Book reviews

The art, design and media books reviewed on this page have been carefully selected as being suitable for use as either textbooks or teaching resources. 

Read more

Each of them is well worth taking a look at for possible inclusion in the art, design and media section of your learning resources centre or in your own teaching support materials library. Review commentaries have been provided by the publishers.

Susan Young
Art, Design and Media Subject Advisor

Fashion Design Course: Accessories by Jane Schaffer and Sue Saunders

Fashion Design Course: Accessories

Jane Schaffer and Sue Saunders  

258 pages with glossary and index
Fully illustrated and photographed
ISBN 978 0500 290347

This information-packed book introduces design students to an important segment of the fashion industry, focusing on the growing market sector that encompasses accessories and footwear.

The authors present a detailed overview of their subject, examining both the creative and technical aspects of accessory design, presentation, and marketing. They discuss basic principles and techniques of research, design, and development, translate the industry's specialist terminology into terms students and outsiders can understand, and describe tools of the trade.

Following their general overview and introduction to fashion design, the authors devote a separate chapter to each of the specific accessories: handbags, footwear, hats, belts, gloves, and small leather items. A concluding chapter describes typical courses available to students, lists trade fairs, and recommends career paths.


The Complete Digital Animation Course
The Principles, Practice and Techniques of Successful Digital Animation

Andy Wyatt

144 pages with glossary, resources and index
Illustrated in colour throughout
ISBN 978 0500 288627

The Complete Animation Course

The Complete Animation Course
The Principles, Practice and Techniques of Successful Animation

Chris Patmore

160 pages with glossary, links and index
Illustrated in colour and black and white throughout
ISBN 978 0500 284377

These two course books provide step-by-step instruction in a wide range of animation techniques, from flip-books to animation for websites, films or computer games. With case studies and tutorials they take students through all the processes, from developing a story and character to post-production and beyond. Interviews with industry professionals, hints, tips and plentiful illustrations ensure students get a feel for the reality of life in the animation industry.

Animation Sketchbooks by Laura Heit

Animation Sketchbooks

Laura Heit

320 pages with 450 illustrations, 307 in colour
ISBN 978 0500 516751

Laura Heit, a practising animator and puppeteer, presents highlights from the private notebooks and sketchbooks of over 50 leading animators from around the world. As well as showcasing a diverse range of creative work, the book also shows finished frames that grew out of the initial, sketched ideas.

Architecture The Whole Story by Denna Jones

The Whole Story

Denna Jones

576 pages, with glossary and index
Over 1,000 colour illustrations
PLC binding
ISBN 978 0500 291481

A new volume in the popular series exploring subjects from around the world and across history. Filled with excellent colour illustrations, timelines, a glossary and short thematic essays, this chronological overview of architecture covers everything from the ancient world to the latest super-tall towers, digital designs and green eco-buildings.

The Self-Portrait A Cultural History by James Hall

The Self-Portrait
A Cultural History

James Hall

288 pages with notes and index
120 illustrations, 109 in colour
ISBN 978 0500 239100

Nowadays, self-portraits are everywhere. In this survey, James Hall looks back at their history, finding their origins in the illuminated books and manuscripts of the Middle Ages, and following their story through the centuries to the present. From medieval artists to Magritte; from Durer to Tracey Emin, this is the fascinating story of self-portraits across the centuries. 

How to write about Contemporary Art by Gilda Williams

How to write about Contemporary Art

Gilda Williams

264 pages, with notes, bibliography and index
34 illustrations and 64 source texts
ISBN 978 0500 291573

This is a really practical guide to writing clearly and effectively about art. It’s also a readable and entertaining book that shows you how to order your material, assess your audience and write appropriately for the task in hand. With plenty of practical advice and over 60 source texts by respected authors, this is a great resource for students and tutors wanting to write about any period of art and design.  

Hegarty on Creativity by John Hegarty

Hegarty on Creativity
There Are No Rules

John Hegarty

128 pages, with over 50 illustrations
PLC binding
ISBN 978 0500 517246

John Hegarty is the advertising man responsible for the famous Levi’s advert set in a launderette, and for giving Audi cars their ‘vorsprung durch technik’ brand tag. After his stellar career in the advertising world he has distilled his ideas about creativity in this thought provoking little volume. It’s entertaining and pithy – filled with questions to ask ourselves as well as good advice about how to make the most of creative possibilities.  

