How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer
Take a peek inside the heads of some of the world’s greatest living graphic designers. How do they think, how do they connect to others, what special skills do they have? In honest and revealing interviews, nineteen designers, including Stefan Sagmeister, Michael Beirut, David Carson, and Milton Glaser, share their approaches, processes, opinions, and thoughts about their work with noted brand designer Debbie Millman. The internet radio talk host of Design Matters, Millman persuades the greatest graphic designers of our time to speak frankly and openly about their work. How to Think Like a Great GraphicDesigners offers a rare opportunity to observe and understand the giants of the industry. Designers interviewed include: —Milton Glaser —Stefan Sagmeister —David Carson —Paula Scher —Abbott Miler —Lucille Tenazas —Paul Sahre —Emily Oberman and Bonnie Siegler —Chip Kidd —James Victore —Carin Goldberg —Michael Bierut —Seymour Chwast —Jessica Helfand and William Drenttel —Steff Geissbuhler —John MaedaAllworth Press, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing, publishes a broad range of books on the visual and performing arts, with emphasis on the business of art. Our titles cover subjects such as graphic design, theater, branding, fine art, photography, interior design, writing, acting, film, how to start careers, business and legal forms, business practices, and more. While we don't aspire to publish a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are deeply committed to quality books that help creative professionals succeed and thrive. We often publish in areas overlooked by other publishers and welcome the author whose expertise can help our audience of readers.

How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer Details

TitleHow to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer
Author
FormatPaperback
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 30th, 2007
PublisherAllworth Press
ISBN1581154968
ISBN-139781581154962
Number of pages248 pages
Rating
GenreDesign, Nonfiction, Art, Art Design, Business, How To

How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer Review

  • Bruce Green
    June 26, 2009
    This book contains a collection of interviews of graphic designers conducted by fellow designer Debbie Millman.As a designer doing a lot of web developing recently, reading this book is a perfect anodyne for those times when I hit a wall coding. I've met several of the subjects Debbie interviews but my brief intro's and questions only provided a glimpse of who they are. What's nice is that she infuses such shared experience and knowledge into each question that it brings out those responses I wa This book contains a collection of interviews of graphic designers conducted by fellow designer Debbie Millman.As a designer doing a lot of web developing recently, reading this book is a perfect anodyne for those times when I hit a wall coding. I've met several of the subjects Debbie interviews but my brief intro's and questions only provided a glimpse of who they are. What's nice is that she infuses such shared experience and knowledge into each question that it brings out those responses I was looking for.It's heartening and encouraging to hear "rock star" designers confess their human failings. They just work harder than most.
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  • Nelson Zagalo
    March 17, 2015
    Debbie Millman was able to build an highly enjoyable journey through the minds of celebrated designers. We get to understand how they think, what motivates them, what makes them anger, fear, content and happy. If you want to be a designer, this book is obligatory. If you want to know how a mind of a designer works, read this book. If you want a glimpse on the creative thought, its challenges, concerns, disruptions, deficiencies as its marvels, read this book.More in my blog (PT) - http://virtual Debbie Millman was able to build an highly enjoyable journey through the minds of celebrated designers. We get to understand how they think, what motivates them, what makes them anger, fear, content and happy. If you want to be a designer, this book is obligatory. If you want to know how a mind of a designer works, read this book. If you want a glimpse on the creative thought, its challenges, concerns, disruptions, deficiencies as its marvels, read this book.More in my blog (PT) - http://virtual-illusion.blogspot.com/...
