Our pick of the best illustration and design books of 2017

books, design, illustration, 2017

Taking a look back at an amazing year for publishing in the design industry, we reveal our top books of 2017.

2017 has been an excellent year for publishing in the design industry. Many of our favourite artists and studios have released captivating publications, proving time and time again that print is most certainly not dead. From independently published zines to interior design handbooks, we have read some amazing titles this past year.

To make things a little easier, we have split our favourite books into caterogies and picked a favourite from each. So, without further ado, it is time to reveal our winners…

books, design, illustration, 2017

Leaf by Sandra Dieckmann

Picture Book | Leaf by Sandra Dieckmann

Let’s start with our favourite picture book of 2017. In this category our winner was clear as we were blown away by Leaf, the debut picturebook by illustrator Sandra Dieckmann. Having followed Sandra’s work for years, we couldn’t wait to see what colourful adventure she would conjure up when working alongside Flying Eye Books.

In the months leading up to it’s release, Sandra teased her social media followers with snippets of Leaf. Each added to the suspense surrounding it’s release…. It did not disappoint!

Greg McIndoe
books, design, illustration, 2017

A spread from inside Leaf by Sandra Dieckmann

The book tells the story of a polar bear who unexpectedly finds himself in the woods. Isolated by all the other animals who fear him, all the bear wants to do is go home and he is prepared to go to extreme, leafy lengths to do so. Like all great picturebooks, Leaf is a story with clear message. The short tale introduces the idea of helping outsiders rather than excluding them. In today’s political climate, Leaf’s message is more important than ever, making it the picture-book 2017 has needed.

Dalston Monsterzz by Dilraj Mann

Graphic Novel | Dalston Monsterzz by Dilraj Mann

Our favourite graphic novel of 2017 comes from Flying Eye Books’ sister publisher Nobrow Press and illustrator Dilraj Mann. Dalston Monsterzz explores themes of friendship and corruption as it tells the story of a futuristic city at war. Taking place in a vision of the future not far from today, the story starts with a bang and maintains an excitable pace throughout.

books, design, illustration, 2017

Our favourite page from inside Dalston Monsterzz by Dilraj Mann

Riveting plot aside, the book itself is a thing of beauty. From the character’s totally on trend outfits, to the pattern-covered, pastel-coloured monsters they’re fighting against – each element of the aesthetic works to add a contemporary twist to this classic adventure genre. The balance between action-packed plot and stylish execution is what wins Dalston our top spot this year.

Orange Ginger Jam by Fran Meneses

Zine | Orange Ginger Jam by Fran Nerd

Fran Meneses’ – or Fran Ned to her fans – was inspired by her trip to Mexico to create our favourite zine of 2017. Everything from the food she ate while there, to thoughts she had and adventures she went on is included within its 18 pages. The simplistic idea behind the travel journal makes it all the more personal.

books, design, illustration, 2017

A spread from inside Fran Menens’ 2017 travel journal zine

The randomness of the thoughts and feelings inside – not to mention the title – make’s reading Fran’s latest zine feel like stepping inside her brain.

Greg McIndoe

Fran has an instantly recognisable way of drawing, and a distinctive eye for colour combinations. Particularly inspired is her choice never to use black. Using navy for her line work instead lifts each illustration, working harmoniously with the pastel tones used elsewhere.

books, design, illustration, 2017

Ghost Story Box by Ella Bailey

Unorthodox Book | Ghost Story Box by Ella Bailey

We love it when publishers release something a little different from their usual title. Laurence King’s story box series puts an innovative twist on the classic picture book by asking children to create their own story. Each box comes with a set of double-sided jigsaw pieces, each showing a different scene from which readers are tasked to construct their own fairytale.


The best thing about picture books are that they engage children’s imaginations. By not just asking them to picture the story they are being read but completely constructing their own…

Greg McIndoe
books, design, illustration, 2017

3 of the jigsaw pieces Ella designed for her Story Box

For the series’ second edition, they employed the considerable illustrative talents of Ella Bailey. Having worked on several picturebook projects before, Ella is well versed in the genre. Taking inspiration from Halloween, Ella created a series of ghoulish illustrations for her Ghost Story Box.

books, design, illustration, 2017

The New Bohemians Handbook by Justina Blakeney

Interior Design Book | The New Bohemians Handbook by Justina Blakeney

In 2015, Justina Blakeney’s debut book The New Bohemians won our award for the most inspiring interior design book of the year. It’s follow up, The New Bohemians Handbook is equally inspiring, and so has nabbed the top spot once again! The idea for a follow-up to Justina’s well received debut was originally meant to be a much smaller title. Unable to fit all her boho-wisdom into a short book however, the end result is a 300 page long stunner of a coffee table book.

books, design, illustration, 2017

A spread from inside The New Bohemians Handbook by Justina Blakeney

Justina’s second title takes the form of a helpful handbook rather than inspiration catalogue. It aims to guide you through each step of turning any dwelling into a personal sanctuary. The boho handbook’s main concern is energy. With a bit of colour, some styling and a few simple DIYs, the book aims to help you add positive vibes to any interior.

Screen Printing: The Ultimate Studio Guide by Print Club London

Guide Book | Screen Printing: The Ultimate Studio Guide From Sketchbook To Squeegee by Print Club London

Finally, Print Club London’s new release has won our award for most helpful guide book. Print Club London was launched in 2007 by Fred and Kate Higginson. Over the past decade, they have learnt a thing or two about printing.

Every ounce of the studio’s print wisdom has been poured into their new book to create the ultimate guide to printmaking.

Greg McIndoe
books, design, illustration, 2017

A spread from inside Print Club London’s new book

Taking you inside the club, the book shows you how a studio works. And it gives you lessons from some of the studio’s most experienced members too. Step by step instructions come from artists including Ben Eine, Rob Ryan and Steve Wilson. And best of all, the book doesn’t stop their. As it says in the title, the guide takes you from sketchbook to squeegee and beyond. There are also sections on how to sell yourself as an artist and put on your own show. If you want to become a printing pro, then this is basically your new bible.


Posted on Dec 21st, 17 by

Greg McIndoe - also known as Headless Greg - is an illustrator and design writer based in Glasgow, Scotland. He regularly writes for design magazines and online platforms, interviewing fellow illustrators and leading creatives.

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