For many creative people, the calling of being a graphic designer is too tempting not to answer. And why wouldn't it be? The opportunity to let your creative juices flow as you create art is perhaps one of the most calming yet exciting career choices to steer toward. While many who contemplate careers as graphic artists see the alluring attraction to it, there is a side to being a graphic designer that is well - lonely. Even the most famous graphic designers can attest to this facet of the profession. The good news is, there have been many who have dedicated their lives to the graphic arts work and have found a way to steer clear of the loneliness and isolation it sometimes comes with. Let’s explore the lives of the iconic few who have walked the path of graphic designing to get a sense of how to find to balance when it comes to working creatively and not losing yourself in the process.
In our list, you will find that we have compiled ten of our favorite inspirational quotes from famous graphic designers. You can look forward to hearing the thoughts of some of the best in the field of creative inspiration design. From famous female graphic designers to famous logo designers, read on to see how Chip Kidd, Massimo Vignelli, Milton Glaser, Marian Bantjes, and other famous graphic designers have managed to find their strengths in this line of work. In addition to that, we are going to look at how these graphic designers and artists have been able to keep themselves focused on their graphic arts work without succumbing to the isolation.
But before we explore these quotes, we must first cover our bases. Whether you are familiar with the profession or not, here is a quick snapshot of what it means to work in the line of graphic design.
What Are the Skills of Graphic Designers?
Most of you probably have an idea of what constitutes graphic design if you clicked on this article. If you were to search up the term online, you will likely find this definition offered by Wikipedia: "the process of visual communication and problem-solving using one or more of typography, photography, and illustration." While this definition somewhat sums up this profession, there is a certain skill set that one must have in order to be a successful graphic designer. Being a creative individual is only part of the equation. In addition, the following skills are imperative to be a great graphic artist.
For many graphic designers, this line of work is a process. Any graphic artist will tell you that it is not an innate talent, not a school of thought, not an achievement--it's something you practice. Anyone can claim the title of being a graphics or design artist, but you have to work your way through the profession to really find success the way many iconic graphic artists have. In that process, you have to be willing to commit your time and effort so that you can truly grasp onto your inspiration, your niche, and bring it to life. And part of that also means paying attention to design trends and modern design so that your work is relevant no matter what it may be.
Communication is what makes the world go round. Without communication, society would simply cease to operate. The beauty of being a graphic designer is the fact that you have the unique ability to communicate with a wide audience simply with your art. Whether it be movie cover designs, album covers, having to design book covers or book jackets, or even a packaging design, when you create art, your main objective is to communicate without speaking.
While you might think of communication as an auditory process, the visual elements are just as important, arguably more so. Signs, symbols, diagrams, and maps make up crucial parts of our world (imagine driving without street signs!) and these are all products of graphic designers. Visual communication can reach far beyond the literal or directly representational field of street signs, however. Graphic design can be used to communicate tone, mood, and sentiment. Take, for example, musical album covers. A graphic designer has put countless hours into figuring out the right way to communicate the voice of that musical artist on the cover design.
While communicating visually makes up half of the equation, problem-solving makes up the other. Often graphic design projects do not start ex nihilo; there's usually a project that a given piece is being graphically designed for. Graphic design thus relies on problem-solving to bridge the gap between the vision in the graphic designer's head and the practical concerns of the project. This is especially true when working on things such as book jackets and music albums. When you work with a client, you will want to make sure that your design inspiration matches the vision of the client. This means that your illustrations reflect the message that your client wants to portray. This visual language is what makes the profession such a tricky one. Graphic design is a process that uses both hemispheres of the brain--both cold logic and artistic intuition. This, in turn, means that it provides some of the best benefits for working out your mind.
Typography, Photography and Illustration
There are three main methods by which a project is created by a graphic design artist. These three main methods include typography (or typeface), photography and illustrations. Graphically designed typography, photography, and illustration can be combined in an infinite number of ways to meet the needs of a vast variety of projects. When these three elements are used, this is how the visual language that is so imperative to design inspiration is communicated in the world of graphic arts.
The type of elements used really depends on the project that you are working on. An artist who is primarily a web designer will typically focus on elements such as photographs and illustrations. Their work may or may not be centered around typography and typeface. Using the right kind of elements is what allows you to become a web designer pro who can pull in hundreds and thousands thanks to the visual language you create.
