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Design Elements: A Graphic Style Manual Paperback – April 1, 2007

71 customer reviews

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Design Elements: A Graphic Style Manual + Thinking with Type, 2nd revised and expanded edition: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students + Making and Breaking the Grid: A Graphic Design Layout Workshop
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Timothy Samara is a New York City-based graphic designer and educator. His fifteen-year career, focused primarily on visual identity development, includes a diverse project history-from branding systems and user interfaces to books, animation, and architectural work. He is currently a member of the design faculty of the School of Visual Arts, Fashion Institute of Technology, Purchase College School of Art + Design, and New York University. He is the author of Making and Breaking the Grid, Typography Workbook, Publication Workbook, and Type Style Finder, all from Rockport Publishers. Tim lives in New York, NY.
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Product Details

  • Series: Design Elements
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Rockport Publishers; First Edition edition (April 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592532616
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592532612
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.8 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #330,073 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Timothy Samara is a graphic designer and educator based in New York City, where he teaches at the School of Visual Arts and Fashion Institute of Technology. He's also the author of Typography Workbook (Rockport 2004). He lives in New York's Chelsea district.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

137 of 140 people found the following review helpful By ZanBee on June 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
As a graphic designer with little academic preparation in the field (my college major was in psychology, supplemented by a handful of college-level art classes and several continuing education classes in Adobe software & printing technologies), I rely heavily on books for my continued growth and education. Over the past few years, I've amassed a rather large library of graphic design books. The vast majority of my collection falls into one of two categories - either "technical" (dealing with software & printing techniques) or "eye candy" (fun to look at and good for inspiring a new idea now and then, but not suited to actually improving my design skills). Timothy Samara's books are one of the few exceptions. I actually *read* his books and learn a great deal about design from them.

Design Elements is the best primer on graphic design I've encountered. It starts out with 20 rules for good design, while readily admitting that rules are meant to be broken, once you fully understand them and can break them *deliberately*. It goes on to cover the topics of form & space, color, typography, images, and layout. Finished examples are combined with simple thumbnail "studies" that illustrate the concepts quite well and provide you a springboard for playing around on your own. The textual portions are concise and well-written.

I heartily recommend this book for anyone seeking a serious, concise overview of all the major elements of graphic design - whether you're a student or a seasoned professional looking for a good reference book/refresher. Yes, there are books out there that cover each of these topics in much greater depth. But for what this book attempts to do, it does amazingly well.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Nathan Packer on October 10, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
From the design elements of a unique placement of page numbers in the margin to very colorful representations of design elements, this book is well-worth the price. Far to often, other books attempt to explain color rendering and shape meanings without investing in professional demonstrations of the concepts. The mechanics of type, the texture of form and space, and composition strategies are well presented. A veteran graphics designer will find this book a refreshing creativity stimulant, and the new designer will find this book a genesis of ideas. I reach for this book whenever I need some brain/eye design candy.

Ok, the book was not perfect. My technical communication background is the source of my quibble with the author's choice to use a light gray type in the body text against a white page. When the reader struggles with the difficulty of the read, there is a reduction in the transfer of information. It is as if to say, look only at the color because all the information is in the graphics - yet there was good information presented in the body text.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Joel Rosado on June 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
this book provides information in a simple manner but its visual details are distracting. one of my biggest criticisms of this books is the use of a grey body text color against white or light grey backgrounds which makes the legibility and patience to get through the body text painful.

However, samara provides some quick and easily accessible information where he uses the correct body text contrast and bigger visuals; including his 20 rules and basics of typography. I would moreso recommend ellen lupton's the new basics of graphic design and thinking with type as introductions but you can't really beat the value of this book at under $20
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Honest Opinion on July 19, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sorry, I should have read the other reviews warning how this book is impossible to read.

This book might contain useful information except that I can't read the damn thing. The typeface is extremely small, and it's light-gray on white. Some of the visual examples have captions with type that is less than 2mm high. Even with perfect vision you need a magnifying glass!

I've learned a little from this book from squinting, but I have to admit that this book is just too frustrating. I've been on Amazon probably since it opened, and this is going to be the first book I return.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful By J. Whiteside on October 31, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is unreadable. Most of it appears to be in about a 6 pt font. While open space can be a powerful part of graphic design, one should not create it by reducing type to that size typically reserved for legal disclaimers.

Additionally, it did not seem very well organized overall or on each individual page. Obviously done by a graphic artist who hates text. Next time hire a copywriter.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Joseph D. Kumzak on November 17, 2008
Format: Paperback
I have purchased a lot of books from Amazon; this is the first time I have actually taken the time to write a review. I have decided to take a minute to write this review simply because I am so impressed with this book.

I have been creating various media that involve graphic design; including web design, print material, graphics for video, etc., for about three years now. Like many other people, I am 100% self taught. I have never been to graphic design school or taken classes in the field. So I don't know the basic fundamentals of Graphic Design & color treatment, and often find myself struggling with creativity and coming up with ideas.

This book lays out the fundamentals really well. One of the nice things about this book is this; all of the examples are modern illustrations that you see in the real world today that reflect really good design. Not some hokie, boring examples that you see in a lot of other books. I have a lot more that I want to say but I will keep it short. I will say this; if you are like me a self taught web designer, print developer, or work with graphic design in any other capacity and struggle with ideas and creativity, YOU GOTTA GET THIS BOOK!!! This book is definitely opening new doors of creativity for me.

Joseph K.
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