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Editorial Reviews

President of the design division of Sterling Brands and the American Institute of Graphic Arts, contributing editor at Print Magazine, and noted writer, Debbie Millman wrangles 19 of the best designing minds into one probing and insightful book. How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer is drawn from interviews with luminaries and is based around the essential questions, "How do you think? How do you connect to others? What are your special skills?" Pleasingly performed by Nicole Vilencia, Millman’s audiobook includes interviews with sages such as Stefan Sagmeister, Milton Glaser, and Paula Scher.

Publisher's Summary

Revealing, intimate interviews with 19 giants of graphic design. Probing questions from a top interviewer and branding executive. Unique, compelling insights and inspirations.

Take a peek inside the heads of some of the world's greatest living graphic designers. How do they think, how do they connect to others, what special skills do they have? In honest and revealing interviews, 19 designers, including Stefan Sagmeister, Michael Beirut, David Carson, and Milton Glaser, share their approaches, processes, opinions, and thoughts about their work with noted brand designer Debbie Millman. The internet radio talk host of Design Matters, Millman persuades the greatest graphic designers of our time to speak frankly and openly about their work. How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer offers a rare opportunity to observe and understand the giants of the industry.

Designers interviewed include:

  • Milton Glaser
  • Stefan Sagmeister
  • David Carson
  • Paula Scher
  • Abbott Miler
  • Lucille Tenazas
  • Paul Sahre
  • Emily Oberman and Bonnie Siegler
  • Chip Kidd
  • James Victore
  • Carin Goldberg
  • Michael Bierut
  • Seymour Chwast
  • Jessica Helfand and William Drenttel
  • Steff Geissbuhler
  • John Maeda
©2007 Debbie Millman (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"A delightful opportunity to eavesdrop on some of the most curious and creative minds of our time." (Malcolm Gladwell, author, The Tipping Point and Blink)
"A journey to discover the motivations, ambitions and frustrations of successful designers working hard in a volatile profession." ( Communication Arts)
"Anyone who struggles daily to create great work will be inspired and encouraged by these intimate glimpses into remarkable minds." (Joyce Rutter Kaye, Editor-in-Chief, Print magazine)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not what I expected but

This wasn't quite what I expected based on the title but I did find it enjoyable, listening to the interviews of the various designers how they got their starts and their individual perspectives. I rated this 3 stars because I was expecting something after those to kind of summarize for the reader/listener to be able to apply the learnings from these interviews to their own personal approach.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Pretentious

Good nuggets but some of the designers are so pretentious. The reader accentuates this by trying to make the interviewees sound smarter than they are.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Natalie
  • Cerritos, CA United States
  • 08-01-14

Because it is an interview, it is hard to follow!

If you could sum up How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer in three words, what would they be?

It is written in an interview style, so the going back and forth is very difficult to follow if there is not a change in voice. There should have been one voice of the female interviewer and a different voice for a female interviewee voice and/or a male interviewee voice.

That aside, it was very insightful and interesting.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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sooooo pretentious

I couldn't even finish it.

only one of the people interviewed didn't sound like they just wanted to make love to themselves if given the chance

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Disappointed in the audio performance.

This book is a classic for graphic designers and a great one to own in physical form. The audio version of this was disappointing. Sometimes it was difficult to differentiate between Millman's dialogue and the interviewees. It could have used more contrast between the two participants. I don't understand the decision to use only one narrator, who has no real differentiating tones between everyone. All the different interviewees answers start to blend together. I also had to play this entire thing on 1.25 speed because she read. So. Slowly.

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Good advice but disappointing

Overall this book had some great advice to share with listeners. However, the narrative was highly redundant thus leading to a cumbersome dialog. This copy would have done better if the text was shorter for the interview narrative carried throughout the text.

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Inside the Mind of Genius

What did you love best about How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer?

As someone who is currently taking graphic design in school, there are many aspects of the interviews that I can relate with. With some of the stories, I see that I am going in the right direction. I also see there is much I have left to learn. The interviews are absolutely fascinating.

What did you like best about this story?

To hear graphic designers in their own words is very engaging.

Which scene was your favorite?

I don't know if there is a favorite scene - these are interviews. I did like the interview with Oberman and Siegler a lot.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I didn't really laugh or cry although there are moments of silent chuckles that we always have in real life. I was fascinated though with every word.

Any additional comments?

Be forewarned: This is not a how to book on what to do in order to think like those who have been successful in the graphic design world. This is a book of interviews that reveals how they think.
The only think that would make this audiobook better would be a pdf with pictures of sample work from each artist. I have seen another book do this with an audiobook and it would be good. Of course, this is my first foray into the history of graphic design so these names would probably be more familiar with those in the field. I plan on listening to this book again in front of a computer so I can look at the artist's work while listening and get an appreciation of what they have done and maybe a little insight into the why.

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    3 out of 5 stars

Good advice from the usual suspects.

Graphic design discussion and criticism seems to flow from the same old crowd. While the advice isn't bad, it's redundant.

My problem with most graphic design "greats" are their speaking in illusions. They high high brow but say little.

While not a bad read, it's not a great one.

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  • G
  • 08-05-14

Decent interviews on design, horrible reading

Where does How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Somewhere in the middle- these are fairly superficial interviews

How could the performance have been better?

The reader constantly mispronounces words- she butchers genre, milieu and segue. She mispronounces almost all pronouns- James Victore comes in for a beating.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Brief interviews with Designers

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kate
  • SEATTLE, Washington, United States
  • 12-06-13

facinating glimpse into great minds

Any additional comments?

The title feels misleading (she clears that up in the first chapter) but is more a glimpse into the minds of 20 well-known names in the world of design... Milton Glaser, Peter Saville, Stefan Sagmeister, Michael Bierut, Neville Brody to name a few.

Inspiring and interesting.

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  • M. Boyle
  • 07-31-18

Ignore the title and listen to the most important book on Graphic Design ever written!

Do yourself a favor and ignore the title! As is said in the introduction, it’s not a ‘how to manual’ or some kind ‘process’, it’s actually some great interviews with graphic designers like Stefan Sagmeister, Peter Saville & Paula Scher (to name but three), who give beautifully honest interviews that will make you realize that even the best are insecure / sometimes deliver work they’re unhappy with; which was a huge relief to read!

It also has to be said that Nicole Vilencia’s performance brings life to the book like none I’ve heard before it. The way she channels the designers is masterful & establishes the baseline I will hold all other listens to in the future!

For those who’ve ever had self doubt about themselves or their designs, this is the book you need to put those worries aside and focus on doing what you love!

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  • Ourmilkman
  • 01-09-17

Motivational Insight

Now on my third, consecutive study of this insightful gaze into the minds of the 21st Century's commercial, artisan masters.