Adrian Shaughnessy

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Adrian Shaughnessy is a British graphic designer, writer, educator and publisher.

Adrian Shaughnessy
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BornAdrian John Wilson Shaughnessy
17 June 1953
Occupationgraphic designer, writer, educator, publisher

Shaughnessy co-founded the design studio Intro in 1988 and the publishing company Unit Editions in 2009.[1][2]. Shaughnessy’s book How to Be a Graphic Designer, Without Losing Your Soul[3][4] has been reprinted multiple times and published in several languages.


An early obsession with music led Shaughnessy to an interest in record sleeve design and a job at the Decca Record Company where he trained as a graphic designer. Surrounded by experienced designers, Shaughnessy learned the technical and creative basics of pre-digital graphic design and worked on record covers for a variety of musical genres.

He co-founded the design group Intro in 1988[5]. The studio was an early exponent of multi-disciplinary working, combining digital filmmaking with interactive design and other digital modes of expression.

During his time as creative director of Intro, Shaughnessy edited and authored three books on contemporary record covers (the Sampler series[6]) and a studio monograph, Display Copy Only[7], published by Laurence King Publishing in 2001. After 15 years, Shaughnessy left the studio to purse an interest in writing about design and visual culture, lecturing and independent consulting.

Writing and publishing

Shaughnessy regularly writes for the international design press and is regularly called upon as a commentator and critic[8]. Notable articles include a survey of ECM record covers[9] for Eye, 'The Politics of Desire and Looting'[10] for Design Observer and a profile of Daniel Eatock for the Eames Institute[11]. He has written for Creative Review, It's Nice That, PRINT, Etapes, Idea (Japan) and contributed a monthly column to Design Week. From 2006 to 2009 he was founding editor of Varoom[12] (published by the AOI, it charted illustration and image-making across the world).

Shaughnessy has also written obituaries of leading graphic designers for The Guardian – most notably on Pentagram co-founder Colin Forbes[13] and Ken Garland[14]. He is an occasional contributor to The Wire.

”'How to Be a Graphic Designer, Without Losing Your Soul

In 2005 Shaughnessy wrote How to Be a Graphic Designer, Without Losing Your Soul[15]. A second updated edition was published in 2010. The book has been reprinted many times and appears in numerous languages, including Mandarin, Korean, Japanese, and various European languages. Since first publication, the book features regularly in lists of recommended titles for graphic designers[16][17][18].

Unit Editions

The company was notable for establishing its reputation online and via social media[19]. Shaughnessy works as the imprint’s editorial director, to date writing and editing the majority of the published titles, including Paula Scher: Works[20][21], Herb Lubalin: American Graphic Designer, Lance Wyman: The Monograph[22] and Vaughan Oliver: Archive[23]. In 2013 he published a book of his own essays – Scratching the Surface[24] (Unit Editions).

Unit Editions was nominated in the graphic design section of the 'Beazley Designs of the Year' exhibition at London's Design Museum in 2017[25][26] and included in Creative Review's Creative Leaders list in 2018[27]. Its most recent publication is Pentagram: Living by Design. In 2023, the Unit Editions back catalogue was acquired by Thames & Hudson.


At the invitation of Neville Brody, Shaughnessy became a visiting lecturer at the Royal College of Art on the Visual Communication programme[28] (he is currently an associate lecturer). At the RCA Shaughnessy has run a series of short courses – physical and online – in typography and editorial design. He also regularly gives talks[29][30][31]on the international design conference circuit, most recently on the subject of AI and creativity[32]. Since 2017, Shaughnessy has worked as a consultant for the Beijing-based School of International Art (SIA).

Published work

Sampler: Contemporary Music Graphics, 1999. (Laurence King Publishing)[33]

Sampler 2: Art, Pop and Contemporary Music Graphics, 2000. (Laurence King Publishing)[34]

Display Copy Only: A Book of Intro Work, 2001. (Laurence King Publishing)[35]

How To Be A Graphic Designer, Without Losing Your Soul, 2005 (revised 2010). (Laurence King Publishing)[36]

Graphic Design: A User's Manual, 2009. (Laurence King Publishing)[37]

Studio Culture: The Secret Life of the Graphic Design Studio, 2009. (Unit Editions)[38]

Supergraphics: Transforming Space, 2010. (Unit Editions)[39]

Herb Lubalin: American Graphic Designer, 1918—81, 2012. (Unit Editions)[40]

Ken Garland: Structure and Substance, 2012. (Unit Editions)[41]

FHK Henrion: The Complete Designer, 2013. (Unit Editions)[42]

Scratching The Surface: Essays and Journalism, 2013 (Unit Editions)[43]

Manuals 1: Design & Identity Guidelines, 2014, (Unit Editions)[44]

Lance Wyman: The Monograph, 2015. (Unit Editions)[45]

Impact 1.0: Design Magazines, Journals and Periodicals [1922—73], 2016 (Unit Editions)[46]

Paula Scher: Works, 2017. (Unit Editions)[47]

Letraset: The DIY Typography Revolution, 2017. (Unit Editions)[48]

Vaughan Oliver: Archive [Condensed Edition], 2018. (Unit Editions)[49]

