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#Art & Design

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Content Creators

#Art & Design

19 Graphic Design Quotes to Ignite Your Creative Spirit

October 22, 2020
9 MINUTES
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Danica Popovic

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Looking for an inspirational graphic design quote to put over your desk? Look no further than these timeless thoughts by some famous creatives.

Steve Jobs famously said that design isn’t just what something looks and feels like, but also how it works. This quote perfectly captures the complexity of good design and how challenging and fascinating a designer’s job can be!

This year more than ever, we all seem to need the occasional pep talk or motivational message. So to help you find design inspiration and the motivation to create something extraordinary, we’ve compiled a list of inspirational quotes from famous graphic designers to help boost your creativity and motivate you to do good work!

Milton Glaser

Milton Glaser was a New York designer, whose design work includes the famous I love New York logo, as well as the psychedelic album covers for artists like Bob Dylan and Aretha Franklin.

This amazing quote is a great reminder that as a graphic designer, you shouldn’t just get the job done, but also try to inspire and surprise clients with amazing, original design. The wow effect shouldn’t be a welcome surprise; instead, it should be the main goal of any piece of design you produce. Don’t aim for mediocrity, aim for ‘wow’!

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Paula Scher

Scher is the first female principal of the world-renowned New York design consultancy Pentagram and has a vast portfolio of design work including the Windows 8 logo.

Paula Scher also has a rich experience as an educator; she has taught in the School of Visual Arts (SVA) since 1992. It’s no surprise then, her famous graphic design quote is related to learning from your mistakes. It’s an important reminder for almost any creative, and not just graphic designers.

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Paul Rand

This famous art director is best known for corporate design, including some of the iconic corporate logo designs including IBM, UPS and ABC.

It’s no surprise then, that some of his most famous graphic design quotes relate to the art of simplicity. Simplicity is one of the key principles of good design, so it’s worth reminding ourselves that the simplest and best design work is a product of hard work. It’s similar to what Antoine de Saint Exupéry, the famous French writer said, the perfect design is achieved when there is nothing left to take away!

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Massimo Vignelli

This famous designer completed a huge range of different projects, from kitchenware to the New York City subway map.

Although he was a follower of the modernist school and developed many designs that were both visually appealing and practical, this famous quote is a nice reminder that beauty in design is important. Of course, an aesthetic appeal per se is usually not enough, but if you can make something look better, it’s your obligation as a designer to do so!

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Charles Eames

Charles Eames is an American designer that worked closely with his wife Bernice Alexandra “Ray” Kaiser Eames in the field of industrial design. They made a significant contribution to the development of contemporary architecture and furniture design.

This great quote perfectly sums up the relationship between a client and a great graphic designer. Before you even start developing your own ideas, you must fully understand your client and their needs.

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David Carson

Art director and surfer, David Carson is also the “rule-breaker” in the world of graphic design, and the pioneer of grunge typography that you can see on so many posters and magazine covers today.

Unsurprisingly, an inspirational quote from this design legend is equally cool. Sure, it may seem random at first, but there is a real grain of truth in this bold statement. Rock and roll became so widely popular because it tapped into the universal human experience: being young, angry, in love, etc. Carson is saying that great design has the potential to do the same, to unite people through their common experiences in a visual way.

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Frank Chimero

Who’s to say that young, contemporary designers can’t be quoted! Chimero is just 35 years old and has already had a list of impressive clients including Microsoft, Facebook and Starbucks.

Since he designed the Windows Media Player interface at 17, this designer definitely earned his bragging rights. But making other designers feel like idiots isn’t really about being unnecessarily smug. Frank Chimero’s quote actually refers to the simplicity of good design. Creating a piece of design that’s both effective and incredibly simple is the real challenge; and that will make other designers feel like idiots for not seeing what was right in front of them.

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Chip Kidd

Chip Kidd is a designer that specializes in book cover art, and he has designed some awe-inspiring book covers for both classics and new writing.

Naturally, someone who has been so successful in commercial design is a great source of practical advice. This graphic design quote is yet another reminder that research and understanding your clients’ needs are often half the job done.

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Bob Gill

Bob Gill is a famous illustrator, graphic designer, educator, filmmaker and co-founder of Pentagram. He has over 50 years of experience in the industry and many notable design projects.

