8 Books: My favorite and Most Useful Books

Happy Friday Everyone! This week I am excited to share with you 8 of my favorite and most useful lettering and design books. I will be cluing you in on how each book differs, and I'll also show you a quick flip through their interior pages. Each title is a link to where you can purchase the book online. Over the years I have bought a lot of design and lettering books, and naturally, not all of them turned out to be as good of an investment as I may have hoped for. So, I have put together this link to save you some money and time searching for good resources. In my opinion, the following are a few exceptionally useful lettering and design books. (They are in no particular order)

1. Los Logos No.7 - Gestalten - 

It’s true that you can find great inspiration online by perusing logo and lettering portfolios, but there is something about having a nice big book filled with exactly what you are looking for. Everything is in one place. The pages are filled with almost every style of logo you can imagine, so if you are working on a logo project, this is the book to inspire you to think differently. 

"A lavishly illustrated compilation of the works of a variety of international designers provides a definitive overview of contemporary logo design from around the world..." - Google Books

I just recently purchased this book and I haven’t been able to spend too much time with it yet, but just from reading and practicing techniques from a couple of its pages, I have already learned a lot. The authors demonstrate a wide variety of lettering styles. The cool part about brush lettering is that there are many styles of brushes and each creates a unique mark, which allows us to achieve an array of styles. This book will teach you very specific techniques for each of the styles it demonstrates.

This book is an incredible resource for vintage three-dimensional lettering inspiration. There are six major sections which include lettering from America, Italy, France, Germany, Britain, and a section for miscellaneous works. Its pages are filled with beautiful color images that bleed off the edges. This book is less of an instruction manual, and more of a pot of gold plated inspiration. Some full alphabets are featured, while other styles are showcased in their original vintage advertisements, posters, and packaging design. 

This book is basically a look into the mind of the lettering artist, typographer, and logotype designer Doyald Young. He writes of his knowledge in the realm of typographic classification, and demonstrates characteristics of serif, sans-serif, and script letters. In addition to his overview of these three styles, he provides case studies of his past work and writes about why and how each design solution was appropriate for its corresponding project brief. This book is very powerful because Doyald teaches us the vocabulary of typographic design and letter construction, and shows us real examples of the types of design decisions made during his creative process. 

If you haven’t heard of Doyald Young until now, I recommend you check out this short documentary . After watching the documentary, I was sold on his skill and expertise so much that I went ahead and invested in three of his books. The books are a bit pricey, but well worth the investment, because the are just that. The books are an investment in your knowledge, resources, and ultimately your future! I might go as far as to say that every lettering artist should have these books, or at least one of them. A couple of his other books are Logotypes & Letterforms: Handlettered Logotypes and Typographic Considerations , and Dangerous Curves: Mastering Logotype Design.

Just as the title suggests, Ivan demonstrates his knowledge of lettering styles in an “Easy As ABC/123” step by step manner. The first bit of the book gives us a historical breakdown of the evolution of lettering by teaching us some fundamental calligraphic styles. This book is fun because at the end of each section, Ivan prompts the reader to take action by practicing each section’s content with a provided project brief. If you have been practicing a certain style of lettering for a while and you’re looking to diversify your portfolio, this book offers a lot of different avenues to consider!

I stand by practicing calligraphy as one of the best ways to better understand letter construction. This book is unique because in addition to its historical overview of the evolution of the western Latin alphabet, it offers stroke by stroke letter constructions for each of the calligraphic hands it demonstrates.

“For 2,000 years, the western Latin alphabet has developed and been modified by a vast range of social and technological changes, providing a rich and varied resource for the modern calligrapher to quarry.” -David Harris

The Universal Penman is a compilation of the works of many master scribes from the 18th Century, and it was used to teach people English Roundhand. The examples included in the book are the epitome of elegance. 

“In the 18th century, writing masters taught handwriting to educated men and women, especially to men who would be expected to use it on a daily basis in commerce. The craft of legible and elegant handwriting was a useful business skill.”  -John D. Berry of The Typekit Blog

Although having beautiful hand writing is not a relevant skill to successfully participate in business now days, I think we can all appreciate the beauty of English Roundhand. By reproducing a few examples from this book with observational drawing skills, we can learn a lot about the nature of flourishes. 

Tommy Thompson does a great job with breaking down the components of script letters. He teaches us how and why script letters are drawn the way they are formed, and includes many stylistic examples at the end of the book. It’s short and sweet, and you can pick up a copy for real cheap.