Why Your Five Year Old Could Not Have Done That by Susie Hodge

Why Your Five Year Old Could Not Have Done That
Modern Art Explained

Susie Hodge

224 pages
100 colour illustrations
ISBN 978 0500 290477

Why Your 5 Year Old Could Not Have Done That is Susie Hodge's passionate and persuasive argument against the most common disparaging remark levelled at modern art. In this enjoyable and thought-provoking book, she examines 100 works of modern art that have attracted critical and public hostility, from Cy Twombly's scribbled Olympia (1957) and Jean-Michel Basquiat's crude but spontaneous LNAPRK (1982), to the apparently careless mess of Tracey Emin's My Bed (1998), and explains how, far from being negligible novelties, they are inspired and logical extensions of the ideas of their time.

She explains how such notorious works as Carl Andre's Equivalent VIII (1966) - the infamous bricks - occupy unique niches in the history of ideas, both showing influences of past artists and themselves influencing subsequent artists. With illustrations of works from Hans Arp to Adolf Wölfli, Susie Hodge places each work in its cultural context to present an unforgettable vision of modern art. This book will give you an understanding of the ways in which modern art differs from the realistic works of earlier centuries, transforming as well as informing your gallery visits for years to come. 

How to Survive Modern Art by Susie Hodge

How to Survive Modern Art

Susie Hodge

128 pages
125 colour illustrations
ISBN 978 1 85437 749 4

Modern art arouses many different responses: suspicion, controversy and misunderstanding are among the most frequent. But it doesn't need to be like that. To help out, here is a clear, accessible, fully illustrated introduction to what can otherwise seem a daunting subject. Covering everything from Impressionism to the Harlem Renaissance, from Cezanne to Postmodernism in clearly laid-out sections illustrated in full colour, this book answers the need for a thorough yet manageable guide to art in the modern world.

With the authority of the world's most popular gallery of modern art, combined with clear text and superb illustrations, this book presents everything you need for a basic grounding in the subject. With sections that cover the major movements and artists in the history of modern art as well as introductions to its major themes, together with suggested ways of looking at modern art and tips on where to see it - as well as a glossary of key terms - How to Survive Modern Art is the ideal book for anyone wanting to get to grips with this fascinating subject. 

The Workshop Guide to Ceramics by Duncan Hooson and Anthony Quinn

The Workshop Guide to Ceramics

Duncan Hooson and Anthony Quinn

ISBN 978 0500 516218

Following the success of the Workbench Guide to Jewelry Techniques, this title provides a very clear and well-illustrated guide to the techniques and processes of ceramic manufacture. It covers the whole spectrum of ceramics manufacture, from hand forming and throwing to the techniques of industrial production, and includes lots of useful information about presentation, promotion and professional practice.

Ceramic Glazes by Brian Taylor and Kate Doody

Ceramic Glazes
The Complete Handbook

Brian Taylor and Kate Doody

320 pages with glossary, bibliography and index
Includes Orton Cone Chart and directory of materials
230 colour illustrations
ISBN 978 0500 517406

As well as providing a thorough grounding in the technical aspects of ceramic glazes – what they are, how they work, how to make and test them – this book also profiles 100 leading ceramic artists, showing how they have used different glazes in their work. Organised by temperature range and sub-categorized by method of application, it offers a huge range of technical information and an introduction to new creative approaches.

The Fashion Resource Book: Research for Design by Robert Leach

The Fashion Resource Book: Research for Design

Robert Leach

208 pages with bibliography and index
440 illustrations, 333 in colour
ISBN 978 0500 290354

Developing a personal aesthetic is one of the key stages of becoming a fashion designer – and using visual research effectively is a vital skill that all designers need to acquire. This new book shows students how to begin.

Packed with colourful images from all walks of life, it shows how things as disparate as found objects, architectural drawings, museum collections and dance have all provided inspiration for catwalk classics.

Interviews with established designers, showing how important it is to maintain a constant stream of new visual stimuli, are complemented by examples from a myriad of sources, accompanied by sketches and mood-boards to show how image and idea can become fashion reality.