When it comes time for an artist or art director to try and convince or appeal to an audience, typography is one of the most favored elements. Typography is what fuels an art director when they are trying to design book covers, book sleeves, album covers, and packaging design. Typography is especially important when an artist or art director is working with corporate identity design. Corporate logos are the center of a brand or company. Being able to create a visual language with corporate logos is something that graphic designers are able to pull off thanks to typography.
Who Are the Most Famous Graphic Designers?
One of the best ways to get graphic design inspiration is by looking at that iconic greats. We have listed below for you the iconic few who have really laid the path of what success looks like. Read on to get a glimpse of the inspiration that allowed them to persevere and become the iconic legends that they are. You will also notice, that all of the work that we have noted is work that has made a name for itself in the creative world. The artists behind that work, however, do not all share the same celebrity. For many creative works of art (such as that of Banksy), the artist prefers to be anonymous as that is how they are able to preserve their happiness. All of the work is famous, but not all are acknowledged or known famous graphic designers.
With that being said, each of the ten graphic designers we quoted is worth knowing in their own right. We have included some biographical details to help you understand both the designers' perspectives and where you can search for more of their work. Some designers, like Chip Kidd and Marian Bantjes, have Ted Talks online that are absolutely worth seeking out if you're itching for more inspiration from iconic graphic designers.
10 Inspirational Quotes from Famous Graphic Designers
"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 is a renowned book cover designer. You can easily recognize his most iconic covers, including Jurassic Park, No Country for Old Men, and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. His rise to fame was not an easy one. Before he got a big break working in high profile book covers, he used to freelance by designing book jackets and worked on nearly 70 book covers in one year. His modern style and vision is something that is reflected in all his work as he is able to perfectly connect his art with a brand’s corporate identity.
2. Michael Bierut
"If you do good work for good clients, it will lead to other good work for other good clients. If you do bad work for bad clients, it will lead to other bad work for other bad clients."
Michael Bierut is a graphic designer, educator in the field of design, and a long term partner at the Pentagram Art & Design Firm. This is the same firm that happens to be the world's largest independent design consultancy. Some of his clients include the New York Times, Mastercard, and even Bobby Flay. He was also the mastermind behind designing Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential logo. His persistence and dedication to the profession are what has allowed him to thrive in it.
3. Massimo Vignelli
"The life of a designer is a life of fight. Fight against the ugliness. Just like a doctor fights against disease. For us, the visual disease is what we have around, and what we try to do is cure it somehow with design."
This next graphic designer is one who found success in packaging design using typography and typeface. This Italian designer worked his way through the industry and began with everything from houseware design to furniture design to public signage. If you've ever seen the big brown bags that declare they are a "Big Brown Bag" on the side, or the classic 1970s style subway map, you have Massimo Vignelli to thank. His style has defined much of what we call "modernistic" design. His ability to find his niche by bringing beauty to everyday design is what has allowed Vignelli to find his success.
4. Kate Moross
"I don't think about things in terms of influence. I'm not at school any more."
Kate Moross does visual design work for concerts and is responsible for the creatively designed bus/tube pass holders for London. In an interview, she went on to say that she gets most of her ideas from "everyday life- going to the shop or interacting with the bus driver or seeing something by accident. I'm not one for organized culture or anything like that, so I do try to let things happen naturally." If you have this type of “organic” approach to your artwork as a graphic designer, then Kate Moross is certainly a designer to follow.
5. Saul Bass
"I want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares, as opposed to ugly things. That's my intent."
This next name in the field is one who has been making a name for himself in the film industry as well. Saul Bass designed the posters for The Shining and Vertigo, displaying a signature cut-out style. Not only that, but he also conceptualized the logos for Kleenex, United Airways, and AT&T. His intentionality with corporate logos is what has allowed him to be an icon in the world of graphic design. Though he has passed, his work lives on and carries with it his legacy.
6. Lindon Leader
"I strive for two things in design: simplicity and clarity. Great design is born of those two things."
Not all artists are in the profession to express themselves creatively. Some artists thrive in the fact that they have a good eye for logos. Lindon Leader was one such designer. Lindon has graced the world with the iconic designs that he created for FedEx and the Hawaiian Airlines’s logos.
7. Marian Bantjes
"But I find that for myself, without exception, the more I deal with the work as something that is my own, as something that is personal, the more successful it is."
