Design

Books to Inspire Your Personal Projects

We review a set of readings featuring Ji Lee, creative director of Facebook and Instagram, that will inspire you to turn your creative ideas into personal projects

Ji Lee (@jilee) is an artist who works in many media (Photoshop, installation, street art, product design, illustration, video, photography, among others). Ji is passionate about working on personal projects, and they have hugely benefited his personal life and professional career.

Among these are the Bubble Project, Word as Image, and Drawings for My Grandchildren.

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Ji Lee

Take a look below at a list of books recommended by and featuring Ji Lee’s creative work to inspire you to start your own personal projects:


Please Make This Look Nice: The Graphic Design Process, by Peter Ahlberg

For type and graphic design professionals, students, and design fans alike, this book provides both inspiration and instruction. The book illustrates the creative processes, behind-the-scenes, and inspiration sources of more than fifty graphic designers, typographers, and studios from around the world. It includes celebrated designers (Maira Kalman, Milton Glaser, Michael Bierut, and more) as well as emerging design stars.

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Ahlberg, P., (2016), 'Please Make This Look Nice: The Graphic Design Process', Rizzoli International


Trespass, A History of Uncommissioned Urban Art, by Marc and Sarah Schiller

With a preface by Banksy and made in collaboration with the artists featured—150 street practitioners spanning four generations—, this book traces the rise of graffiti and urban art, as a social phenomenon and expression of youth culture. Each chapter is introduced by a short thought-provoking preface illustrating the social and political contexts, and shows the movement’s technical developments and works by Jean Tinguely, Keith Haring, Billboard Liberation Front, Guerrilla Girls, and Banksy among others.

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Schiller, M. and S., (2015), 'Trespass, A History of Uncommissioned Urban Art', Taschen


Making Ideas Happen, by Scott Belsky

If you want your ideas to be worth something, they need to be executed. In this book, Scott Belsky gives an account of how teams at Disney, IDEO, and Google—and individuals like John Maeda, Seth Godin, and Chris Anderson— transformed their vision into reality.

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Belsky, S., (2012), 'Making Ideas Happen', Penguin


The Art of Rebellion III, by Christian Hundertmark

Christian Hundertmark, also known as artist C100, has been on the street art scene forever. He curated the selection of the latest highly engaging street artwork for this publication.

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Hundertmark, C., (2002), 'The Art of Rebellion III', Ginko Press


Becoming a Graphic Designer, by Steven Heller and Teresa Fernandes

A fully updated revision of the popular user-friendly guide with excellent illustrations and the latest material on interactive design, information design, motion, and more, this book is an invaluable resource for designers to develop or embark on a graphic design career. Steven Heller and Teresa Fernandes completed hundreds of interviews with top practitioners and give a comprehensive review of the types of jobs available to today's graphic and new media designers. They provide helpful insights into the market and the industries employing this craft. Architecture, web, television, film, advertising, corporate, editorial, and other key design disciplines are all covered.

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Heller, S., Fernandes, T., (2010), 'Becoming a Graphic Designer', Wiley Publishers


Precursor: The Creative Watchlist, by Robert Klanten, Adeline Mollard, and Jan Middendorp

This book documents striking examples of work by many young designers from all over the world and their multidisciplinary approach to creativity. These designers draw on their experiences in graphic design, advertising, street art, video direction, typography, illustration, product design, and music production to express their vision and innovative, creative ideas.

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Klanten, R., Mollard, A., Middendorp, J., (2010), 'Precursor: The Creative Watchlist', Gestalten


Breakthrough! Overcome Creative Block & Spark Your Imagination, by Alex Cornell

In this book, several artists reveal their remedy against creative block. Ji Lee’s solution when he gets in a rut is to ‘hang out with friends who have other interests. A lot of the things I draw about is stuff my friends talk about: Native Americanism, horror films, talking to the undead, or the magical healing powers of crystals. I end up drawing that stuff ‘cause my friends talk about it so much.’

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Cornell, A., (2012), 'Breakthrough! Overcome Creative Block & Spark Your Imagination', Princeton Architectural Press


Graphic: Inside The Sketchbooks of World’s Great Graphic Designers, by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico

Over 100 designers give us a glimpse into their creative process and open the pages of their sketchbooks. Steven Heller and Lita Talarico comment on the artists’ creative development, design philosophies, sketchbook techniques, and visual influences. Among the artists featured is Milton Glaser, designer of the I Love New York logo.

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Heller, S., Talarico, L., (2010), 'Graphic: Inside The Sketchbooks of World’s Great Graphic Designers', Thames & Hudson


Urban Interventions: Personal Projects in Public Spaces, by Robert Klanten, Sven Ehmann, and Matthias Hubner

All the elements of the modern city can be a source of art projects: walls, traffic signs, trees, ads, can become playful, thought-provoking installations, mixed with architecture, performance, fine art, and activism. This book guides us in finding art in our everyday surroundings and mundane situations.

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Klanten, R., Ehmann, S., Hubner, M., (2010), 'Urban Interventions: Personal Projects in Public Spaces', Gestalten


Graphic Design: Now in Production, by Andrew Blauvelt and Ellen Lupton

Over the last decade, graphic design has become a broad discipline, with great creative software creating new opportunities for design, user-generated content, publishing, and systems of distribution. This catalog includes posters, infographics, fonts, books, magazines, film titles, logos, and more, from 2000 to the present day, created by designers who are more and more involved in the production of text, publications, and enterprises. Co-organized by Walker Art Center and Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, it also covers interviews, excerpts, and manifestos as well as projects and technical details.

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Blauvelt, A., Lupton, E., (2011), 'Graphic Design: Now in Production', Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum


The 3D Type Book, by Fl@33

This book, introduced by Andrew Byrom, includes over 1,300 images of more than 300 projects by more than 160 designers and studios, both emerging and established. It also showcases a large number of three-dimensional letterforms, both from the past and more recent.

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Fl@33, (2011), 'The 3D Type Book', Laurence King Publishing

Check out Ji Lee’s popular Domestika course Transforming Your Creative Ideas Into Personal Projects, to help you find inspiration in your surroundings and set yourself personal projects that can propel your creative career.

You may be interested in:

- Interview with Ji Lee: Creative Director at Facebook and Instagram
- Four Initiatives to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing
- 15 Free Apps and resources to Spur Your Creativity
- 5 Courses to Help You Make the Most of Instagram

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