Famous Graphic Design Quotes
If you’ve recently been feeling as if you are lacking in creativity and enthusiasm for graphic design, you may have been trying to figure out how you can re-ignite your mind with inspiration once again. Well, besides the popular advice of just continuing to work on your art projects or visit some galleries, you could also consider searching up some inspirational quotes to help spark your love and passion for graphic design!
Inspiration comes in plenitude of shapes and sizes, and you can definitely spice up your creativity thanks to famous citations of designers who have all been in the same exact position as you are. There is quite a robust set of motivational quotes existing within this industry, and we are sure that some of these can definitely bring your power back to life. In this article, we’ve cultivated a list of thought-provoking quotes that can instantly get your creative juices flowing.
1) “Never fall in love with an idea. They’re whores: if the one you’re with isn’t doing the job, there’s always, always, always another.” – Chip Kidd
Image source: AZ Quotes
Chip Kidd comes first because of the innate nature of his showman qualities and unconventionality. We love his inspirational speeches, and his quotes tend to stay deep in designers’ hearts for long. The meaning of his quote is quite explanatory in itself, but what’s truly worth taking from it is that ideas will keep flowing infinitely. If these ideas don’t end up working, there is no point in sticking to them too hard for too long. Compelling quotes are those that often entertain and educate at the same time, and this one is a prime example of that.
2) “You have to fail in order to make the next discovery. It’s through mistakes that you actually can grow.” – Paula Scher
Image source: Marianaroda
One of the best ways to stand up after a failure and prepare yourself for the next design battle is to feed yourself with hope and motivation for the better and brighter future. Trust that mistakes are meant to help you grow, because believe it or not, it’s actually true. This particular quote by Paula Scher, a famous U.S.-based graphic designer, really wakes us up and makes us understand that failure is the secret to artistic success.
Paula Scher is one of the world’s most famous graphic designers. She is known for creating Citibank’s umbrella logo, where the story of how she designed it reached legendary proportions in the graphic design world, primarily because she got it right on the first try. On top of that, she also created designs for The Public Theater, The New York Times Magazine, the American Museum of Natural History, The New York City Ballet, and Herman Miller.
What Scher is saying in this quote is that there is actually a lot more than what it seems on the surface. Particularly while still young and inexperienced, when you make mistakes, you need to realize that you’re making discoveries at the same time. When you do things that seem wrongheaded, within it, you could actually be finding an unexpected way to breakthrough.
3) “There are three responses to a piece of design—yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.” – Milton Glaser
Image source: KatherinePoblotzki
Milton Glaser is the one for whom the ‘wow’ effect is approachable at hand, therefore he knows what he is talking about. More than often, the great, compelling appearance, and simplicity of his ideas blend together successfully. Glaser laid out his thought out simply, so there is no need to search for a deeper meaning in this quote.
Did you know that Milton Glaser is the proud father of ‘I ♥ New York’ logo, the DC Comics bullet, and the iconic Bob Dylan poster? He is also the co-founder of the New York magazine, the founder of Push Pin Studios, and Milton Glaser Inc., so he is definitely one of the best role models to look up to in the industry.
Glaser has played such an important role within design culture and has had a massive impact on the disciplines of illustration and corporate design. For this reason, it is refreshing to hear the golden thoughts and approach towards the design profession from the man himself. Some other of this popular quotes include:
- “Solving any problem is more important than being right.”
- “Certainty is a closing of the mind. To create something new you must have doubt.”
- “To design is to communicate clearly by whatever means you can control or master.”
4) “I’ve never had a problem with a dumb client. There’s no such thing as a bad client. Part of our job is to do good work and get the client to accept it.” – Bob Gill
Image source: Apartamentomagazine
Next up on our list of quotes is one by Bob Gill. His early work included illustrations for Esquire, Architectural Forum, Fortune, Seventeen, and The Nation. In 1955, he won a New York Art Directors Gold Medal for a CBS television title, and in 1960, he moved to London to work for Charles Hobson, a London advertising agency and formed Fletcher / Forbes / Gill (a forerunner of Pentagram). The trio’s book titled Graphic design: Visual Comparisons, sold more than 100,000 copies. Gill has resigned from the partnership since 1967 and today, his works include teaching, writing children’s books and film-making.
In order to keep focused and passionate about your work, you not only need to have a great level of creativity regularly, you also need to equally equip yourself with a good approach towards your customers. This is exactly what Gill was trying to underline with his famous quote.
Having good relations with clients is a critical part of designers’ work as these are the people that you have to constantly be in contact with. If graphic design is how you make your living, customer’s viewpoint will therefore play an essential role as they will need to feel satisfied with the works that you create for them.
