Here is a list of resources, books, tools, and guides that I have found indispensable to my career over the years. It’s by no means exhaustive, and I’ll be adding to it in the future. Disclosure: these products are Amazon Affiliate links.
Monoprice Interactive Pen Display Monitor
I have been a Wacom user for years, but now that some lower cost competitors are entering the market, I wanted to try a graphics monitor that is substantially cheaper than a Cintiq. I’ve been incredibly happy with the Monoprice so far. It feels as close to paper as a digital input device is going to get for me. There are some drawbacks, but you can’t beat the price.
Pentel Pocket Brush Pen
I don’t know where I’d be without this gem. The Pentel Pocket Brush has saved me on more deadlines than I care to admit. Normally I use a brush and ink, but you would be surprised at how much time you save using one of these. It’s portable, dries fast, and even does a nice dry brush effect at the right angles. Highly recommend it.
Ames Lettering Guide
This is a strange tool in a digital world, but I still use mine quite a bit. Fonts are great, but there is nothing like hand lettered comics. It shows the reader that you didn’t just think the text of your book was an afterthought, and it adds so much warmth to your work.
Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice
This is a beautiful little book by one of my favorite cartoonists, Ivan Brunetti. I come back to it frequently, especially when I’m in a rut. I’ll work through some of the exercises to help get me back on track. It’s also a favorite of mine to pull from when I need some exercises for a class or for students I work with.
Adventures in Cartooning
If you are teaching comics, especially to younger creators, this book is fantastic. Obviously I have a great deal of respect for James Sturm. I’ve taught some youth comic workshops before, and kids love this book. Often times they’ve read it before. The book goes over the fundamentals clearly and in a fun, easy way.
The Cartoonist’s Workbook
This book was recommended to me by Hilary Price after a lecture at the Center for Cartoon Studies. I was surprised at how much I returned to it, especially while I was doing an almost daily webcomic. Fantastic resource, especially for gag comics and comic strips.
I love this thing. Do you want to go paperless? This is the scanner you need. It will convert everything into OCR PDFs for you. I run receipts, paperwork, contracts, and bills through the SnapScan without much effort. Want to learn how to go paperless? Check out Take Control of Your Paperless Office [eBook].
This book started as a website, which was a list of curated books that were an equivalent resource to an MBA education. Josh Kaufman accumulated all the relevant knowledge from those books into this handy guide. Don’t read the whole thing straight through. It is best read a chapter at a time when you want to learn more about an aspect of business or just to refresh your processes.
This is a great guide to yourself, basically. It will help you learn about what skills and abilities you are strong in while giving you permission to let go of your weak spots. Ideal for building a team and for finding help where you need it.
When I was first getting into management, this book was a big help. It’s a light read, but I found it invaluable. The worst thing about getting into management is that you get good enough at your job, they promote you into a leadership role. However, no one really teaches you how to be a leader. This is a well-thoughtout introduction to leadership.
David Oglivy was a giant in the industry, and I only just recently read this after I became a Creative Director. I never intentionally worked my way into marketing and advertising, but I found myself nodding my head quite a bit while digesting his words. It was interesting how much was still relevant after all these years.
In the golden oldie days of the web, I was a fan of 37 Signals work and was one of the first Basecamp subscribers. I found this book invaluable when I was working at a traditional agency that was begrudgingly moving towards integrating digital services.
I really did not want to like Adobe Creative Cloud, but I have to say, Adobe has made a very compelling case for convenience. I never worry about being up to date. I never worry about whether a file is compatible or not anymore. I never worry about what version package I might need in the future. I can sync type, computers, and files, quickly and easily.
This is a strange and lovely tome. It feels biblical, poetic, and conversational all at once. Robert Bringhurst loves typography. If you don’t love it after reading this, I can’t help you. This was the book made me start considering text on another level entirely.
This book has shaped me as a designer in innumerable ways. There are other books on grid systems. This is the one you need though. Whenever I question whether or not I want to be a designer anymore, I sometimes just pull this out and pour through it and fall in love all over again. I just wished I could read German.
Steven Heller writes great books about design, and I especially enjoy his writing on comics. This is a treasure trove of entrepreneurial resources and stories specifically tailored to graphic designers. I think we all get to a point after honing our skills where we say “now what?” This book may help you answer that.
Mike Monteiro is a smart guy. He wants you to be successful. It doesn’t matter if you are a freelancer, in-house, running a department or starting your own firm; this book is written to help you be better at your job. Cartoonists can learn from this book as well. All the books in the A Book Apart series are worth their price tag and then some, but I felt this was a stand-out resource in their run.
Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines
If you are a designer, animator, cartoonist, or an illustrator, you should own this book. I want to keep my clients happy, but sometimes I don’t know how to price out what they are looking for, or how a contract for a service should look. Especially if you are starting out in your career, get someone to get this for you for a graduation present. It’s helped me out for well over a decade.