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This reading and media list includes books, films, magazines and websites — not all of which are directly related to art and design. However, since the role of creative work is in part to talk to the world, I think you can find something that relates to or enhances your understanding of art and design in all of these items.

Go to Books and Essays, Film and Television, Periodicals and Internet, or People.

Books and Essays

Notes on the Synthesis of Form by Christopher Alexander

Avant-Garde Page Design by Jarosluv Andel

Inside the Word by Phillipe Appeloig

A Century of Graphic Design by Jeremy Aynsley

Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes

Barthes speaks about the idea of the “punctum” as the thing in a photograph that is wholly consuming and magical. The punctum is an important element that I strive to find in my work with optical visualization.

Mythologies by Roland Barthes

The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Walter Benjamin

Benjamin’s seminal 1936 essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” speaks about nascent mediums of art and design such as film and photography, and speculates on the affordances of these new technologies and how the aura of the work changes.

79 Short Essays on Design by Michael Bierut

Edward Fella: Letters on America by Blackwell & Wild

Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges

The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst

A Short History of the Printed Word by Robert Bringhurst

The Solid Form of Language by Robert Bringhurst

History of the Poster by Josef & Shizuko Brockman

136 Points of Reference by Ellery Browns

Active Literature: Jan Tschichold and New Typography by Christopher Burke

How Music Works by David Byrne

I Am Almost Always Hungry by Cahan + Associates

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

The Shape of Design by Frank Chimero

The Debate by Wim Crouwel and Jan van Toorn

James Welling Monograph by James Crump

I find Welling’s work to be a wonderful examination of graphic form used in a photographic medium — the forms and structures he gets out of a camera are assertive and surprising.

Graphic Design for the 21st Century by Peter Fiell

The Circle by Dave Eggers

Inside the Painters’ Studio by Joe Fig

The Art of Looking Sideways by Alan Fletcher

The Business Side of Creativity by Cameron Foote

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace

Working Title by Piet Gerards

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Visualizing Research by Gray & Malins

Designing Design by Kenya Hara

Design Literacy 1 + 2 by Steven Heller

Graphic Design Manual by Armin Hofmann

Graphic Design A Concise History by Richard Hollis

Black & White Photography by Henry Horenstein

Chasing the Perfect by Natalia Ilyin

Emergence by Steven Johnson

Essays on Design by John Christopher Jones

A Type Primer by John Kane

Tellmewhy by Karlssonwilker

The Cheese Monkeys by Chip Kidd

Robert Brownjohn: Sex And Typography by Emily King

Typography: Macro- and Microaesthetics by Willi Kunz

Countersign by Daniel Libeskind

A study of complexity and ambiguity in the early, as yet unbuilt work of architect Daniel Libeskind. His work as a paper architect is intriguing and reveals a deep, highly conceptual design process I admire.

The Space of Encounter by Daniel Libeskind

Einstein’s Dreams by Allan Lightman

El Lissitzky by Sofia Lissitzky-Coopers

Graphic Design; The New Basics by Ellen Lupton & Jennifer Cole Phillips

Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton

Ed Ruscha by Richard Marshall

A Smile in the Mind by Beryl McAlhone

Jan Tschichold: A Life in Typography by Ruari McLean

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

The Medium is the Massage by Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore

A History of Graphic Design by Philip B. Meggs

Design Writing Research by Miller & Lupton

A Designers Perspective by Bruno Monguzzi

Vision in Motion by László Moholy-Nagy

This book is presented as an examination of nascent art and design, from styles like Cubism to mediums like motion and photography and how the artist relates to the rest of the word. Moholy-Nagy’s exploration of how this book itself is laid out — with images accompanying the text, not just collected together — is an early example of the integration of type and image.