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  • Megan
    January 25, 2009
    This was not only a great read as a graphic designer (finding insight into some fantastically talented creative minds), but also a thoughtful journey into what vocation means...how we are called to some tasks and find pleasure in them. This book made me think a lot about what I love and what I want to do and learn more about and pursue. It was creatively inspiring without being a myopic designer's book--I felt less torn about wanting to do a million things and being interested in everything. I a This was not only a great read as a graphic designer (finding insight into some fantastically talented creative minds), but also a thoughtful journey into what vocation means...how we are called to some tasks and find pleasure in them. This book made me think a lot about what I love and what I want to do and learn more about and pursue. It was creatively inspiring without being a myopic designer's book--I felt less torn about wanting to do a million things and being interested in everything. I appreciated that the interviewees were humble and human--this is not a pretentious coffee table book, but real conversations between human beings discussing what it means to create and fail and break molds.
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  • Michael
    December 28, 2010
    As other reviewers have pointed out, a more appropriate, if maybe not as sales-worthy title for this book would be, "Thoughts of the Great Graphic Designers". It contains a series of interviews with the some of the most recognizable names in graphic design - this is not a how-to book! Still, if you take the contents of the interviews to heart, I think there's a lot of inspiration anyone can take away.My review would be more positive except for the few interviews that wound up being conducted by As other reviewers have pointed out, a more appropriate, if maybe not as sales-worthy title for this book would be, "Thoughts of the Great Graphic Designers". It contains a series of interviews with the some of the most recognizable names in graphic design - this is not a how-to book! Still, if you take the contents of the interviews to heart, I think there's a lot of inspiration anyone can take away.My review would be more positive except for the few interviews that wound up being conducted by email or phone. When compared with the content that the author was able to capture from those she sat and talked with directly, the other sections are shallow and uninteresting.
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  • Skyler Vander Molen
    February 15, 2012
    While a book of interviews wasn't what I expected when I originally bought it, this book was ok. There are some real gems in here. The funny thing is in almost every single case, whether or not I a particular interview had nothing to do with the person being interviewed or what they said, but how the interview was conducted. Almost every interview conducted via email felt flat and lifeless. The ones done in person came to life and engaged me. I realize it's not always possible to conduct in pers While a book of interviews wasn't what I expected when I originally bought it, this book was ok. There are some real gems in here. The funny thing is in almost every single case, whether or not I a particular interview had nothing to do with the person being interviewed or what they said, but how the interview was conducted. Almost every interview conducted via email felt flat and lifeless. The ones done in person came to life and engaged me. I realize it's not always possible to conduct in person interviews, but I can't help but wonder what this book would've been like had all the email interviews been done in person instead.
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  • Igor
    December 10, 2012
    Insightful!
  • David
    October 6, 2013
    I recently saw a great exhibit called the HAPPY SHOW at the Chicago Cultural Center. The exhibit was the work of graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister depicting recent research about the nature of happiness. A couple of the primary lessons I took from it was that besides from the death of a child and having a relative with alzheimers happiness is not related substantially to external circumstances. Also after about $80,000 dollars per year the basic contentment and happiness of an individual does n I recently saw a great exhibit called the HAPPY SHOW at the Chicago Cultural Center. The exhibit was the work of graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister depicting recent research about the nature of happiness. A couple of the primary lessons I took from it was that besides from the death of a child and having a relative with alzheimers happiness is not related substantially to external circumstances. Also after about $80,000 dollars per year the basic contentment and happiness of an individual does not increase with more income. The whole show inspired me. It took an interesting topic and presented it in fun and engaging ways. It made me start to think about my own map making work as it relates to graphic design and being engaging.Stefan Sagmeister, among a number of other influential New York based graphic designers, is interviewed in this book by Debbie Millman. Her interviews are chummy and intellectual. She asks open questions with genuine admiration for her interviewee. Although, at times the designers were a bit pretentious with a very New Yorker sophistication and snobbery because of their success it felt excusable. I did gain a deeper appreciation for graphic design as a medium and gained new ways to think about my own graphic work.A number of designers discussed how graphic design has qualities of problem solving to develop ideas that communicate clearly while still appearing fresh. They emphasized the distinction between fine art making, where the artist is most interested in expressing themselves, and the graphic artist who is concerned with communicating very specific ideas accessibly. One designer discussed the importance of invested ambiguity which is a method of guiding the viewer using common symbols, such as "I [heart] NY" which uses the heart to symbolize love but is ambiguous enough to be appreciated by all kinds of people (I wonder if that is why certain fashion designers choose more androgynous models to allow the style to be more ambiguous and accessible to everyone instead of women or men).As for map making the most valuable discussions were about fonts and the way fonts and language communicate moods. Apparently the most neutral font is Helvitica and Futura. One designer talked about how Bodoni is perfection- which made me feel good because I use that for all the titles in my maps. I hope to integrate some of the ideas from this book in some of my symbol choices and in the notion of finding the simplest most essential depiction to communicate information.
