David Airey is an independent graphic designer working with companies of all sizes since 2005.

The Art of Looking Sideways

The Art of Looking Sideways

The Art of Looking Sideways. A visual feast of a design book by the late, great, Alan Fletcher — who left this world back in 2006. It’s over 1,000 pages long, so not ideal for reading on the bus. More of an inspiration catalogue than anything, The Art of Looking Sideways can be opened at any page. No need to thumb in order.

The Art of Looking Sideways

What’s it about? Alan Fletcher offers a brief answer to this question using the jacket of the book (which must be read sideways).

The Art of Looking Sideways

The Art of Looking Sideways

It contains different spreads about different subjects, brought together from throughout the ages. In the words of Alan Fletcher, “It’s a cross between a collage and a box of goodies.”

The Art of Looking Sideways

“This book attempts to open windows to glimpse views rather than dissect the pictures on wall. To look at things from unlikely angles. References to sources are occasionally provided to keep you going. The book has no thesis, is neither a whodunnit nor a how to do it, has no beginning, middle or end.”

The Art of Looking Sideways

The Art of Looking Sideways

The Art of Looking Sideways

The Art of Looking Sideways

Below is a YouTube video showing a 10 minute interview with Alan, about the launch of his book. If you can’t see the video, visit YouTube here.

Ben recommends it, too.

The Art of Looking Sideways

The Art of Looking Sideways is available to buy from Amazon.com for around £17 (GBP) or $26 (USD).

Visit The Designer’s Bookstore for more recommendations.

My second book on Amazon

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39 appreciated comments about “The Art of Looking Sideways”

  1. I always flick through this book in the library because as you say, any page has inspiration on it. An excellent book.

  2. Very interesting looking, I’ll have to check it out. I’ve heard of Alan Fletcher before although I can’t see I’ve heard about this book (maybe in passing, if so it didn’t stick).

    1000 pages, wow, definitely looks like one for the coffee table (or the bathroom, LOL)!

  3. Great book to bring up, I haven’t opened my copy for some time. Maybe I should take a look at it again. Something that’s taken for granted w/ that book is the price. Considering how many pages are there and the potential to really get something out of the book it’s insanely cheap for comparable books. S M L XL which is comparable in scale though not in ideas is double if not triple the cost of Looking Sideways.

  4. Nice recommendation..looks great for inspiration, 1,000 pages – like a design bible..:)

  5. Crazy, I got this book not so long ago – havent got round to looking at it yet though.
    Im always overwhelmed when I see it on the shelf because of its thickness :P

    Cheers for the reminder.

    Ash

  6. This is a really good book and as design books go this has got to be one of the biggest. I have not read the book for a little while now but maybe it’s time I took another look. Thank you for the post.

  7. By the way, some other great books that are just as inspirational:

    “Area”, also by Phaidon – A huge book of artwork from 100 graphic designers from all over the world.
    ” A Smile in the Mind” – Beryl McAlhone, David Stuart – A great book on how to create ads that have impact and make the viewer think more.
    “Creative Advertising” – Mario Pricken – The same kind of thing.

    And my favourite, “1000 Graphic Elements” – Wilson Harvey, London – Tons of inspiration for anyone who enjoys the production side of things. Bindings, emobossing, lamination, gold/silver leaf, hole punches…everything. I love this book and only wish that I had the clients and the budget to use them all!

  8. Thanks David, we have made the purchase on you recommendation, our current inspiration catalogue is
    New Vintage Type by Steven Heller and Gail Anderson
    We are not in the know about design, but we like this book a lot. Already looking forward to reading The Art of Looking Sideways.

  9. I’ve looked for a book that I could recommend to clients on logo design for most of the last five years. As it turns out I was looking by title, this is exactly what I was looking for. I did glance through New Vintage Type a few weeks back, nice as well.

  10. Hey David,

    OMG this book looks awesome. Thank you very much for bringing it to my attention.
    I think this is going to be the next one to buy.

    Thanks,

    Szabi

  11. I’ve been contemplating getting this, but it’s always difficult to decide since books based on visual culture tend to become outdated very quickly (that and I’m a poor student). Based on your review I’d say that isn’t the case with this particular publication. Thank you :)

  12. Have been thinking about buying this one. Now I’m off to Amazon. Looks fantastic. Thanks for the thumbs-up, David.

  13. David, That’s Ben recommending it not me. Although, of course, I would.

  14. Michael,

    It really is a bargain, considering the ideas contained within. I hope you enjoy revisiting your own copy.

    Neil,

    Thanks for adding your own recommendations here. You’ll not be surprised to know one or two of them will be making an appearance on davidairey.com in the near future.

    Steve, Johno,

    I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. This is a book that you can come back to over and over again when in need of a little design inspiration.

    Richard,

    You picked up on my mistake before I had a chance to revisit my site (not much online action during weekends). Thanks for that, and for adding your recommendation too.

    To everyone else, I’m glad you appreciated the feature. Enjoy your week.

