When our Associate Creative Director, Nolen Strals, is on the hunt for creative inspiration he often turns to his books to find it. From pop artists to Scandinavian crime fiction, his collection of 300 books (and counting) offers a wide selection of content.
Of course, many of his books are related to graphic design, typography, lettering and design history. We’re sharing some of his book recommendations for creative inspiration and why they’re worth your read:
- Reasons to Be Cheerful
Author: Paul GormanThis is a monograph about the life and work of Barney Bubbles, an influential music design legend. Nolen’s biggest lesson from it is to never be beholden to a style. Instead, always be searching for a creative and unexpected solution that captures the spirit of your client. The book is a constant source of inspiration, offering a chance to see something new every time it’s opened.
- Newspaper Design
Editors: Javier Errea & Gestalten
Showcasing editorial design from all across the world, this book captures how certain design motifs and rules are universal. Nolen says the physical book itself is a piece of art. Beyond just designing for the printed page, it shows how the newspapers translate to the web. There’s lots to learn from how they clearly lay out rich, complex content even when designing for digital spaces.
- Don’t Call It That
Author: Eli AltmanThis book is written by the Creative Director of One Hundred Monkeys, a naming and writing studio in Berkeley. It’s a workbook that provides simple, clear and thoughtful ways to approach one of the most inscrutable parts of creative work: giving a name to a new product or company. Eli also has humorous (and important) lessons as simple as this: “How to Ask Friends. Don’t.”
- Brick Index
Author: Rick PoynerThis recommendation displays the full spectrum of brick types and more importantly, the typography on bricks. This book, along with others published by Centre Centre covers the outer edges of graphic design, focusing on the small forgotten graphic details of life. Nolen recommends checking out all other books published by Centre Centre. Their books have reminded him that there’s beauty to be found everywhere: under bricks, on the walls of small town clubs, in the design of punch cards that were used to run early computers, in northern England wrestling costumes, and everywhere else.
“As visual designers, nothing you can do is more important than constantly and closely observing the world around you,” said Nolen. When seeking creative inspiration, be open to new ideas and changes — and dive into these books if you get the chance.