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  • Jaycruz Cruz
    January 25, 2013
    As a brand new Graphic Design student specializing in Interactive Design, this book has been a great introduction to who's who in the industry. With the exception of maybe Massimo Vignelli and some of the other people that appeared on the film Helvetica, I had no idea who most of these people were. As a matter of fact, my first assignment for my Graphic Design Essentials class was to pick a designer from a list. I picked Stefan Sagmeister without really knowing that much about him, except that h As a brand new Graphic Design student specializing in Interactive Design, this book has been a great introduction to who's who in the industry. With the exception of maybe Massimo Vignelli and some of the other people that appeared on the film Helvetica, I had no idea who most of these people were. As a matter of fact, my first assignment for my Graphic Design Essentials class was to pick a designer from a list. I picked Stefan Sagmeister without really knowing that much about him, except that he takes long sabbaticals. Sagmeister is great, but I probably would have picked Peter Saville if I known about him first. Debbie Millman is a wonderful interviewer too. I been catching up with the Design Matters podcast. The book is kind of like reading the Design Matters podcast. She asks each designer the same set of questions, but each one gives a unique and interesting answer. My favorites were Chip Kidd, Peter Saville, and Massimo Vignelli.Overall it's a nice short little book and perfect for those interested in the field of design. The ebook version on Amazon is just 3.47 so there's no excuse.
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  • Todd
    December 1, 2009
    While frequently an exercise in navel gazing, which at least Chip Kidd denigrates in his interview, the book provides some validation for a series of creative bromides. Namely:* hard work is the only path to success, but no guarantee* many times the only way to know if something is good is to know its finished* many times the only way to know if something is finished is when you run out of time (about 1/2 the interviewees felt this way)* being principled about the clients and project you take on While frequently an exercise in navel gazing, which at least Chip Kidd denigrates in his interview, the book provides some validation for a series of creative bromides. Namely:* hard work is the only path to success, but no guarantee* many times the only way to know if something is good is to know its finished* many times the only way to know if something is finished is when you run out of time (about 1/2 the interviewees felt this way)* being principled about the clients and project you take on is the only way to ensure you have the opportunity to do great workThe inclusion of Vaughan Oliver seems cruel. He clearly pines for pre-computer-based design and has not made the transition as well as the others included here. He also underlines his financial troubles while everyone else seems to disassociate themselves from their material success, or at least wring their hands over it.The occasional personal reference by one interviewee to another can come off as cliqueish. Nevertheless, wonderful conversations with Michael Beirut, Chipp Kidd, John Maeda, Milton Glaser, Stefan Sagmeister, Emily Oberman/Bonnie Seigler and others.
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  • Brian Behm
    December 26, 2012
    While it was reassuring reading that so many great designers exhibit tendencies and neuroses that are familiar to me it was also a little distressing hearing meticulously detailed philosophies on some designers work and how it should be done and then comparing it to my own methodology which is much more instinctual and less able to be articulated. I suppose it's a reminder that I need to be able to better articulate my philosophies. The interviews kind of blended together aftera while. As much a While it was reassuring reading that so many great designers exhibit tendencies and neuroses that are familiar to me it was also a little distressing hearing meticulously detailed philosophies on some designers work and how it should be done and then comparing it to my own methodology which is much more instinctual and less able to be articulated. I suppose it's a reminder that I need to be able to better articulate my philosophies. The interviews kind of blended together aftera while. As much as I wanted to specifically remember who i was reading about, by the end I was paying more attention to their story than their identity and since generally their names are only mentioned once (and for the most part didn't initially mean anything to me anyway) if have to go back at the end to remind myself whose interview I'd read. Anyway, it's a worthwhile and enjoyable read.'i think i like the languidness of the author's design observer podcast better, but it was a good enough read so as to have been worthwhile.