Fashion since 1900 by Valerie Mendes and Amy de la Haye

Fashion since 1900 (new edition)

Valerie Mendes and Amy de la Haye

312 pages with bibliography and index
300 illustrations, 77 in colour
ISBN 978 0500 204023

From Belle Epoque tea gowns to the world of Prada and Stella McCartney, this is a readable and well-illustrated survey of the fashion of the 20th and early 21st century. International in scope, it focuses on key movements and innovations in style for both men and women, and highlights the socio-economic, political and cultural contexts of such developments. A new final chapter comes right up to date, with a discussion of the new fashion centres of India and China and the challenges of producing fashion for the fast moving modern world.

Fashion Design Drawing Course by Jemi Armstrong and Wynn Armstrong

Fashion Design Drawing Course

Jemi Armstrong and Wynn Armstrong

ISBN 978 0500 289853

This is a revised and expanded edition of a very successful coursebook, providing step-by-step guidance for aspiring fashion designers. It has lots of information about digital techniques and presentation methods, as well as updated resources and many new illustrations.

Fashion: The Whole Story by Marnie Fogg

Fashion: The Whole Story

Marnie Fogg

576 pages with glossary and index
Over 1,000 colour illustrations
ISBN 978 0500 291108

From antiquity to today, this is an excellent chronological survey of the development of fashion around the world. It moves from particular periods or themes (Renaissance Dress, The Art of Fashion Illustration) to the detailed analysis of individual garments (a 17th century Mughal hunting coat, Yves Saint Laurent’s Mondrian dress from 1965), picking out focal points for each garment and profiling important designers. Really informative and great value.

The Fashion Resource Book: Men by Robert Leach

The Fashion Resource Book: Men

Robert Leach

208 pages with bibliography and index
393 illustrations, 277 in colour
ISBN 978 0500 291320

Undertaking visual research, and making the most of the material you find, is an important skill to develop as a designer. This book introduces students to research methods and sources, including looking at the art and fashion of the past, visiting museums, exploring the history of garment types and considering popular culture, trends, traditions and new developments. With the focus on menswear, Robert Leach profiles the history of such style icons as the trench coat, the parka and the duffle coat, showing how contemporary designers have reinvigorated such fashion staples for a new generation.

Why You Can Go Out Dressed Like That by Marnie Fogg

Why You Can Go Out Dressed Like That
Modern Fashion Explained

Marnie Fogg

224 pages with index
100 colour illustrations
PLC binding
ISBN 978 0500 291498

At some stage we have all been told that we 'can’t go out dressed like that’! In this handy little volume Marnie Fogg explores the work of 100 fashion pioneers, from Paul Poiret, a century ago, to figures such as Gareth Pugh and Craig Green today. With chapters headed ‘Fantasy’, ‘Displacement’, ‘Provocation’, Volume’ and ‘Distortion’, she shows how couture designers have sought to reflect far more than fashion in their artistic creations.

Why Fashion Matters by Frances Corner

Why Fashion Matters

Frances Corner

144 pages with bibliography and index
ISBN 978 0500 517376

Frances Corner became head of The London College of Fashion in 2005 and is a leading expert on the dizzying complexities of the global fashion industry. In this brilliant little pocket book she analyses why the world of fashion is so important – to the economy, to society and to each of us personally. Through 101 provocative entries she considers – among other things – technology, ethics, timeless craft and instant fast-fashion. This is a book to encourage us all to think hard about what fashion means to us.

The Thames and Hudson Dictionary of Graphic Design and Designers (Third edition) by Alan and Isabella Livingston

The Thames & Hudson Dictionary of Graphic Design and Designers (Third edition)

Alan and Isabella Livingston

260 pages, with 545 illustrations, 78 in colour
ISBN 978 0500 204139

Now in its third edition, this dictionary contains around 750 entries offering detailed information on every important graphic designer, movement, agency, practice and publication from 1840 up to the present day.

There are clear and accessible definitions, from the technical minutiae of typography to computer-aided design and printing. Cross-references make navigating between entries simple and there is a handy bibliography of key texts and recommended reading, as well as a timeline that puts the most influential individuals, developments and movements in chronological order.