What Is Universal Everything?, 2019. (Unit Editions)[50]

Pentagram: Living by Design, 2023. (Unit Editions)[51]

The Graphic Language of Neville Brody 3, 2023.‎ (Thames & Hudson)[52]


  1. PrintMag (2009-09-24). "Interview with Adrian Shaughnessy and Tony Brook". PRINT Magazine. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  2. "Unit Editions". Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  3. Schwendener, Martha (2012-05-31). "Design in the Service of Subversion". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  4. How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul, 2nd Edition. 2021-05-01. ISBN 978-1-78067-765-1.
  5. Administrator, System (2003-10-09). "Shaughnessy exits from Intro". Design Week. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  6. Shaughnessy, Adrian (1999). Sampler: Contemporary Music Graphics. Universe Pub. ISBN 978-0-7893-0258-8.
  7. Display Copy Only. 2021-05-01. ISBN 978-1-85669-274-8.
  8. Heller, Steven (2011-08-25). "The Job Jobs Did". T Magazine. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  9. "Eye Magazine | Feature | One man brand?". Eye Magazine. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  10. Shaughnessy, Adrian (2018-06-28). "The Politics of Desire and Looting". Design Observer. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  11. "Kazam! Magazine | Artist as Art Form, Daniel Eatock's Process". Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  12. "The AOI - Varoom 01". The AOI. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  13. Shaughnessy, Adrian (2022-06-10). "Colin Forbes obituary". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  14. Shaughnessy, Adrian (2021-06-01). "Ken Garland obituary". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  15. "Adrian Shaughnessy Speaks Up". Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  16. Wynne, Mark; published, Beren Neale (2022-12-13). "The 38 best graphic design books on branding, logos, type and more". Creative Bloq. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  17. "13 Must-Read Graphic Design Books that will Shape Your Career | Dribbble". Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  18. "How to Be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul". Shillington Design Blog. 2018-06-28. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  19. "Eye Magazine | Feature | To have and to hold". Eye Magazine. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  20. "Exploring Unit Editions' new book on the work of Paula Scher". Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  21. "18 Essential Graphic Design Books to Read in 2023 | Blog". Domestika. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  22. updated, Jonathan Bell last (2015-09-16). "Game(s) on: Unit Editions reveals definitive Lance Wyman monograph". Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  23. Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (2019-12-29). "Vaughan Oliver, celebrated 4AD graphic designer, dies aged 62". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  24. "grain editAdrian Shaughnessy: Scratching the Surface". Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  25. Q42, Fabrique &. "Unit Editions". Design Museum. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  26. Dawood, Sarah (2017-10-17). "Review: Beazley Designs of the Year 2017 at the Design Museum". Design Week. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  27. "Unit Editions". Creative Review. 2017-06-19. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  28. "Adrian Shaughnessy". RCA Website. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  29. "Adrian Shaughnessy talks music, vinyl and graphic design for Letterform Live". Monotype. 2019-11-25. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  30. "Typographics – A conference for people who use type". Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  31. "5 Talks To Inspire | Publishing". OFFSET. 2015-12-11. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  32. "IN SESSION: AI — creative tool or existential threat?". RCA Website. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  33. Shaughnessy, Adrian (1999). Sampler: Contemporary Music Graphics. Universe Pub. ISBN 978-0-7893-0258-8.
  34. Intro (2000). Sampler 2: Art, Pop, and Contemporary Music Graphics. Laurence King. ISBN 978-1-85669-224-3.
  35. Display Copy Only. 2021-05-01. ISBN 978-1-85669-274-8.
  36. How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul, 2nd Edition. 2021-05-01. ISBN 978-1-85669-709-5.
  37. Graphic Design: A User's Manual. 2021-05-01. ISBN 978-1-85669-591-6.
  38. Shaughnessy, Adrian; Brook, Tony (2009-11-04). Studio Culture: The Secret Life of a Graphic Design Studio. Laurence King Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9562071-0-4.
  39. "Supergraphics—Transforming Space". Designers & Books. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  40. "Herb Lubalin: American Graphic Designer 1918—1981". Unit Editions. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  41. "Ken Garland: Structure and Substance, Unit Editions, 2012 - Design Reviewed". Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  42. "FHK Henrion: The Complete Designer [Unit Editions, Adrian Shaughnessy]". Display, Graphic Design Collection. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  43. "grain editAdrian Shaughnessy: Scratching the Surface". Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  44. "Manuals 1: Design & Identity Guidelines is back in print". Unit Editions. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  45. updated, Jonathan Bell last (2015-09-16). "Game(s) on: Unit Editions reveals definitive Lance Wyman monograph". Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  46. "Impact 1.0 & 2.0". Unit Editions. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  47. "Paula Scher: Works (concise)". Unit Editions. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  48. "Letraset: The DIY Typography Revolution". Unit Editions. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  49. "Vaughan Oliver: Archive". Unit Editions. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  50. "What is Universal Everything?". Unit Editions. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  51. "Pentagram: Living by Design (pre-order)". Unit Editions. Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  52. "The Graphic Language of Neville Brody 3". Thames & Hudson USA. Retrieved 2023-04-24.

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