Effective and successful designers no longer need to just “make things,” they need to be curious thinkers who understand how to solve problems that have a true impact on the world we live in and how to show the power of designing for social good. Now more than ever, the graphic design industry needs a book that teaches the foundations and theories of design while simultaneously speaking to the topics of history, ethics, and accessibility in order to make designs that are the most effective for all people.

In Powered by Design, educator, designer, and public speaker Renee Stevens brings a truly up to date and thoughtful approach to an introduction to graphic design. As Assistant Professor at the S.I. Newhouse School of Communication at Syracuse University, Stevens created this book to be at home equally in academia and outside of the school setting. With a conversational and approachable tone, Stevens’ book is for anyone who wants to gain a more practical understanding of what graphic design is today, and the power and potential it has: from students to novice graphic designers to anyone who wants to build a solid foundation of design skills so that they can work more effectively with professional designers. Stevens covers topics such as:

  • Choosing the right typeface.
  • Hierarchy and visual weight.
  • Creating design systems.
  • Balancing tension.
  • Visualizing data.
  • Understanding color and mood.
  • Defining a story structure.
  • User testing and critique.
  • Immersive design (designing for all the senses).
  • Determining when a design is finished.
  • How to make a living with design.

Woven throughout is the crucial idea that you must embrace empathy in everything you design in order to create work that is the most inclusive. Design has the power and potential to make real impact in our everyday lives, and this book will show you how to do that starting with your first design experience.


“One of the best Graphic Design books for beginners.” ― Book Authority.
Named a “Top 10 Graphic Design Book” ― Master Bundles, 2021.
Named One of “13 Must-Read Graphic Design Books That Will Shape Your Career” ― Dribbble.com, 2021.
Received “One of the Best Graphic Design Books for Beginners” Award ― Book Authority, 2020.
Ranked #11 of 50 on the “Essential Book Every Graphic Designer Should Read in 2020” List ― Shillington Education, 2020.

About the Author

Renée Stevens is an interactive and immersive designer, educator, and speaker. Her creative work focuses on innovative ways design can help overcome learning disabilities and create more accessible and inclusive learning environments. For over a decade she has run her own interactive design studio. You can find her teaching at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, where she is the Associate Chair of the Visual Communications Department, overseeing the undergraduate and graduate design programs. In 2017, she was named an Educator to Watch by GDUSA. As a speaker, she has been invited to speak around the world. She lives in New York with her husband and two children who keep her creating every day. You can learn more at reneestevens.design.

Powered by Design: An Introduction to Problem Solving with Graphic Design. Paperback: 240 pages. Rocky Nook (June 23, 2020)

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