Graffiti and Street Art by Anna Waclawek

Graffiti and Street Art

Anna Waclawek

208 pages, with bibliography, list of artists’ websites and index
211 colour illustrations
ISBN 978 0500 204078

Here is a really well illustrated and well-priced survey of the development of art on the street across the past half century. It covers works from around the world and considers not only the different forms of urban art, but also the motivations and practices of the artists. This will be a very useful book for teachers considering aspects of visual communications and graphics as well as those teaching contemporary art practice or critical and contextual studies.


Graphic Design School (Fifth edition) 
A Foundation Course for Graphic Designers, Working in print, Moving Image and Digital Media

David Dabner, Sheena Calvert and Anouki Casey

208 pages with resources, glossary, bibliography and index
Over 400 colour illustrations
ISBN 978 0500 291436

An up-to-the-minute new edition of a bestselling title, this very practical book explores what graphic design is, what it does, and how you can do it too. Each of the eight units in the book is broken down into modules, with practical exercises and assignments, helping students to understand the principles and practices of the subject. Real graphic design briefs illustrate each section and offer specific advice on digital imaging techniques, motion graphics, designing for the web and for small-screen applications.

Graffiti School by Chris Ganter

Graffiti School - A Student Guide with Teacher’s Manual

Chris Ganter

176 pages, with timeline, glossary, further reading and index
Over 300 illustrations, 101 in colour
ISBN 978 0500 290972

This is an unusual book on a difficult subject. Chris Ganter is a graffiti artist and teacher, and makes no bones about the difficulties and penalties that await an illegal graffiti sprayer. His book aims to prepare students to create high quality, skilful and – above all – legal work.

After discussing the background to graffiti, he introduces the basic elements: tags (letters made with lines) and throw-ups (letters created with outlines). Through a series of exercises he shows how to create alphabets of matching tag and throw-up letters (a great resource for anyone teaching more generally about fonts or lettering) before moving on to exploring style elements and characters.

He emphasises the importance of good preparation, practising lines and forms in sketchbooks and on canvas to become confident and skilful and gives lots of information about health and safety when using a spraycan. The last section of the book is a manual for teachers, filled with information, exercises and ideas for using graffiti skills within the curriculum, to engage students and build confidence.

Digital Fonts by Alec Julien

Digital Fonts The Complete Guide to Creating, Marketing and Selling

Alec Julien

208 pages, with glossary, list of books and websites and index
Illustrated in colour throughout
ISBN 978 0500 290460

This practical guidebook begins with an explanation of typography and how it works. Then step-by-step tutorials and interviews with professional font designers explore every aspect of the font creation process, from sketching initial letterforms to mastering the font creation software packages Fontlab and Fontographer. This book also addresses the important issue of how designers can best market and sell their fonts, and includes advice on copywriting and working with foundries.

Throughout the book, screen grabs and illustrated diagrams accompany clear and accessible text, clarifying each part of every process and arming readers with all the essential information they need.

Graphic Design Theory by Meredith Davis

Graphic Design Theory

Meredith Davis

256 pages with timeline, glossary, notes, bibliography and index
260 illustrations, 188 in colour
ISBN 978 0500 29990491

This book is the first comprehensive introduction to the theory of graphic design, explaining clearly and accessibly why exploring the context of any piece of work is so important. A very experienced teacher, Meredith Davis explains complex theories with great clarity, encouraging students to evaluate design work critically and use theoretical frameworks to enhance their practice.

Topics include: communication models; visual representation as a system of signs; cognitive approaches to design; modernism and post-modernism; and the social, cultural and material contexts of contemporary design.

Photography: The New Basics by Graham Diprose and Jeff Robins

Photography: The New Basics

Graham Diprose and Jeff Robins

ISBN 978 0500 289785

This is a thoroughly comprehensive textbook on photography, covering everything from the choice of camera to managing digital output. It assumes that students will be using digital technology as their primary medium but also covers film and darkroom technology. Part 1 deals with basic photographic processes while Part 2 provides a survey of different genres and encourages students to experiment with them. There are chapter-by-chapter exercises to help reinforce each stage of tuition, as well as excellent diagrams and illustrations.