Morphosis Buildings and Projects by Morphosis Architects

Designing Interactions by Bill Moggridge

Designing Media by Bill Moggridge

Grid Systems in Graphic Design by Josef Müller-Brockmann

A History of Visual Communication by Josef Müller-Brockmann

Bruno Munari: Original Xerographies by Bruno Munari

Design As Art by Bruno Munari

This Rimy River: Vaughn Oliver and Graphic Works 1988-94 by Vaughn Oliver

Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk

Draw It With Your Eyes Closed: The Art of the Art Assignment by Paper Monument

Design without Boundaries: Visual Communication in Transition by Rick Poynor

Jan Van Toorn: Critical Practice by Rick Poynor

No More Rules: Graphic Design and Postmodernism by Rick Poynor

An examination of postmodern design and designers, specifically their attitudes towards the previously established rules of what graphic design is. A section on Deconstruction is of particular interest to me in how these designers tear down typical modes of communication to make something previously unconsidered.

A Designers Art by Paul Rand

100 Pictures by Gerhard Richter

The Anarchy of Silence: John Cage and Experimental Art by Julia Robinson

A collection of Cage’s musical work, noting his use of chance operations and unusual materials in his compositions, and how unexpected occurrences manifest themselves in performances of Cage’s work.

Multiple Signatures by Michael Rock

Typography by Emil Ruder

The Soul of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman

Wooden Boats by Michael Ruhlman

The Situationist City by Simon Sadler

Tree of Codes by Jonathan Safran Foer

Designed by Peter Saville by Peter Saville

Hella Jongerius: Misfit by Louise Schouwenberg

How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul by Adrian Shaunessy

Graphic Design Process by Nancy Skolos and Thomas Wedell

Type, Image, Message by Nancy Skolos and Thomas Wedell

Skolos + Wedell’s process of working from form to content via collage has been tremendously influential on how I approach design; as well as their extensive use of the camera as a tool for form making.

The Art of Critical Making by Somerson & Hermano

On Photography by Susan Sontag

Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works by Erik Spiekermann

The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp

washsoakrinsespin by Tolleson Design

Vas: An Opera in Flatland by Steve Tomasulla

Bareback: A Tomato Project by Tomato

Process: A Tomato Project by Tomato

This is a collection of words and visuals from the design collective Tomato, who are involved in various media including print, music and video. The nonlinear and ambiguous nature of the work presented here clarifies that the process, not the product, is what the reader is asked to consider in this book.

Type Design: Radical Innovations and Experiments by Teall Triggs

New Typography by Jan Tschichold

Envisioning Information by Edward Tufte

It Is Beautiful — Then Gone by Martin Venezky

Venezky calls the space between obvious and more removed relationships the “poetic gap”, and is a prominent feature in his work, which results in projects that are poetic and unexpected.

Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture by Robert Venturi

The Floating World; Ukiyo-e by John Warwicker

Mapping by Anne West

Paperwork + More Paperwork by Nancy Williams

Film and Television

24 Hour Party People, directed by Michael Winterbottom, 2002

8 1/2, directed by Federico Fellini, 1963

The Act of Killing, directed by Joshua Oppenheimer, 2013

This is a nearly unbelievable film based on a meta-commentary about genocide and human cruelty, as told through the lens of cinema. An unnerving example of “film-within-a-film” that helps explain atrocities by abstracting them into action-movie tropes, which are portrayed by the actual participants in the Indonesian killings of the 1960s.

