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How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer Paperback – October 30, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Debbie Millman and her interviewees conspire brilliantly to map the best thought and practice in the world of design." -- Grant McCracken, Research Affiliate, Convergence Culture Consortium (C3), MIT

"Offers outsiders a rare glimpse into the minds of designers. Millman gets such interesting interviews out of her subjects." -- Core 77

"A delightful opportunity to eavesdrop on some of the most curious and creative minds of our time." -- Malcolm Gladwell, author, The Tipping Point and Blink

"A journey to discover the motivations, ambitions and frustrations of successful designers working hard in a volatile profession." -- Communication Arts

"Anyone who struggles daily to create great work will be inspired and encouraged by these intimate glimpses into remarkable minds." -- Joyce Rutter Kaye, editor-in-chief, Print magazine

About the Author

Debbie Millman has worked in the design business for more than twenty-five years. She is president of the design division at Sterling Brands. She has been there for nearly fifteen years and in that time she has worked on the redesign of global brands for Pepsi, Procter & Gamble, Colgate, Nestle, and Hasbro. Millman is President of the AIGA, the largest professional association for design in the world. She is a contributing editor at Print Magazine, a design writer at FastCompany.com, and co-founder and chair of the Masters in Branding program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Her books are How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer, The Essential Principles of Graphic Design, Look Both Ways: Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life and Design, and Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits. She lives in New York City.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Allworth Press; 1st edition (October 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581154968
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581154962
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #149,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The title is all wrong! This is NOT a 'how to' book and it does not teach you how to think like a designer. I wish the title were not so deceptive.

Having said that, what it is, is a mesmerising collection of interviews with 20 well-known names in the world of design... Milton Glaser, Peter Saville, Stefan Sagmeister, Michael Bierut, Neville Brody to name a few. It is an absolutely delightful read.

At the end of the day, you may not learn anything from reading this book (what with one designer contradicting the other), but what you do get is realization that there isn't one single formula that makes a designer... they're all so different and unique in their thinking and their methods.

(This book would be a 5-star, but I HAD to deduct a star for the wrong title!)
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Format: Paperback
This book peers into the world of who's who in the graphic design profession. To a graphic design student, these luminaries are like the mythological Greek gods and goddesses of whom unyielding worshipers pay endless homage to. But you're in for a surprise, because in addition to them sharing their success stories and process, they become mere mortals as they also share their shortcomings, insecurities and vulnerabilities--causing them to appear that much more real, human, and "approachable". We see what makes them tick and what ignites their passion for design. There seems to be a common thread among many of the interviewed designers in the book--that they constantly re-evaluate and question their own work--just as any budding or seasoned designer does.

It's a relatively quick read. You can easily get immersed in the content, as it is very engaging. When reading, each designer's personality leaps off the page. You can get a sense of who the ego-maniacal type-A people are--who seek objective approval or validation of their work--and who the far less self-centered ones are, as they are not interested in "proving" themselves worthy of being called a designer. Some designers appear confident and overzealous, while some seem to be weathered and despondent. Overall, it's a good balance. ( sidebar: Chip Kidd is pure comedy gold!)

After reading this book, I would feel more comfortable initiating a conversation with Paula Scher if I randomly bumped into her in an elevator, or subway platform, rather then get all choked up in awe and fumble my words.

The book appropriately closes with an emotionally charged interview with Massimo Vignelli, which put quite simply is hilarious! Vignelli is funny without trying to be funny.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The title is a little misleading and might make you think it's a weird how to/recipe book for aspiring designers.
It's none of that. It's actually an excellent collection of interviews with top designers. They answer questions in a honest, open way.
And their experience is too valuable to miss.
Read it and keep it to read again as your career progresses.
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Format: Paperback
In my personal design career I haven't reached out to many other designers besides those that I've worked with or knew in school. Over the years I've generated many ideas in isolation, both positive and negative, about the industry, processes, industry's future, my own future, and my own viability and longevity within the industry. This book was interesting because at different points I actually found it as a pep talk cheering me on as I read about designers with similar, or even dead on exact, ideas as I had come to on my own. Other times, for the designers with different ideas, I found my mind opening up to their different concepts. Over all this book was very much worth the cost and the time to read. Interestingly though, as the author points out herself, the book really didn't have anything to do with 'how to' do anything! It was more of an over view of different designers and their ideas which I actually found more valuable than a traditional 'how to' anyway! Thanks to the author for putting it together!

-Zombie Jake
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
You get a glimpse of the diversity of personalities that have made a name for themselves in design. The book, like many others have noted, has misleading title. But it piqued my interest like it was intended to. I'm glad I came across it mainly because it is a breath of fresh air,
taking the focus off design technique and allowing one to understand the context of field of graphic design better. You get a little history and a little insight into common struggles facing designers. I wasn't wild about Millman's interviewing. I recommend "creativity" by mihaly Csikszentmihalyi if you like this book's style.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Love this book! It would be 5 stars but how far off the title is from what the book actually is lost it a star. This will not teach you to think like a graphic designer. However if your a graphic designer it's like learning our history straight from the heroes who were there. I love these interviews so much. This book is just fantastic!
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Format: Paperback
The biggest flaw of this book is maybe it's title. It makes it sound like a cheap "how to..." book, making you think you'll be told some sort of very secret graphic design techniques. The book however is a collection of interviews with some of the best designers nowadays. Some funny, some eye-opening, some already classic and maybe some even out-dated, all of them are a pleasure to read, that's for sure.
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