The Photograph as Contemporary Art by Charlotte Cotton

The Photograph as Contemporary Art

Charlotte Cotton

256 pages text, bibliography and index
249 illustrations, 212 in colour
Paperback (third, revised edition)
ISBN 978 0500 204184

Charlotte Cotton’s best-selling book on photography as a form of fine art is now in its third edition, updated to take account of new developments, processes and artists. This is a very exciting and dynamic area of contemporary art, which many young artists are exploring. Cotton’s book provides an introduction to the story so far, and gives pointers to new directions for the future.

Why It Does Not Have To Be In Focus by Jackie Higgins

Why It Does Not Have To Be In Focus
Modern Photography Explained

Jackie Higgins

224 pages with index
100 colour illustrations
PLC binding
ISBN 978 0500 290958

With an increasing cross-over between fine art and photography over the past couple of decades, images made by photographers are no longer just reproductions of a particular time and place. Jackie Higgins profiles the work of 100 modern photographers, showing how their innovative use of different techniques, styles and ideas has created a new, inspiring and adventurous style of work.

Fashion Photography Next by Magdalene Keaney

Fashion Photography Next

Magdalene Keaney

272 pages with index and suggested further reading
272 illustrations, 208 in colour
ISBN 978 0500 544358

Magdalene Kearney has brought together fresh and original work by 35 emerging photographers from 14 countries to show how diverse and vibrant contemporary photography can be. With profiles of all the artists and an essay on the prevailing trends and direction of fashion imagery, this is a great book for aspiring fashionistas as well as for up-and-coming photographers.

The Street Photographer’s Manual by David Gibson

The Street Photographer’s Manual

David Gibson

192 pages with glossary, bibliography and index
Over 100 colour photographs
PLC binding
ISBN 978 0500 291306

Whether you are working with a top notch digital camera or a mobile phone, acclaimed photographer David Gibson believes that it is possible to make fascinating images from the streets around you. His book is constructed around 20 projects with titles such as ‘Sequences’, ‘Shadows’ and ‘Objects’, coupled with profiles of 20 leading street photographers from around the world. Filled with practical tips, it also contains a glossary and suggestions for further reading.

Photographer’s Sketchbooks by Stephen McLaren and Bryan Formhals

Photographer’s Sketchbooks

Stephen McLaren and Bryan Formhals

320 pages, with 520 illustrations in colour and black and white
ISBN 978 0500 544341

This behind-the-scenes look at photography provides a real insight into the work that goes on before the click of the shutter. 43 leading photographers have chosen material that shows how they develop their work and ideas, from Polaroid studies and sketches to notes and contact sheets. This is a great resource for anyone interested in the creative process, with the photographers discussing their methods and essays looking at issues of contemporary practice.

Intaglio. The Complete Safety-First System for Creative Printmakers by Robert Adam and Carol Robertson

Intaglio.  The Complete Safety-First System for Creative Printmakers

Robert Adam and Carol Robertson

240 pages, with glossary, index and notes on suppliers
229 illustrations, 199 in colour
ISBN 978 0500 286616

Screenprinting. The Complete Water-Based System by Robert Adam and Carol Robertson

Screenprinting. The Complete Water-Based System

Robert Adam and Carol Robertson

208 pages, with glossary, index and notes on suppliers
228 illustrations, 191 in colour
ISBN 978 0500 284254

The authors of these two handbooks are highly experienced printmakers and teachers, who specialise in methods of work that prioritise safety in the studio. With clear step-by-step instructions and illustrations, they take readers through setting up a workshop, choosing safe, non-toxic materials and producing and collating prints.

The Intaglio volume covers acrylic-resist etching, collagraphy, engraving, drypoint and mezzotint, while the Screenprinting book looks at printing using paper stencils, screen filter stencils and photostencils, with opaque, translucent, metallic, gouache or acrylic paints on paper, fabric, metal or PVC.

Material Innovation: Product Design by Andrew H. Dent and Leslie Sherr

Material Innovation: Product Design

Andrew H. Dent and Leslie Sherr

208 pages with materials directory, glossary, resources and bibliography
355 colour illustrations
ISBN 978 0500 291290

This is the first book in a new series called ‘Material Innovation’, looking at the cutting-edge materials being developed for use in different areas of design, architecture and the creative disciplines. Here – in the field of Product Design – we have profiles of a selection of innovative materials, plus an extensive illustrated directory, drawn from the largest materials and processes library in the world.  