Adaptation, directed by Spike Jonze, 2002

Amores Perros, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2000

Art21: Art in the Twenty-First Century, directed by Various, 2002–

Blade Runner (Director’s Cut), directed by Ridley Scott, 1982

Barton Fink, directed by The Coen Brothers, 1991

Basquiat, directed by Julian Schnabel, 2001

Be Kind Rewind, directed by Michel Gondry, 2008

The Big Lebowski, directed by The Coen Brothers. 1998

Blow-Up, directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966

Brazil, directed by Terry Gilliam, 1985

Brick, directed by Rian Johnson, 2005

Chinatown, directed by Roman Polanski, 1974

City of God, directed by Fernando Meirelles, 2002

The Conformist, directed by Bernardo Bertolucchi, 1970

The Conversation, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, 1974

Dark City, directed by Alex Proyas, 1998

David Hockney: Secret Knowledge, directed by Randall Wright, 2003

The Diving Bell & The Butterfly, directed by Julian Schnabel, 2008

Encounters at the End of The World, directed by Werner Herzog, 2007

Exit Through the Gift Shop, directed by Banksy, 2010

Enter the Void, directed by Gaspar Noé, 2009

Fantastic Mr. Fox, directed by Wes Anderson, 2009

The Five Obstructions, directed by Lars von Trier & Jørgen Leth, 2003

Director Lars von Trier challenges his mentor Jørgen Leth to remake one of Leth’s short films five different times with various—and often ridiculous—restrictions. A fascinating examination of the design process and how arbitrary limitations can beget unanticipated and delightful results.

Gerhard Richter Painting, directed by Corinna Belz, 2011

Helvetica, directed by Gary Hustwit, 2007

Holy Motors, directed by Leos Carax, 2012

Idiocracy, directed by Mike Judge, 2006

The Imposter, directed by Bart Layton, 2012

Beyond the twists and turns of the narrative being told, the way Layton layers and constructs this story of deception is reflected visually in how you experience the film through form and editing. Your perception is constantly on edge while watching the story unfold.

Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy?, directed by Michel Gondry, 2013

It Might Get Loud, directed by Davis Guggenheim, 2009

Joy Division, directed by Grant Gee, 2007

The Kid Stays in the Picture, directed by Burstein & Morgen, 2002

Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out Of Balance, directed by Godfrey Reggio, 1982

Man On Wire, directed by James Marsh, 2008

Objectified, directed by Gary Hustwit, 2009

Our Town, directed by James Naughton, 2003

Pi, directed by Darren Aaronofsky, 1998

Playtime, directed by Jacques Tati, 1967

Phantom Museums: The Short Films of the Quay Brothers, directed by Stephen & Timothy Quay, 2007

Pulp Fiction, directed by Quentin Tarantino, 1994

Requiem for a Dream, directed by Darren Aaronofsky, 2000

Rushmore, directed by Wes Anderson, 1998

The Shining, directed by Stanley Kubrik, 1980

Slacker, directed by Richard Linklatter, 1991

The Social Network, directed by David Fincher, 2010

Synecdoche, New York, directed by Charlie Kaufman, 2008

Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense, directed by Johnathan Demme, 1984

This concert film about the Talking Heads uses a stage that is literally constructed during the performance itself. An interesting example of using “mise en scène” and constructed narrative that is influential in how I set up my own processes.

Trainspotting, directed by Danny Boyle, 1998

Underworld Live: Everything, Everything, directed by Tomato, 2000

Until The End of the World, directed by Wim Wenders, 2008

Upstream Color, directed by Shane Carruth, 2013

Waking Life, directed by Richard Linklatter, 2001

The Work of Director Michel Gondry, directed by Michel Gondry, 2003

The Work of Director Spike Jonze, directed by Spike Jonze, 2003

The World’s End, directed by Edgar Wright, 2013

Periodicals and Internet




99% Invisible at

Ze Frank at

Badass Digest at

Balla Dora Typo-Grafika at


but does it float at

Colossal at


Dezeen at

Eye blog at

Ficciones Typografika at

Forget the Film, Watch the Titles at

Lined & Unlined at

Moby Los Angeles Architecture Blog at

Early Ambient at

On the Grid Podcast at

Product by Process at

Quipsologies at

Rands in Repose at

Serious Eats at

Submarine Channel at

Sway Podcast at

The Designer’s Review of Books at

The New Graphic at

Toasty Podcast at

Unlikely Words at

What If? at

WTF with Marc Maron Podcast at at

People of Interest

© Mitch Goldstein /