) with poet, Ruth Stone, and how Ruth describes ideas "coming towards her", that she would have to "run like hell" to get to a pen and paper to write down the idea. Ruth would sometimes get there just in time and others she would be too slow, and said that that idea would just move onto the next person, seeking out another creative to bring it to life. Elizabeth references this later on in the book again when she tells about an idea she had for a book, but she had other things going on in her life that she kept putting the idea off over and over again, then it just left her, off to find another creative to bring it to life.

I love the way Elizabeth talks about ideas like they are things, and how her creative process is so variant, that it can come to her during a nap, or it can take weeks, months or even years to develop into something.

Two quotes that I love in this book are funnily enough in the prefix and the conclusion; "What is creativity? The relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration" and "what we make matters enormously, and it doesn't matter at all ... the treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes". Creativity is simply turning an idea into a thing, and creatives need to always be on the prowl for inspiration because if you don't grab it, it will find someone else to.


Don't Use Black Text On A Yellow Background - Anneloes van Gaalen

This book was sort-of bought on a whim; I had seen this series once before and when I came across this design/typographic version I knew it would be right up my alley!

The layout of this book is fantastic; each spread has the rule, a brief explanation and a bunch of quotes from a bunch of different creatives. From fashion designers to painters to poets to typographers and everything in between. It's fantastic to read the thoughts of all these different people at different stages of their creative careers doing a whole bunch of different creative pieces of work.

Ironically, one of the "rules" that I took away the most was number 51; Break The Rules. One of the quotes on this page sums up the idea of there being rules is the one by Robert Bringhurst, "by all means break the rules, and break them beautifully, deliberately, and well. That is one of the ends for which they exist". Simply put, rules are there as guides, they help us figure out what works and what doesn't, what could and what should; however, design rules aren't the be all and end all, they are guides, you won't get locked up if you don't use a grid, use clashing colours together or didn't use Helvetica. Never limit yourself to just the rules, as some occasions call for the complete opposite!


I could go on about how great these books are, how they are a wonderful pool of inspiration in themselves, but that might just give away a few too many spoilers for you! I would 100% recommend these books to any creative, because no matter what field of creativity you are in, you can find some kind of creative comfort, or even a kick up the butt that you may need to begin your next project!

Have you read any of these books? Have I managed to convince you to read them? Let me know in the comments! And also, let me know of any books about creativity that you think I will enjoy, my to-read list is ever growing and adding a few more certainly wont hurt!

Until next time,
- Louise x

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