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As we move from 2012 into 2013, it seems to be an appropriate time for reflection. What were the top design books and trends for the year? Let’s have a peek. Each year, logo design trends abound and 2012 was no different. provided some insights as to what designers were up to this past year. Report author and LogoLounge frontman, Bill Gardner, had this to say. “There’s plenty to be learned here, but you need to be looking for the right thing. After a decade of studying logos from around the world—32,000 alone for this report—

I can say with absolute confidence that the true benefit of studying logo design trends is that they invariably identify trajectories. Once you can see the path a trend starts to take, once you can see its arc and velocity, it’s very possible for you to know where to take it next. You get to steer. You can find your own forward direction.”

The LogoLounge report is an enlightening read for every graphic designer working in logo design.

Every graphic designer I know is a hardcore bookaholic. New titles and “must-reads” abound for every topic within the world of graphic design. Here are few titles, released over the past year, that are sure to please.

In Search of the Miraculous: Or, One Thing Leads to Another by Milton Glaser. Glaser is easily one of the most celebrated graphic designers in the world today. His iconic work has not only communicated his clients’ messages, but also raised the standard for graphic design as a profession and industry. In Search of the Miraculous he explores how one concept leads to another and how the journey from the past can help to create future concepts, ideas and solutions.

Fellow advisory board member, Debbie Millman, penned two titles released in 2012. Debbie is an amazing woman, full of energy, insights and general smarts. She is the president of Sterling Brands, the chair of the Masters Program in Branding at the School of Visual Arts, President Emeritus of the AIGA, and she hosts “Design Matters with Debbie Millman,” on, a weekly radio show about design. Debbie is also the author of five books. Suffice to say, she’s a very busy lady.

First up is the Brand Bible: The Complete Guide to Building, Designing, and Sustaining Brands, published in February 2012 by Rockport Press. The book is a collaboration between the students and faculty of School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City. Edited by Millman, the book investigates, first, how brands and branding became such an integral and ubiquitous aspect of advertising and, second, how brands are crafted. Numerous major brands are represented and also included are interviews with brand consultants and managers.

Next is Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits. Okay … technically it was published in October, 2011 by Allworth Press. But, I wanted to include it because it was published near the end of 2011, Allworth is also my publisher, I like Debbie and, heck, it’s my article. So there.

Brand Thinking contains twenty interviews with leading designers and branding thinkers.

From our friends at, “We are now living in a world with over one hundred brands of bottled water. The United States alone is home to over 45,000 shopping malls. And there are more than 19 million customized beverage choices a barista can whip up at your local Starbucks. Why do we telegraph our affiliations or our beliefs with symbols, signs, and codes?

The interviews contain spirited views on how and why humans have branded the world around us, and the ideas, inventions, and insight inherent in the search.”

Suffice to say, this is required reading for any designer working in branding creation, implementation and management.

Prolific design writer, Steve Heller and author/designer, Veronique Vienne have teamed up once again to bring us, 100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design, published in April, 2012 by Laurence King Publishers. The book’s 100 entries investigate and details a host of design ideas ranging from the technical such as overprinting, rub-on designs and split fountain; to stylistic techniques such as swashes on caps, loud typography, and white space; to dealing with and designing objects such as dust jackets, design handbooks, etc.; and various methods such as paper cut-outs, pixilation and the like. The concepts, ideas and techniques span the ages from past to present giving the reader a robust insight into the various tools available to solve the design problem at-hand.

There are numerous other books from 2012 that deserve a thoughtful read, however, including them all would have my editor seeing red from a post that rivals War and Peace in length. So, let’s move on to other topics from 2012. The overall state of the industry comes to mind.

The fun folks over at conducted a survey to aggregate the opinion of dozens of the best and most-talented graphic designers in the industry. This year the survey included more than 40 industry experts that have 5+ years of experience. The results were quite revealing. Here are some highlights:

• On a scale of 1-10, internships came in as the top answer, with 8.5, when asked about the best method to learn the field. That was followed by online tutorials, with a 7.5.

• Key skills for designers were typography at 64%, color theory at 51% and, interestingly, page layout at just 42%.

• 29% of graphic designers were self-employed in 2012.

• In the U.S., California, New York, Texas, Florida and Illinois were the top five states for graphic designers.

• When it came to the top tools, there was little surprise. Adobe’s Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign were the top applications for 2012, with 9.4, 9.1 and 8.5 respectively, out of a possible 10.

• In 2011, the average designer earned $23.41 US per hour, or roughly $48,000 US per year. The top 10% earned $37.20 US per hour or approximately $77,000 US per year.

• When it comes to marketing and promotion, a personal website and networking were the leaders with 71% and 67%, respectively. Freelance portals came in at a paltry 7%.

Finally, the industry lost a few noted talents over the course of 2012. Among them are:

• Designer, author, and filmmaker Hillman Curtis, who passed away in April, 2012 at only 51. Curtis was a true innovator and known for numerous award-winning short films and the feature-length film Ride, Rise, Road about David Byrne and Brian Eno. Curtis is perhaps best known for his popular Artist Series, which was ongoing from 2005 and featured designers including Milton Glaser, Paula Scher, and David Carson.

His latest project, The Happy Film, is a feature-length film loosely based on designer Stefan Sagmeister’s book Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far. It was in production at the time of his death.

William Moggridge, designer and laptop pioneer died at 69 in September. Moggridge was not only the designer of the first laptop; he is also widely viewed as a father of the field of interaction design, a discipline that focuses on improving the human experience of digital products.

He co-founded IDEO, the influential product design firm and, most recently, served as director of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York.

Ewan Robertso, Scottish music producer and graphic designer, who operated under the name Offshore, died at only 27. As Offshore, Robertson released music on Big Dada, including two EPs and this year’s mini-album Bake Haus. Robertson was also heavily involved in the visual art component of the label, establishing his own design studio called Oscar & Ewan in partnership with Oscar Bauer. He designed the covers for Wiley’s Playtime Is Over, Roots Manuva’s Slime & Reason, and Bonobo’s Black Sands.

And thus we bring yet another year to an end and look forward to 2013. It’s our wish, here at, that the New Year greets you with open arms, filled with success, a new or renewed passion for design and the people it motivates and the delight and joy of creativity.