Sculpture Now by Anna Moszaynska

Sculpture Now

Anna Moszaynska

232 pages, with bibliography and index
215 illustrations, 209 in colour
ISBN 978 0500 204177

Sculpture Now surveys the dynamic developments in sculptural practice that have taken place worldwide since the mid-1990s. As artists experiment with new materials and practices, sculpture has become one of the most exciting contemporary art forms and this book surveys the work of established artists such as Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst and Ai Weiwei alongside that of promising newcomers.

Textiles - The Art of Mankind by Mary Schoeser

Textiles - The Art of Mankind

Mary Schoeser

568 pages, with notes, bibliography and index
1,058 colour illustrations
ISBN 978 0500 516454

This encyclopaedic volume provides a fantastic resource for anyone studying textiles, fashion, surface pattern, design, craft and art - or just wanting to explore a multitude of fabrics and textiles from around the world. Rather than providing a chronological survey, the book is divided into chapters that consider the context, make-up, structure, texture and imagery of the pieces - bringing together examples from many different eras and places to explore the ways in which textiles reflect and re-fashion our world experience. 

Excellent colour plates provide close-up details of structure and decoration, as well as illustrating pieces that range from simple flatweaves to installation art and sculpture.

Art and Architecture in Mexico by James Oles

Art and Architecture in Mexico

James Oles

432 pages, with timeline, bibliographical essay and index
275 illustrations, 248 in colour
ISBN 978 0500 204061

This new, double-sized volume in the World of Art series is a thoroughly comprehensive history of Mexican art and architecture from the time of the Spanish Conquest right up to the early years of the 21st century.

The book has excellent coverage of popular figures such as Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Tina Modotti and José Clemente Orozco, contextualised within the narrative of Mexican history. A wide range of images show how Mexican art has synthesised different strands of European, indigenous and even Far Eastern art to produce distinctive and exciting art forms that reflect the issues at the heart of the country’s political and social change.

Art and Crafts of Islamic Lands - Principles. Materials. Practice by Khaled Azzam, The Prince's School of Traditional Arts

Art and Crafts of Islamic Lands - Principles. Materials. Practice

Khaled Azzam, 
The Prince's School of Traditional Arts

288 pages, with over 1,000 illustrations in colour and black and white
ISBN 978 0500 517024

Written by tutors at The Prince's School of Traditional Arts, this book introduces the fundamental principles of Islamic arts and crafts, such as geometry, islimi and calligraphy. It goes on to explain the materials and tools required, before giving clear, illustrated step-by-step guides to working in calligraphy, plaster carving, miniature painting, parquetry, ceramics and glassblowing. A really good resource for anyone wanting to learn more about Islamic craft and design.

Islamic Geometric Design by Eric Broug

Islamic Geometric Design

Eric Broug

256 pages, with 800 illustrations in colour and black and white, including 350 line drawings
ISBN 978 0500 516959

This is an in-depth look at the complexity and context of Islamic geometric designs, showing how different ‘families’ of designs developed and teaching readers to reproduce and invent their own patterns using a ruler and a pair of compasses.

Viking Art by James Graham-Campbell

Viking Art

James Graham-Campbell

208 pages, with bibliography and index
220 illustrations, 156 in colour
ISBN 978 0500 204191

This new volume in the World of Art series covers the intricate and beautiful art styles of the Viking Age, covering the period c.800 AD to c.1100 AD. It provides both historical and geographical background to the Vikings’ different art forms, including woodwork, metalwork, carved stones, decorated weapons and fine jewellery. Wonderful artefacts and fascinating stories give an extra dimension to any study of Viking art and history.

Body Art by Nicholas Thomas

Body Art

Nicholas Thomas

208 pages with further reading and index
186 illustrations, 143 in colour
ISBN 9780500 204207

In recent years, body art has proliferated in a remarkable way. Tattoos are now sported by celebrities and have developed from simple identifiers to images of great beauty and complexity, while body painting, inking and cosmetic adornment have all become part of our wider culture. Nicholas Thomas explores these developments and considers the ways in which globalised culture has brought these varied body arts to us, from around the world.