5 Helpful Books Your Designer Friends Need on Their Shelf

A gift guide for design friends just in time.

5 Helpful Books Your Designer Friends Need on Their Shelf

Want to score that “What! This is perfect!” reaction from your designer friends this Christmas? I’m sharing my 5 Favorite Books for creatives right here.

1. For the friend with killer skills to freelance, but keeps telling you they’re “just not ready yet”.

Creative, Inc. The Ultimate Guide to Running a Successful Freelance Business

Meg Mateo Ilasco & Joy DeAngdeelert Cho


Creative, Inc. is an excellent comprehensive guide to formalizing your creative skills into valuable work for others. From establishing yourself, navigating legal loopholes and business structures to balancing creativity and professional goals — this guide really is an “ultimate” compilation of help from people who’ve been there.


Find Creative, Inc. on Amazon.

2. For the friend who loves reading & writing.

Nicely Said, Writing for the Web With Style and Purpose

Nicole Fenton and Kate Kiefer Lee


I first heard about Nicely Said at a conference for marketers in higher ed — the presenter hit me with an AWESOME presentation on social media she called “Feed the Beast”. It was easily one of the most entertaining and informative sessions I’ve attended, and drew my attention to the impact of words & imagery on a viewer.


I’ve truly enjoyed this book – I use it almost like a manual and a temperature-check for both writing for the web &  formalized projects, as well. One aspect I especially love about this book is it’s guidance, in the first few chapters it acts almost as a to-do list of starting up your (or your client’s) voice, organizing your online presence and streamlining your communication channels.


Too much marketing speak for ya? In short, this sweetly written handbook really equips creatives to write well in every setting.


Find Nicely Said on Amazon.

3. For the friend who mentions feeling blocked, or needs a little creative boost.

Creative Workshop | 80 Challenges to sharpen your design skills

David Sherwin


Creative Workshop is like a post-art-school design bootcamp. And in full disclosure – I’ve started the book several times and have never been able to finish every challenge!


But, dream with me, 80 prompts that sharpen your design intuition, your ability to think quickly and push yourself creatively, every designer could use that, right? Receiving or purchasing this book is almost like a commitment to yourself or a great excuse for your friends to “just do it”.


I think the new year might just bring me another round of trying to push through all 80 challenges!


Find Creative Workshop on Amazon.

4. For the friend that needs a business mentor.

Graphic Artists Guild Handbook on Pricing & Ethical Guidelines

Fourteenth Edition


The Graphic Artist’s Guild is a fantastic resource for all graphic designers and visual artists. This version of the handbook can help mentor creatives with leveling expectations, working in-depth through professional issues and navigating the many legal topics of creative work. It also includes forms that you can copy and use to protect yourself, expand your business, and guarantee your clients of their rights and yours when it comes to buying, selling and producing artwork (and other intellectual properties) for others.


Find The Guild Handbook on Amazon.

5. For the humanitarian close to your heart.

Designing for Social Change | Strategies for community-based graphic design

Andrew Shea


Given to me by one of the most generous and open artists I know, this book inspired and fueled me to keep pushing my skills outward to serve my community.


I operate under a mantra that my college pals found pretty corny, and that my peers sometimes find a little lofty: good design can change the world. But I find it so true – from election ballot design to advocating for humanitarian efforts, the tiniest and most large-scale designs we encounter have the power to impact our lives.


Bad design can make us wrinkle our noses, and great design can open up doors for us and connect us to each other. This book provides insights, case studies and guides to help you design for social change!


Find Designing for Social Change on Amazon.


Ashley Wiskirchen


I believe good design can change the world. I've seen it happen, and hope to continue contributing to the world of design in practical ways. I think everyone should have access to well-thought-out informative design solutions to improve themselves, their businesses and their communities.

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