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Graphic Design: The New Basics Hardcover – May 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


"Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips introduces key concepts of visual language in graphic design." --Publishers Weekly, January 21, 2008


"A tome on the basics of form. (Graphic Design:The New Basics) illuminates the gray areas between software and visual thinking, and as the introduction states, shows 'how to build richness and complexity around simple relationships.'"

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press; 1 edition (May 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568987706
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568987705
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #633,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 82 people found the following review helpful By K. Lee on April 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a great overview for the vocabularies of print design. Technically, I am an illustration student, but I have been taking graphic design courses at my school. That being said, alot of the stuff being covered here would fall under the basic design courses at my school: Design 1 and Design 2. The information in this book ( I've read 2/3 so far) covers basic compositional structures, hue/ value/ saturation, and other good fundamentals, but doesn't give you more than a paragraph. This is a GREAT coffee table book to give you ideas on your current project, but it is by no means textbook-grade learning for graphic design. It simply does not go into enough depth in order to become a great learning tool. I just wish there were more professional examples rather than student-created ones.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Thomas John Zakrzewski on September 13, 2010
Format: Paperback
I bought this book sight unseen, based on the authors' reputations and the mostly good reviews. Sorry to say it, but the textual content of this book is the verbal equivalent of bad stick figure drawings badly layed out. I can only conclude that right-brained graphics-oriented people shouldn't be allowed to explain what it is they do. For me, this book has too many statements that are so abstractly vague or universally applicable as to be meaningless, plus a fair share of contradictory statements, some within a paragraph and others within even a single sentence.

Zooming out, if you are looking to this book for cohesive, practical guidelines for implementing these "New Basics", look no further than the back cover where you'll find the chapter names listed, each of which represents a basic graphic design element. Then go out and analyze some award-winning designs with these chapter titles in mind. The example designs reproduced in the book seem to be mostly a showcase for the works of the authors' students. I found many of them quite pleasing, and since they made it into the book, I assume they are "good design". Based on what I learned from the text, I can't really say.
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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Louis B. Dina on February 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I was very disappointed in this book. Given the title, I expected more cohesive guidelines and analysis on assembling the "New Basics" into my designs. To me, it was primarily a showcase of work done by the authors' students, some of which I enjoyed, but I didn't find it very helpful or insightful. In fact, I returned it for a refund.

Also, I found some of the type so small as to be unreadable, which for experienced designers, I found surprising. Not high on my list, obviously. I expect a title and/or subtitle to deliver on its implied promise. Perhaps I totally misunderstood the intent of the book, but I expected something that would weave these so-called new basics into a whole, provide direction, and help me produce better designs. Maybe that happens over the course of time in class, but I didn't see that happening in the book.

If you're looking for guidance and direction, I don't think this is the book for you. It wasn't for me.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By TGD on December 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
I purchased and reviewed this book when a student of mine (who turned out to be a top performer) complained that, "It's a cover and some pictures and nothing in between. It doesn't explain anything."

Sadly, I have to confirm her analysis. As a design instructor, I'll say flatly that this book simply does not contain what you need to know to understand the fundamentals of design.

This book is not a design text at all, but rather a collection of student art exercises (not design exercises, as the book title would imply).

The chapter outline does list a smattering of the fundamental concepts of design. But the book is devoid of any content, visual or verbal, that clearly explains the concepts it does mention.

Further, the book is missing many critical basic concepts, especially those developed in the last couple of decades (which is odd given the title).

As such, it does nothing to prepare a student to make informed decisions in the discipline of visual design.

If you just want to look at some pictures of interesting student art projects, this book might be worth the $20. Even then, there are much better books.
But, if you want even a basic primer in the discipline of visual design, you'll need to look elsewhere.

If you were uninformed when you started this book, you'd be uninformed when you finished.

Visual design and its parent discipline, communications design, are in the midst of an explosive and exciting revolution of understanding.

But this book is not a window into that body of rapidly evolving knowledge.
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28 of 36 people found the following review helpful By reader and maker on June 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
When Ellen Lupton released her wonderful book, "Thinking with Type," I adopted as a required text for my college typography course. Not only did I admire the thinking behind the writing and structure, but my students LOVED the book.

When I learned about this new book written with Jennifer Cole Phillips I pre-ordered it immediately. Now that I've read it, I'm thrilled with their effort and am eager to use it as the text in my Graphic Design 1 class.

This book provides current examples that both illustrate classic principles of Graphic Design and explore the edges of current design thinking. I appreciate the use of student examples rather than just using professional, commercial work. There are plenty of annual reviews of commercial work by publishing houses such as Rockport. The student work tends to take more risks and be more provocative. It will provide more room for discussion, debate and inspiration in a classroom setting.

While not extensive, the text in the book is concise and well-written. Paired with the bountiful examples, it makes the subject accessible to graphic design students or to anyone interested in learning more about design on their own.

The book introduces enough about typography to whet one's appetite for more (check out "Thinking with Type" for that) and introduces basics about Motion Graphics ("Moving Type" by Matt Woolman was and still is great for learning more - it is out of print now but still relevant if you can find it.)

Princeton Architectural Press should be commended for producing such a quality book at such and affordable price.
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