This quote is perhaps the most useful and applicable one to anyone working as a professional graphic designer. Good communication is one of the key skills for graphic designers, whether this means guiding your clients to give you a better design brief, or getting them to see why a certain piece of design works. In a way, it’s the same thing that Mr Miyagi says to Daniel in the 1980s classic Karate Kid: “There’s no such thing as a bad client, just bad designer.”

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Joe Sparano

Sparano is a graphic designer and educator teaching at the School of Art and Design at the University of Washington and Charles Wright Academy.

There is a great number of memorable graphic design quotes about what great design is and isn’t. But I think few manage to put it in such a tangible context as Joe Sparano does. The absence of content makes design decorative rather than purposeful.

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Stefan Sagmeister

This Austrian designer is known for his experimental and edgy designs, notably for many famous album covers. He is the co-founder of Sagmeister & Walsh, a design firm he started with another famous graphic designer, Jessica Walsh.

Design is art with a certain agenda, but that doesn’t mean that the art experience is any less powerful. Sagmeister said it better than anyone perhaps, when he compared the experience of standing in front of a Rembrandt to standing in front of a piece of graphic design. Great design can be an equally reflective and transformative experience.

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Petrula Vrontikis

Another contemporary designer, Petrula Vrontikis is the creative director of Vrontikis Design in Los Angeles and a senior lecturer at Art Center College of Design.

As a renowned educator, Vrontikis delivers a very important message with a touch of humor. But her message goes much deeper than the sly joke. Safe design in this case doesn’t refer to unoriginal, boring design. Instead, it helps to remind us that it’s much easier to produce good work when you have a concept and plan in mind, rather than trying to patch up bad work when it’s too late.

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Michael Bierut

His portfolio includes some famous logo designs, including the modern redesign of the Mastercard logo and Hilary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign logo. Beirut is a believer in the democratization of design, which is making design digestible and accessible to an ordinary viewer.

Naturally, the democratization of design also requires designers to be versatile and adaptable. This is an important lesson that can translate to anything from following design trends to extensive research of your clients’ niche!

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Neville Brody

This English designer, typographer and art director is best known for his work in magazines The Face and Arena, and several famous album covers.

His famous quote on digital design is a wonderful depiction of the changing nature of this type of design. This is an especially useful reminder to designers working with innovative startups that in the world of digital design, the work is hardly ever done, and there’s always room for improvement and touch-ups.

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Jeffrey Zeldman

Since we’re on the topic, it’s only fair to quote a famous web designer like Jeffrey Zeldman. It’s another useful reminder on how to recognize bad design. Instead of worrying about people stealing your great ideas, just get on with the good work. And if it looks like no one is interested in what you’re doing, perhaps it’s time to change things!

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Marian Bantjes

This Canadian designer is known for her very intricate and decorative style of visuals and typography. She has worked for both Pentagram and Sagmeister & Walsh.

When you have a style that’s as unique and personal as Marian Bantjes’, you have to appreciate the value of personality in outstanding design. Ultimately, while the designer works for the client they also work with the client. Take ownership of your design projects as something you want to see succeed, and the results just might turn out to be amazing!

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Lindon Leader

If you don’t recognize the name, then you’ll certainly recognize one of the most famous and most intelligent logo designs that Lindon Leader created: the FedEx logo.

FedEx logo ticks many boxes: color, typography, use of negative space, memorability… So it’s only logical that the graphic design quote from the creative mind who came up with it, tackles the two paramount principles of design. Clarity and simplicity, honestly you can never stress it enough!

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Robert L. Peters

This is definitely the perfect graphic design quote to finish off our list. If you’re stuck in a rut, feeling creating what feels like the same design over and over again, remember Peters’ words. What we may consider a design trend at present, might become a definitive shift in our culture; in the way we view and understand things visually. And since culture shapes values, working as a designer can truly mean changing the world for the better!

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Danica Popovic

October 22, 2020

Having lived and studied in London and Berlin, I'm back in native Serbia, working remotely and writing short stories and plays in my free time. With previous experience in the nonprofit sector, I'm currently writing about the universal language of good graphic design. I make mix CDs and my playlists are almost exclusively 1960s.