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25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a current book on graphic design
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...
Published on June 10, 2008 by reader and maker

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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars At least the title wasn't The ABCs of Graphic Design
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...
Published on September 13, 2010 by Thomas John Zakrzewski


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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars At least the title wasn't The ABCs of Graphic Design, September 13, 2010
This review is from: Graphic Design: The New Basics (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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72 of 80 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great book for the non-graphic designer, April 25, 2008
By 
K. Lee (Orange County) - See all my reviews
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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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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, February 18, 2010
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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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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Promising title. Short on insight and meaningful content., December 4, 2012
This review is from: Graphic Design: The New Basics (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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25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a current book on graphic design, June 10, 2008
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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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent for learning!, May 2, 2008
this is the book i've always wanted to share with beginning graphic design students: a clear, articulated description of design principles for postmodern students. it defends enduring principles from the bauhaus, and introduces new ways of thinking about gd basics as transferrable skills.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect introduction for beginners and refresher for experts, December 29, 2012
By 
Amazon Customer (Rindge, NH, United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Graphic Design: The New Basics (Paperback)
First; It's not hard to imagine why this book is assigned to many first year Graphic Design Students. The book is wonderfully laid out with a great rhythm, once you get the pace of the book down it's an easy yet informative read. In the beginning of each chapter there's a full page example of that chapter's theme (let's take "Color" for example) on the left, and on the right is the two column essay on the topic. The proceeding pages are more examples on the specific theme; the best example is the diagram explaining "Value" and the difference between Shade, Tint, and Saturation.

The only specific problem with the essays at the beginning of each chapter is that they seem to be too lyrical for some people's tastes, as if the authors are trying too hard to make the descriptions of each design principal read more like a poem. Granted, for some new graphic designers this subject matter can be kind of dry and I appreciate the effort but the rest of the chapter after the initial essay seems specifically written for students who aren't heavy readers like I am. The shift from the poetic approach on page one to the specific "cut to the chase" writing style there after might seem confusing or contradictory to some readers.
The benefit of that of "Show, don't tell" approach for the rest of the chapter is that the comprehension and understanding of the design principals should be immediate to any graphic designer who actually earned a high school diploma and didn't receive only a "Certificate Of Attendance." The reader should look at the examples presented in this book while reading the captions to each picture or graphic, and immediately understand the concept of the principal being discussed. Even I had a couple of "Ah ha! That's what she/he/they meant by..." moments, and I've been in this field for quite some time. If you can't understand what these principals are when you finish this book, maybe you need to find another career.

A huge important aspect of this book is the captions next to the photographs and graphics; too many times when I'm reading any other book I tend to skim them. In "Graphic Design: The New Basics" the captions that go with the pictures and images IS the content of the book. Skip those captions and you're missing vast amount of important information and cheating yourself out of the value of these bound pages.

I will admit that there are two aspects of this book that I find wanting. The first is the lack of a conclusion or wrap-up in the end. I would have liked to have had some final words after the chapter on "Rules and Randomness." What did we just read and what does it all mean? Rather, what do the authors what us to take away from this book? Where's the final chapter that summarize the basics of Graphic Design and where do they think it's going? How about some of their own "on the job" experience? This book has an introduction that is worth reading which is why it's such a disappointment that there isn't a conclusion or "afterword."

Second, there are indeed lessons for this book on the companion website that aren't even mentioned in the book. There's just the link on the back cover to the website without any mention of what's there. After checking out the link, I didn't find any files there that were necessary for the lessons, there were strictly use whatever software you have and take your own initiative to get the work done.

Third; This is an ideal book for many graphic design pros to have on their desk when disagreements with non-creative people; consider it a picture dictionary for the uninitiated. Do they really mean "hierarchy" or do they really mean "balance" or "rhythm?" This book should also be on the shelf of anyone who works with Graphic Designers to make sure they don't look or sound like an idiot when expressing ideas or goals for a project.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Graphiic Design The new Basics, February 15, 2011
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This review is from: Graphic Design: The New Basics (Paperback)
The Book is great for students and just getting started in Graphic Design. Need more detailed information on layouts. Not meant to be a text book only an overview.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The short course...to the long road., August 4, 2008
By 
JUST ONE (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Graphic Design: The New Basics (Paperback)
Congratulations to Ellen Lupton for her contemporary take on the keystone of our visual culture: Graphic Design. This book is as good of a summary of the necessary skills and practices that are essential to contemporary communication design as I have ever seen. I was educated in graphic design in my undergrad by the legacy of modern design and Bauhaus pedagogy, even in the wake of the sweeping technological change that was occurring all around us. This book finally catches up on a curriculum and approach that would make sense for today. After working professionally as a graphic designer for 5 years, I'm currently enrolled in a graduate program for media design. My studies have shown me that graphic design is just the beginning, but a very necessary foundation for all kinds of design practices that our dynamic world requires. I would also commend her development of the Graphic Design Basics website which features exercises designed to supplement the topics covered in the book. Together the site and book represent a fairly off the shelf curriculum that would serve any designer(beginner to advanced) well to follow. All that would be left is years to practice...
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1.0 out of 5 stars Worst kindle book I've seen, weighs less than a paperback though so I'm stuck with it., September 10, 2014
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As far as the Kindle version of this book goes it's absolutely horrible. I'm able to get the assigned reading done for the class this book was required for but this is by far the worst ebook I've ever experienced. Pages in this book seem like a bad photocopy. There is actually a wrinkle scanned into almost every page that cuts out about a quarter of a line of text. There's enough text to figure out what the sentence says but it's persistent through the book. The book can only be read in landscape mode and the zooming focuses on paragraphs rather than being a normal zoom. Basically I would have been happier with a pdf of this book. At least then it would be compatible to read on anything besides an iPad. I ultimately stuck with this version because I hate carrying physical books but this was a huge disappointment considering it cost the same price as the paperback and I can't resell it when the class is done.
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Graphic Design: The New Basics
Graphic Design: The New Basics by Jennifer C. Phillips (Paperback - March 20, 2008)
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