  15. This is a great book. I bought it the same day I bought “A Smile in the Mind”. If you haven’t seen this one it is a must read.

  16. Wow. What a book, and for only $26? This is a deal! Thanks for the find David.

  17. I was bought this book as a present last Christmas. As you say, great for randomly flipping through for inspiration!

  18. Looks like an interesting book. I don’t have any books on design, and am wondering what you would suggest as your top 2-3 graphic design books of all time.

    Thanks!

  19. Great Book David! Thanks for shedding light on this one!
    I’m going to go shop for this one.

    THKS!

  20. Hi Peter, Steve O,

    Glad you’re both in agreement.

    Tanner, Umberto,

    It’s my pleasure guys.

    Jordan,

    What types of design books are you most interested in? Selecting a top two or three from every graphic design book isn’t an easy task.

  21. Nice one, David!

    This is one of my favourite books. I love nothing better than sitting for half an hour flipping through it. Have enjoyed doing so every so often over the past 3 years, and I’m still not convinced I’ve seen everything there is to see in that book.

  22. Yes! This is my all time favorite book. Wonderful little nuggets on every page. Great idea to showcase it here.

  23. I have read each and every page of ‘The Art of Looking Sideways’ and could read it from cover to cover 1,000 more times.

  24. I’d been toying with buying this book for ages, seemed to appear on so many ‘must have’ design book lists… this post made my mind up so cheers david.

    coming from web design but wanting to move more into graphic design, it can be a bit daunting knowing where to look to get into the design ‘headspace’ of a different medium, something recommended reads from clued up designers are really helpful for.

    thanks again :)

  25. Hi david, this book looks great. After reading your post, I went to a nearest store Odyssey, where I can find PHAIDON books.

    Even though I can’t afford this book now, I was Lucky the store allowed to go thru their books sitting at the store….. Its awesome…very very excellent….

    You know daily visiting them on my way to home from work, to have a glimpse of books like this :D

  26. I think it would be amazing to look through your Library of books. I bet I could lock myself in your office and not even realize that days have passed because I would be loving your books so much. This one has especially beautiful typography.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Rachel
    AllGraphicDesign.com

  27. Jonno, James, Ben,

    Glad you’re all in agreement.

    Chaitanya,

    Great that you can still enjoy the book at your local store.

    Rachel,

    You’re more than welcome to visit. Just drop me a line.

  28. Looks very interesting, what looks particularly interesting is the randomness of it all.

    Very ingenius (and enjoyable to create I’m sure) a book that is like a scrapbook of concepts, visuals, thoughts … no purpose other than to inspire.

    I must get myself a nice book case and start collecting cool books like this.

  29. The randomness is oddly appealing, Amanda. The fact that you don’t need to stop and start at a particular point is ideal for inspiration.

  30. This is without doubt one of my favourite design books and one I look at quite frequently. I’m trying to get into more illustration work and I find this a huge source of inspiration. A must have for the book shelf.

  31. Hi Dave

    Just a quick note on a follow up to this, that your readers might be interested in. I was in town on Saturday and I bought “Beware the Wet Paint” which is by a number of authors, writing essays on Alan Fletchers work. It’s much smaller (in terms of number of pages) than The Art of Looking Sideways, but it still has Alan Fletcher’s designs on every page.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Beware-Wet-Paint-Designs-Fletcher/dp/0714843784

  32. Hi Jennifer,

    Thanks for the recommendation. I’ve not seen that one before, and the description reads great.

  33. What Ive always noticed with my copy… is that I always find something new to read in it… even though i feel ive thumbed through the entire book at some point or the other… there is always m*o*r*e that i hadnt noticed before…
    Its a MASTERPIECE….
    Most highly recommended…
    When I first saw it, I just knew I couldn’t go back home without a copy of my own…

  34. David, I’d like to thank you for this recommendation! Shortly after reading this post (some months back) I bought this book, as well as “A Smile in the Mind” as mentioned by Neal Martin earlier in this thread. Both are very inspiring books and great to flip through.

    This post is a bit late, but I stumbled upon it while browsing your site’s history.

  35. You’re very welcome, Tjeerd. The book’s certainly deserving of a feature.

  36. I absolutely love this book, I’m forever looking at it for inspiration.

  37. Hello All,

    A copy of this book just arrived today from Amazon, can’t wait to read it. It’s design looks amazing.

    Best wishes
    Graeme

  38. Hi David,
    I picked this book up the other day at the Library of the college where I am about to start my Dip in Graphic Design … it really called to me, and regardless of it’s weight I just had to get it.
    I love it!! Definitely one I will keep an eye out to purchase for myself. I have heaps of pink Post-it notes tagging pages for future reference!

    I’ve linked to your page on http://www.6malesandme.blogspot.com where I have mentioned the book.
    cheers
    Grace

  39. It’s a visual treat for the eyes and intriguing for the mind. You will lose track of time if you start browsing through this. If you are in any way related to the field of art (painting, photography, design, etc.) just buy the book. You will not regret it. Completely worth the money!

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