5) “I strive for two things in design: simplicity and clarity. Great design is born of those two things.” – Lindon Leader
Image source: ebaqdesign
The greatest living negative space genius has something to say about the design approach itself. A good piece of the logo not only has to be creative. Foremost, it needs to represent simplicity and clarity. Lindon Leader created the FedEx logo – the best embodiment of simplicity – so be sure that his nuggets of wisdom are regularly put into practice. We share the quotations about design and creativity that stuck throughout designers’ careers because they were the essence of their careers. The Leader’s FedEx project became a timeless classic in the world of graphic design. He’s a designer who really understood the importance of those two cornerstone factors.
6) “Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” – Salvador Dali
Image source: AZ Quotes
This is a good one. A contemporary painter, although exceptionally hard-working and prolific in creative visual ideas, had no illusions. Perfection is there, but it belongs to deity rather than humans. So, as Chip Kidd says ‘Do it because you love it’. If you are spending too much time and effort searching for perfection in design, you will actually spend more energy in looking for it than creating.
7) “The public is more familiar with bad design than good design. It is, in effect, conditioned to prefer bad design, because that is what it lives with. The new becomes threatening, the old reassuring.” – Paul Rand
Image source: Paul Rand
Now it’s time to break the ice and crack-in with the less glamorous side of graphic design. Yes, if you are an ambitious designer, making average graphics just because a customer prefers one can make you feel sad and discouraged. Whether you are a designer, a small business owner, or simply someone who wishes to design their own logo, as soon as you dive into graphic design, you begin to see what your objective is. You start to picture the visual result that you dream of.
It may be pretty disheartening to discover that mediocre tendencies, in some circumstances, will win over the market. However, in order to be great, you must strive out of the conventional ways. You need to be different, be willing to get out of your comfort zone and take risks to bring something new. As Paul Rand develops his thought:
“Even if it is true that the average man seems most comfortable with the commonplace and familiar, it is equally true that catering to bad taste, which we so readily attribute to the average reader, merely perpetuates that mediocrity and denies the reader one of the most easily accessible means for esthetic development and eventual enjoyment.”
Even after his death in 1996, Paul Rand remains one of the most famous graphic designers in the world.
Some other good, old, golden rules conceived by him are:
- ‘The principal role of a logo is to identify, and simplicity is its mean. Its effectiveness depends on distinctiveness, visibility, adaptability, memorability, universality, timelessness, and simplicity.’ (This quote came up as Paul Rand’s test for good graphic designs.)
- ‘Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that’s why it is so complicated.’
- ‘Don’t try to be original; just try to be good.’
- ‘The artist is a collector of things imaginary or real. He accumulates things with the same enthusiasm that a little boy stuffs his pockets. The scrap heap and the museum are embraced with equal curiosity. He takes snapshots, makes notes and records impressions on tablecloths or newspapers, on backs of envelopes or matchbooks. Why one thing and not another is part of the mystery, but he is omnivorous.’
- ‘Visual communications of any kind, whether persuasive or informative, from billboards to birth announcements, should be seen as the embodiment of form and function: the integration of the beautiful and the useful.’
8) “Don’t worry about people stealing your design work. Worry about the day they stop.” – Jeffrey Zeldman
Image source: Pinterest
Jeffrey Zeldman is an entrepreneur, web designer, author, and speaker on web design. He is the co-founder of A List Apart Magazine and the Web Standards Project. He founded the design studios Happy Cog and studio.zeldman, and co-founded the A Book Apart imprint and the design conference An Event Apart. This amusing quote by Zeldman himself is one to remember. His optimistic approach towards design assures that you are protected from everything that’s negative in the world of creatives.
Keep in mind that imitation is the best form of flattery, and there’s a fine line between ‘looking for inspiration’ and simply copying someone else’s ideas. At first, this commonly shared experience is considered to be a nightmare for many designers. However, not until they come across Zeldman’s quote! Artists in every field will continue to search for interesting sources. Instead of worrying about it, you should channel that energy positively.
Instead of taking offense in that matter, designers should celebrate those minor thefts as small victories. This means that your design is so good that people want to apply it to their own work as well, and this is definitely something you can be proud of. Your work has not only made an impact on your clients and presumably their customers, but on your own competitors as well.
Overall, we hope that our selected graphic design quotes could be of help and inspiration to anyone who is currently struggling. Any career is not without its challenges, however, finding great quotes that your favorite role models within the graphic design field preach can be an effective source of motivation and encouragement. Whenever you’re at a low, think of these quotes, reflect on them, and use them to fuel your passion for design once again!
Besides having grown up in the design Industry, Christiaan has advised some of the world’s largest companies on their branding & packaging designs. Has been the resident judge for design awards, and has spoken at numerous global design & marketing events. Christiaan founded the London office of the award-winning Cartils agency, and has founded the DesignBro.com platform.