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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Creatives are taught the rules of design by mentors and professors. We are told what to do and how to do it. "Follow the rules and color within the lines," they say. "Only use two fonts on a page and don't make your logo too complicated," they say. It's time for us to tell them to shove it. Creative Anarchy explains and explores both rule-following and rule-breaking design. It includes tips to throw design caution to the wind, designers' stories with galleries of work, and creative exercises to help push your designs to the next level. Creative Anarchy is about great design and awesome ideas. You'll find sections specifically devoted to designing logos, posters, websites, publications, advertising and more.…

Creative Anarchy

by Denise Bosler

Overall Book Review:

Creative Anarchy is published by How Books, affiliated with HOW Magazine which has been a design industry staple since the mid 1980’s. (I started my first subscription in 1987).  This book is everything I would expect from HOW and more.

Creative Anarchy starts with the book—it is two books in one meant to be read starting at either the front (Learn the Rules)or back covers (Break the Rules). Thus the book itself becomes an illustration for the author’s point.  Author Denise Bosler takes the reader through a comprehensive overview of the major rules of design, each illustrated with well chosen examples. Type, color, grids and when to not use the computer are all covered, as well as a section on client relations and parking your ego at the door. This is all accomplished without the book coming across as fodder for a lecture or beating common errors (Comic Sans).

The second half of the book shows real world examples of design rules being broken by genre: advertising, branding, packaging, etc.  Each of the Breaking the Rules examples is accompanied by an explanation of what rules were broken and why.  (Sorry, “because it looked cool” is never a reason to break the rules.)

One of the most surprising elements of this book was the “Try It” challenges (Learn the Rules) and “Let’s Do This” sections (Break the Rules). Readers are challenged to create their own libraries, idea files, and experience basic ideas in different ways, such as using a leaf to paint a line.  Established and novice designers are challenged to rethink old projects. These challenges bring a new dimension to the book making it suitable for a 101 level text book, a launch pad for the designer caught it a rut, or a springboard for someone considering a future in graphic design.

This book is a wonderful addition to my design library. I am sure I will be referring back to the helpful diagrams in the type section more than once.  I have noted several of the challenge sections for the next time I find myself mired in design doldrums.

Review of an Advance Reader’s Copy

Our guest reviewer was Lori, a graphic artist with over 25 years of experience in the design industry and the designer of the Compass Book Ratings’ Logo.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Cadence Group

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  None

Note:  There is one image that has an intentional misspelling of a f-word deriviative.

Violence/Gore:  3 layouts that were violent in nature (and meant to be shocking), one with a depiction of blood; an image of dismembered plastic baby dolls for an anti-child abuse campaign.

Sex/Nudity:  Several layouts with sexual innuendo, nudity/partial nudity, incorporation of condoms in images, etc.

Mature Subject Matter:

Sexual images incorporated into graphic design.

Alcohol / Drug Use:


Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

Please note that reviews dated prior to February 1, 2012 came from and had a more informal content review process. Those reviews have been added to our database because they have a lot of great content information, but their format will look different and there may be wider variation in those reviews.