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  • Melanie
    June 5, 2008
    Don't judge this book by it's cover and assume this little gem is going to tell you how to become some great graphic designer. Millman's collection of interviews with some of the greatest graphic designers alive today gives us an inside little peek into what they believe in, how they process design, their first creative moments and their biggest influences in design. All while revealing a bit of their personalities (along with some of their greatest strategies). If you're a designer like myself Don't judge this book by it's cover and assume this little gem is going to tell you how to become some great graphic designer. Millman's collection of interviews with some of the greatest graphic designers alive today gives us an inside little peek into what they believe in, how they process design, their first creative moments and their biggest influences in design. All while revealing a bit of their personalities (along with some of their greatest strategies). If you're a designer like myself who struggles with the ongoing debate of design in marketing and advertising (and who are, like myself, believers in the first things first manifesto while daily selling her/his soul away) this book, just might, help give you some insight on how to "make it all work".
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  • Don ツ
    October 16, 2014
    Sesekali baca buku non-fiction best gak!Sesi dialog dengan Massimo Vignelli, beliau menangis bila ditanya; When was the last time you cried? & ia kerana beliau kehilangan seorang teman. Alan Fletcher [penulis buku The Art of Looking Sideways<-- terus ambil buku ni kat rak dan buka, menarik sebab ambil masa 18 tahun nak tulis. Tak sangka penulisnya dah takda]--dan sesi temuramah dengan graphic designer yang lain.Tetiba, macam nak jadi seorang GD.Pastinya, buku ni menarik sebab cara orang ' Sesekali baca buku non-fiction best gak!Sesi dialog dengan Massimo Vignelli, beliau menangis bila ditanya; When was the last time you cried? & ia kerana beliau kehilangan seorang teman. Alan Fletcher [penulis buku The Art of Looking Sideways<-- terus ambil buku ni kat rak dan buka, menarik sebab ambil masa 18 tahun nak tulis. Tak sangka penulisnya dah takda]--dan sesi temuramah dengan graphic designer yang lain.Tetiba, macam nak jadi seorang GD.Pastinya, buku ni menarik sebab cara orang 'seni' berfikir dari luar kotak. +ve energy yang mereka keluarkan. Sehingga terhasil banyak perkara indah.Soalan yang ditanya pun lebih mudah, contoh--tetiba ada soalan: how you define love? eh...:))
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  • Saleh
    November 17, 2015
    My star rating for this book is for the medium, and not the content. I enjoy and find the "Design Matters" podcast with Debbie's own and the interviewee's own voice much more interesting, entertaining, lively, and engaging.I myself don't find interview books to be a competitive fit in the presence of recordings and video. It's somewhat disappointing in fact. I would expect that Debbie, with all the interviews she conducted about design, should be very aware of the importance of the right communi My star rating for this book is for the medium, and not the content. I enjoy and find the "Design Matters" podcast with Debbie's own and the interviewee's own voice much more interesting, entertaining, lively, and engaging.I myself don't find interview books to be a competitive fit in the presence of recordings and video. It's somewhat disappointing in fact. I would expect that Debbie, with all the interviews she conducted about design, should be very aware of the importance of the right communication medium for a particular information format. Despite the expectations, she decided to publish a book of interviews apparently for the sake of publishing a book?
