What's on our bookshelf: Inspiration for Creatives

September 02, 2020
By iQ Staff
A neatly organized bookshelf with books arranged by color.

National Read a Book Day, observed annually on September 6th, invites everyone to grab a book and spend the day reading. Books are an often-forgotten tool for entertainment and inspiration, especially among creatives who may turn more frequently to other art sources. This year, as we spend more time indoors with limited resources, our creative team turned to their bookshelves to spark some creativity. Scott Kaneshiro, creative director; Jordan Higa, senior designer; and Analyn Delos Santos, UX/UI designer, assembled a list of their favorite books that continue to guide and inspire their work in graphic design, web design and creative thinking.

Scott’s Picks:

“Zag” by Marty Neumeier

Very insightful book that explains branding and the importance of differentiation. It’s easy to understand and provides actionable steps for marketers.

Why it inspires me:
“Zag” inspires me to think differently and shows me how to act upon these thoughts.

Photo credit: Marty Neumeier website and Column Five Media


“Symbol” by Angus Hyland and Steven Bateman

Compact book full of logos and symbols, spanning the iconic to the unknown.

Why it inspires me:
Great source of inspiration and a springboard for logo and graphic work.

Photo credit: Angus Hyland on Behance and Sidecar


Jordan’s Picks:

"The Secret Lives of Color" by Kassia St. Clair

From acid yellow to obsidian, The Secret Lives of Color dives into the unique history and cultural significance of 75 intriguing colors, and explores topics ranging from fashion, politics, and science.

Why it inspires me:
The book challenges me to think critically about how we use color and the power we have as designers to give it new meaning.


"The Selby is in Your Place" by Todd Selby

A playful, mixed media documentation of interesting people's homes told through vibrant photography, illustrated portraits and handwritten interviews.

Why it inspires me:
While visually pleasing, I've always found Todd Selby's highly personal and analog approach to storytelling refreshing. It's a reminder that the computer can never replace the power of the human touch.

Photo credit: The TOM Agency


Analyn’s Picks:

“Better Web Typography for a Better Web” by Matej Latin

This book is a must-read for any web designer/developer as it explains literally every aspect of typography for the web-—from how to choose and combine web typefaces to optimizing readability on mobile and desktop. It also provides additional content like cheat sheets and live examples on the web so you can see the theory in practice.

Why it inspires me:
It’s helped me be more meticulous when it comes to choosing and styling type on the web. Whenever I visit a site—whether it's on desktop or mobile—I subconsciously evaluate how easy it is to read the text on the page and think about any ways it can be improved.

Photo credit: Better Web Typography website


“Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug

The books in this series (the original version from 2000 was updated in 2014) explain the principles of website usability. They’re super quotable, easy to read, and provide comprehensive examples.

Why it inspires me:
It’s made me think from the perspective of the user and to remember that I'm not just designing a pretty decorative piece for other designers, but something that's usable, functional, and intuitive for a wide range of normal, everyday people.

Photo credit: Tubik Studio on Medium