creative anarchy book review

Creative Anarchy: Turn the Rules Upside-Down

In today’s crowded marketplace a new product is only as good as its packaging and marketing campaigns. How can you make it stand out from the competition? How can you update the design of your product without alienating your customer? The book, Creative Anarchy: How to Break the Rules of Graphic Design for Creative Success provides ideation techniques and creative tools to push boundaries and expectations while preserving the function and message of the design.

Part One: learn the rules

The first half of the book covers the history, purpose and importance of basic design principals (color, layout, texture, typography, etc.) and why design matters in the bigger picture. Relevant real-world examples accompany the concepts and cover a wide range of cultures and styles—everything from political posters and Russian protest groups to Catalan restaurants and San Francisco rock bands. This content may at first seem basic for the experienced designer, but I found the author’s advice inspiring and necessary. After all, you can’t break the rules if you don’t know them in the first place.

After a quick run through the basics, the author covers the soft skills needed in design work, such as “leaving your ego at the door,” designer ethics and effectively working with difficult clients. I thought this chapter was a nice segue between the section on following the rules and learning how to break them effectively.

creative anarchy book review
Gallery pages

Part Two: break the rules

The second half of the book is broken down into seven chapters, each detailing the reasoning behind when, where, why and how to push creative boundaries. Each chapter includes a gallery with visual examples, and exercises to put the concepts into practice.

Here are some of the learning objectives outlined in the exercise sections:

  • Advertising exercises focus on finding different perspectives from which to sell products or services, how to surprise the audience and challenge your problem-solving skills.
  • Branding exercises push you to find design solutions that you may not otherwise have thought of, use underutilized or unimagined materials and push the boundaries by examining new trends.
  • Poster exercises help you generate thought-provoking dynamic imagery that will grab a viewers attention and hold it through the entire message and tap into the wonder of the absurd to prompt fresh ideas.
  • Publication Design exercises help you to discover patterns to make your design livelier and more interesting, and to find flow in order to tell a story with your design.
  • Promotions and Invitation exercises help you to think outside the box to speak to all personalities that are involved in the event and create visual excitement to create a sense of participation.
  • Packaging exercises explore historical movements to develop relevant and modern design concepts and visuals. Another important exercise teaches you to dream big while at the same time successfully work inside of a budget.
  • Interactive design exercises focus on entertaining the audience while at the same time keeping things user-friendly and simple.

Besides the theme-focused exercises each section also includes creativity exercises to challenge you, push your comfort zone and expand your design horizons. This book can help inspire creatives to develop unique designs that are beautiful, functional, productive and profitable. It is a great resource to have on the shelf for brainstorming, overcoming a creative block and surpassing one’s own limitations.

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