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  • Emily
    January 23, 2012
    See full review hereI was required to read this for a class of mine, but it surprised me. The book features, simply, interviews with a number of well-known designers (or if you don’t know of them, and you are a designer - get to know them!) I expected to hear much of the same throughout the interviews but every designer in this book offers such unique perspectives, styles, and introspective into this field and how to manage it financially, ethically, and personally. Design is an art, and these a See full review hereI was required to read this for a class of mine, but it surprised me. The book features, simply, interviews with a number of well-known designers (or if you don’t know of them, and you are a designer - get to know them!) I expected to hear much of the same throughout the interviews but every designer in this book offers such unique perspectives, styles, and introspective into this field and how to manage it financially, ethically, and personally. Design is an art, and these are some wonderful people who know the value of it.
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  • Marc
    February 22, 2011
    There's some really fantastic advice in here for any creative. Bring a highlighter with you when you read it. My Kindle app shows that I've made over 120 notes and marks in this book.For the most part, the interviews are with people who are paid to put a special focus on identifying problems that can only be solved through the application of intuition. And the remarks on intuition are varied and fascinating.The author spends a lot of time threading her personal experience through the book, which There's some really fantastic advice in here for any creative. Bring a highlighter with you when you read it. My Kindle app shows that I've made over 120 notes and marks in this book.For the most part, the interviews are with people who are paid to put a special focus on identifying problems that can only be solved through the application of intuition. And the remarks on intuition are varied and fascinating.The author spends a lot of time threading her personal experience through the book, which isn't terribly annoying but worth overlooking at times.
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  • Gary
    September 24, 2016
    This is one of those books that spins you into more research, more reading, more digging.I liked reading the interviews for the designers I already knew about. I was intrigued to learn about the ones I wasn't familiar with.The quality of the interviews seems to vary a great deal. It's obvious when some of them a clearly written correspondence and others are more natural language and the conversation flows into unintended areas—the unintended were more interesting.I've always enjoyed Debbie Millm This is one of those books that spins you into more research, more reading, more digging.I liked reading the interviews for the designers I already knew about. I was intrigued to learn about the ones I wasn't familiar with.The quality of the interviews seems to vary a great deal. It's obvious when some of them a clearly written correspondence and others are more natural language and the conversation flows into unintended areas—the unintended were more interesting.I've always enjoyed Debbie Millman's podcast—this book was a nice aside.
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  • kelly
    September 6, 2013
    I'd rather watch or listen to these interviews than read them. There were so many instances I found myself wondering exactly how they said that, or what the look on their face was, what their energy and mannerisms were like. The Milton Glaser interview was most interesting to me. It's the only one I copied quotes from. The rest start to blend together and just serve as a reminder that yes, everyone thinks differently, there's no one right way to do it, and the paths to so-called greatness are ma I'd rather watch or listen to these interviews than read them. There were so many instances I found myself wondering exactly how they said that, or what the look on their face was, what their energy and mannerisms were like. The Milton Glaser interview was most interesting to me. It's the only one I copied quotes from. The rest start to blend together and just serve as a reminder that yes, everyone thinks differently, there's no one right way to do it, and the paths to so-called greatness are many.
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  • Kent Winward
    October 23, 2013
    I enjoyed this exercise in going to an area which I really have no affinity other than enjoying and being fascinated by book covers. I was surprised at the similarities between the writing and graphic design world. There also seemed to be a lot of cross over and I was intrigued by how the different artists approached their work and dealt with the inherent paradox of art versus commercial. The presence of the audience is front and center in graphic design, maybe it should be in every art form.
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  • Abby
    May 31, 2013
    Loved this book even though it took me forever to read it all. I'm not a non-fiction person, but the bite-sized interviews were fantastic to sit down and read one or two at a time. I purchased the book after reading about half of it and I think I'll want to go back and re-read and, although I usually don't write in books, underline, make notes, really digest it. Things take a few reads to really get in your bones and there are so many gems of affirming thoughts in here that make me feel like I d Loved this book even though it took me forever to read it all. I'm not a non-fiction person, but the bite-sized interviews were fantastic to sit down and read one or two at a time. I purchased the book after reading about half of it and I think I'll want to go back and re-read and, although I usually don't write in books, underline, make notes, really digest it. Things take a few reads to really get in your bones and there are so many gems of affirming thoughts in here that make me feel like I do actually belong in design even though I rarely feel that when I'm in class.
