RGD Members share favourite books
Portfolio Review

We asked five RGDs to share the design books that have meant the most to their creative careers. Check out their list of resources for inspiration, strategy, insight, information and more.


Recommended by Stussy Tschudin RGDForge Media + Design, Toronto:


I find this book is a great inspiration piece for creative minds across the board. Throughout the book, various famous (and not so famous) designers, typographers, musicians and other creatives share how they deal with "Creative Block" and how they overcome it.


The book is comprised of lots of short (bite-size) stories, and I use it as a fun and engaging reference tool to go to, whenever I feel stuck and want to get the creative juices flowing. The design of the book is simple yet beautiful and features many little infographics to support the stories. This is not the kind of book you would read in one go, but rather a trusted little friend you can visit from time to time.


Recommended by Jeff Malcolm RGD, AdvisorBranding, Toronto: 


Bernadette's message is that globally we spend billions on advertising and design every year, interrupting more people, more often, with messages they don’t care about and don’t pay attention to. Industry has come to believe that the way to succeed is to have an advantage over your competition - by being different, or better, more visible and louder.


Her message is important because it's necessary to create ideas and experiences that give people reasons to care and to belong, not just reasons to choose one pretty picture over another.


“Creating difference is about seeing things in a whole new light. It’s about re-imaging what the problem or the need might be, and then deciding that you will do whatever it takes to be the one to solve this problem for people." 


Recommended by Nicole Vallée RGD, Domino Creative, Ottawa: 


Debbie Millman interviews some of the world’s greatest graphic designers. She explores how they think, how they connect to others, and what special skills they employ in their work. In honest and revealing interviews, 19 designers, including Stefan Sagmeister, Michael Bierut, David Carson and Milton Glaser, share their approaches, processes, opinions and thoughts about their work.


Many designers, including yours truly, never think we can achieve the same levels of success as a Milton Glaser or a Michael Bierut, but it's interesting to find common ground with these great designers. This book was very insightful and inspiring and gave me a sense of community. (Warning: there are no pictures in this book!)


A few things I took away from the book:

  • We're always working, learning from what we see — on the street, in the sky, in the trash bin.
  • Unlike fine art, design is collaborative, audience-related and is about re-purposing rather than inventing something brand new.
  • Excuses about a client or time constraints don't matter once the work is out there.
  • Working fast isn't necessarily a good thing because you can get used to bad habits and get too acclimated to a certain type of working.


Recommended by Sean Grant RGD, Professor at Cambrian College, Sudbury: 


This book contains a simple idea that designers often overlook: websites were never meant to be restricted to one screen size. Coming from a print background, I expected everything to fit neatly into a rectangle. Ethan points out why this is not a solid approach to website design, and then gives you some simple techniques to start implementing fluidity into your design.  


Recommended by Bill Ford RGD, Philip Sung Design Associates, Toronto:

This book lays out the history of the London transit system and how design played a big part in the culture of the transport business and the way it was perceived by its customers. Feeding my obsession with all things London, this book was a natural fit for me as it deals with both transport history and design, two areas that have always piqued my interest.

Designed For London focuses primarily on Frank Pick, the first Chief Executive of London Transport. It chronicles his influence and design philosophy, both of which had a major impact on the corporate identity of London Transport through its vehicles, posters/publicity and architecture/engineering. Pick, although not trained as a designer, was at the forefront of recognizing the benefit of design on a corporation and its public perception. 


“London Transport and its immediate predecessor The Underground Group were pioneers in the conscious development of a strong and progressive corporate identity long before the term was first coined.”

RGDs interested in sharing resources in a future news item can email