Sunday 19 April 2015

My Typography Books

Often in my Instagram photos you'll see the corner of a book peaking above my latest drawing, and so I get asked a lot what typography/graphics books I own by aspiring creatives. These are three of my four, the fourth I wouldn't recommend as I only use it for two fonts and it was a waste of £10+. I've taken photos of a couple of my favourite pages from each book. In hindsight this is probably giving you quite a biased view, but I'm assuming that people who read this post are into the style I am, so... keep on reading if that's you!

Creative Lettering - Jenny Doh

Creative Lettering was my first typography book. With its hand rendered theme and many of the artist feature pages having a materials list and "How To" step-by-steps, it really got me started. There are a number of useable alphabets throughout which you can practice. My favourite of which is photographed above, top right, which I referred to constantly while learning how to illustrate "fake calligraphy". After a while I was confident enough to start doing it freehand and shape my own!

As I said above, the book is comprised of artist features and along with their own alphabets, there are pictures of how to apply them into a full design, which is really useful. The way the book is laid out helps you create along with it which should help anyone who wants to experiment/learn. So after you've spent time writing out loads of letters try to make your favourite quote into a typography piece like they do! 

I'd say this would be the best book out of the three to get if you're a beginner because all the work is originally hand rendered/crafted so you don't need any fancy digital software or years of experience to have a go! But unlike the others, the majority of work has a really feminine style so give it a miss if that's not your thing.

Even if you're not thinking of becoming a designer, this book would help you create gorgeous motivational posters for your walls/desk area!

Drawing Type - Alex Fowkes 

This is a book in two sections: Section 1 "Inspiration & Interviews" and Section 2 "Drawing Type". Its aim is to expose you to a range of designers under the categories Hand Rendered, Vintage Twist, Playful Type and Contemporary Type, and then educates you on how to achieve each in Section 2.

I feel this book would be really useful for artist research at school, as each double page spread features an artist and a selection of their work, along with a bio and brief explanation into how they came to be a designer. Within each of the four categories you're bound to find relevant styles to your latest project.

At the back there are a number of specimen sheets of fonts for you to copy out and learn from. Admittedly I've only glanced at these for references when hand lettering, for example checking to see where a serif should go on particular letters or how script type loops and joins.

Most of the work isn't commonly achievable unless you're A* at A2 level, doing a degree or post graduate but it's so important to find work to aspire to.

Typography Sketch Books - Steven Heller & Lita Talarico

With this book I wasn't immediately convinced. It's far more like the fine art books I flick through in libraries and can't stand. Again featuring multiple artists, it goes in alphabetical order so there is no logical progression of the styles of work, instead hitting you with new and unexpected work on every page. At first that made me feel ill, being a perfectionist and all, but now I kind of like it. When you're feeling uninspired it's easy to gravitate back to your favourite styles of work, when really you need something different to spark your imagination. 

This is a thick book full of pages if sketch books. Unlike the other two you get to see initial ideas and progression, rather than a final piece, which makes it all seem more achievable. There is bound to be something for everyone in here, so I'd recommend looking it up in a library if you're not ready to purchase, I've seen it around a lot!


Good places to find graphics/typography books are art book shops, libraries, Waterstones and Amazon.

I hope that was useful to some of you! If you have any favourite typography books that I haven't mentioned above, please do let me know!

Polly xo



  1. This is such a lovely post <3 I'm definitely going to get Creative Lettering now, it looks so good! Thank you for the recommendation xx

    1. Thank you :) That's alright, I hope you get lots of use out of it!


  2. This was so helpful polly! I've been following your Instagram for so long and always wonder how you learn how to write like you do! I've just finished art GCSE and am looking forward to doing art I actually want to do now😂 defo will try calligraphy! Keep up everything ya doing girl! X

    1. eee happy you think so! Brush type/calligraphy is SO fun and usable, definitely worth practicing :)


  3. I've been following your instagram for a while and actually own all of these books! I'm not a stalker ok ;) xx

    1. Oh my gosh ahah, just these three or do you own any other gems?


  4. The first one looks really good, definitely be checking my local waterstones for it! :) xx


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