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  • Eric
    September 7, 2010
    Admittedly, I haven't really connected to the live radio show interviews of design glitterati the author conducts, but these print interviews (whether culled from the radio show or not) are indispensable for young and seasoned designers alike. Peter Saville's insightful, cerebral, and ultimately cynical comments are worth the price of the book alone, even if they might leave the most optimistic of designers thinking much less of their craft.
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  • Ida
    December 25, 2007
    This book was an impulse buy after receiving some less than hopefully feedback at design school. The interviews with top graphic designers reveal the varied personalities and strategies behind great design. Some interesting themes that came up include pessimism with design's place in relation to advertising, lack of confidence in evaluating one's own work, and the question of weather graphic design is art or not.
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  • Bek
    August 14, 2013
    Interesting, but fairly self indulgent for designers to read. Some interviews are better than others but the format became stale after a 6 or 7 interviews. Made the design world seem super tiny + impossible to be successful in unless you know this core group of people ... Or maybe she only interviewed her friends. I have a general dislike for Stefan Sagmeister, so I did really ready his interview.
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  • Salem
    January 3, 2011
    A very entertaining quick read. It’ll grab you. Design Matters, the radio show in which Debbie Millman interviews designers and design-related figures, is always inspiring. In print, the interviews are more structured, losing a bit of the show’s spontaneity, but still as fascinating. Also, Michael Beirut is the man.
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  • James Mason
    May 3, 2016
    Moderately interesting interviews with graphic designers. I learned a little but not as much as I'd hoped for a book of this length. There were some interesting stories. The interview style was good. The one common thread for many of the interviewees was the "need to do something different in each project" and the insecurity of repeating themselves as "creative people".
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  • Nika Pika
    September 18, 2016
    This is one of the best books I've read on design. I'm a designer myself so it was good to have a little look in other sucsesfull designers minds. I did not like the interviews that were done via email and you could see the inconsistency with the others much more genuine interviews. Nevertheless I respect the author and her work and deffenetly recomend this book.
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  • Kelly Ashworth
    January 31, 2010
    Great insights, but this book borderlines on the cliché with all but one designer droning on about the "horrible" state of the industry. The title is a bit misleading - you're not going to learn about process per se. But altogether very cool to get inside the heads of some of todays most prolific designers.
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  • Roberto
    January 7, 2014
    This is not a how-to book, but a compilation of interviews with renowned designers. The questions asked are related to the designer’s life, career, and design in general. Is a privilege to be able to get a snoop into these great thinkers' minds and learn from their experiences. This book is an insightful, brief, and easy read for those interested in graphic design.
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  • Margaret Fleming
    September 2, 2009
    This book, as Malcolm Gladwell writes in his cover blog, is not really about design. Except it is, insofar as juggling creativity with business and how a star draws a line that allows him to continue the business without lowering the bar. It inspires me, and it let me learn about the credo of greats like Massimo Vignelli.
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  • Maple
    February 15, 2013
    Title is misleading, I wish it were named "Interviews with Influential Graphic Designers." With that mentality, I wouldn't have expected to learn how to think like a great graphic designer. It was interesting to read and learn about graphic designers, but that wasn't the reason why I picked up the book.
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  • Ravi
    June 26, 2008
    Very honest, open interviews with the world's top graphic designers. Not really about graphic design, but the challenges in remaining creative, using business to inspire, and elevating the practice. And shows a fair amount of crazy through the interview, which is pretty interesting stuff. Even the very first interview - with Michael Beirut - is worth the book.
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