Unique typography and typeface define Marian Bantjes's work. You may have seen intricate yet still elegant looping typographic fonts on things such as throw pillows and coffee mugs. Some of this work is Bantjes, although often it is the work of epigones attempting to ape the style of this famous graphic designer. Her innovative use of typography and the specific typeface is what has allowed her to create a name for herself in the world of design.
8. Paul Rand
"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."
This may strike you as a less-than-inspirational quote, but trust us, you'll be thinking of this one when the public rejects a design you feel to be beautiful. Paul Rand has been the logo designer for ABC, IBM, and Enron. He is another example of how being able to create the visual language between a company and the audience is so important. For designers who find joy in that niche, following Rand’s way of incorporating design may be a way to go.
9. Milton Glaser
"There are three responses to a piece of design - yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for."
Milton Glaser made a career out of "wow." You may not have heard his name, but you've certainly seen his work. He created the "I <3 NY" design as well as the iconic "psychedelic" Bob Dylan poster. Many creative designers find joy in working outside the box and bringing life to creative ideas that may make you want to scratch your head at first. If thinking outside the box and seeing things differently than everyone else is your strong suit, then Glaser is certainly a designer to look up to.
10. Stefan Sagmeister
"You can have an art experience in front of Rembrandt ... or in front of a piece of graphic design."
Stefan Sagmeister is perhaps best known for designing album art for Lou Reed. This quote reminds us that great design can elevate us to the experience of great art. His ability to work with typeface on album covers has allowed him to really flourish in the world of graphic art. In addition to that, Sagmeister reminds artists everywhere that it is ok to push the status quo and challenge public perceptions of modern design. He is able to pin out current design trends, and then put his own spin on things. This is perhaps one of the things that has helped define his career as a graphic designer.
Who Might Be a Good Fit for Graphic Design?
With so many professions to choose from, everyone reaches a point where they realize that some people will excel in one profession while others will excel in another. The same can be said for graphic design. Not everyone is built for being a graphic designer. If you are entertaining the thought of being a graphic designer, or if you already are one but are wondering if you picked the right profession, then consider this list. Here are the top traits and characteristics that graphic designers are likely to display. If you display these, then you should be well on your path to being a great graphic designer.
This one is pretty obvious. But graphic designers will generally have a healthy sense of creativity. Some of the best graphic designers will often have infectious creativity. Graphic designers who have that infectious creativity will often seamlessly be able to lead others in successful projects. This ability to lead is what ultimately makes them one of the best graphic designers.
Graphic designers are often dedicated to every project they are working on. Even if it is a project that they are not interested in, they always put in hard work and effort when they are creating a design. Graphic designers take pride in all their work, and they know that it will be displayed in front of hundreds and sometimes thousands of people. The desire to put forth a project that is exceptionally designed is something that graphic designers hold near and dear to themselves.
Graphic designers will often lose the sense of time because they can get so wrapped up in a project. This will often lead to long hours in the office where they are working on getting a design done. If you have a family or do not enjoy the thought of working long hours, then this is something that you need to consider when entering the profession. Not only that, but there are plenty of designers who have actually left the profession because the hours that they work are too overwhelming.
Being a visionary
Graphic designers always have a vision in their head. When they are prompted with a project, they can bring together thoughts and ideas to create something truly beautiful. This all ties into the ability to think creatively. More importantly. Graphic designers can see the big picture and work towards it to create something remarkable.
Being able to read people
For a job that requires a lot of personal creativity and individual work, graphic designers tend to have the ability to read people. Graphic designers have the ability to ask questions and dig deep when communicating with clients. This allows them to really get to know what a client is looking for.
Almost every single successful graphic designer is willing to take risks when it comes to their work. When a graphic designer takes a risk, they are able to create something innovative and new that lets their project stand out. This ability to stand out in a crowd is what allows them to earn the title of being a great inspiration. Risk taking can be scary for some people, especially those who value a sort of repetitive structure. When it comes to being a great graphic designer, that need to take risks is something that will always be present.
Graphic design is a great example of what samurai Miyamoto Musashi called "understanding the way broadly." In his Earth Book, he argued that once you begin to expand the definitions of a practice such that you can see it in all things, you can advance in leaps and bounds both in that discipline and in others seemingly unrelated to it. We hope that this list has begun to help you see the field of graphic design broadly and that you leave equipped with a new arsenal of quotes to help keep you going when the going gets tough.