“Allowing influences into your work is one of the ways that you expand your expressive range. Designers enrich their work — not diminish it — by looking for ways to ‘incorporate’ new and radical modes of expression into their work, especially from places outside contemporary design. Shutting out influences because of an obsession with ‘originality’ is a trap. But you have to be able to acknowledge the debt to your sources. Copyists never own up to it; the talented always do. That’s the difference.”
—Adrian Shaughnessy, How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul
“I don’t believe in originality as an absolute, I think it’s more to do with interesting twists on existing forms. Borrowing from the Modernist designers of the recent past, for instance, is not plagiarism; it’s more a continuation of the processes and ideas that they set in motion. I’m influenced by Polish poster art of the 1960’s, which was influenced by Pop Art and Surrealism, and which in turn appropriated commercial art, comic book art, cinema and Victorian engravings, etc. I think the key to whether it’s good or not lies in the viewer’s response to a piece of design. Do they say “I’ve seen it before” or, “I’ve seen it before but not in that way.”
“Most designers are untroubled by the notion of originality, but others are obsessed with it, and I see many problems caused by the delusional quest for originality. In my view originality is an overrated and misunderstood quality in contemporary graphic design. Copying is bad, no question. Infringing someone’s copyright for personal gain is immoral, not to mention illegal in most countries. But the only people who copy are the terminally second-rate and the downright dishonest, whereas the good designer freely borrows and adapts from sources in precisely the way artists have done for centuries. And furthermore, the good designer readily admits to this ‘appropriation.’ It is a quality of many good designers that their influences and sources are clearly visible and readily acknowledged.”
—Adrian Shaughnessy, How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul
“Typography is known as an invisible art, because if a typographer has done a good job and produced a page that flows and is ‘easy on the eye’, he has done his job and the reader doesn’t notice. A page that is badly designed will be difficult and irritating to read. Whether you are reading in the office for work, or at home for pleasure, and no matter how interesting the actual content , if a book is uncomfortable on the eye then the enjoyment of reading is spoiled.”
—Jim Williams, Type Matters!
“The grid system is an aid, not a guarantee. It permits a number of possible uses and each designer can look for a solution appropriate to his personal style. But one must learn how to use the grid; it is an art that requires practice.”
“I still reserve the right, at any time, to doubt the solutions furnished by the Modular, keeping intact my freedom, which must depend on my feelings rather than my reason.”
— Le Corbusier
“The graphic design process—the search for visual concepts—has been compared to the running of a maze. In both cases the solution remains mysterious until the end of the exercise. From an established starting position, the designer works out a logical plan and follows it only to be turned back by the constraints encountered along the way. As in a maze, the designer continues the exploration through further applications of logic, some intuitive guesswork, and a certain amount of trial and error until the problem is solved.”
—Allen Hurlburt, The Design Concept
“Throughout this century, there has been first a gradual and then an accelerated movement of communication patterns until today the public is virtually bombarded by printed and projected images until most of them become blurred andmeaningless. This burden of visual ideas places new demands on the designer for more knowledge and for a greater involvement in the planning and problem-solving aspects of communication. Whether he likes it or not, the contemporary art director must be at ease with editorial thinking, advertising objectives, market strategy, human response, and social responsibility—if his layouts are to move from the egocentric boundaries of the drawing board to the excitement of the printed page.”
-Allen Hurlburt, Layout: The Design of the Printed Page
“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it.”
“There is no design without discipline. There is no discipline without intelligence. 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.”
“…cultural awareness (you can call it research, if you like, but it’s really something larger) ranks higher than technical ability and academic qualifications in the designer’s portfolio of attributes. When the British writer lain Sinclair was asked if he did research for his books, he replied that his whole life was research. I can’t think of a better adage for the modern graphic designer. Without constantly scanning, scrutinizing and absorbing what goes on around you, you cannot become a successful designer.”
-Adrian Shaughnessy, How to be a Graphic Designer, Without Losing Your Soul
Want some simply gorgeous random color scheme inspiration? This is the script for you!
I’m working on a new ebook about color combinations to be released later this year. Part of the work for that book entails some very cool Photoshop and Illustrator scripting. One of the scripts, the intriguing one I’m sharing with you today, takes four random colors and creates a stunningly beautiful gradient from them.
The smart way to run a web design business is simple: copy the plan that someone else used successfully to run a web design business and stick to it.
That is it.
Many of you know I’ve moved on from running my own web design business. I’m off in different directions including a lot of writing and programming. However, many visitors to my blog, like you, might be trying to start a web design business or are already up and running, but are short in the what-do-I-do-about-this-or-that department. So now what do you do?
A small milestone for our humble little blog. I just noticed crossed a million page views a couple weeks ago. since launching at the end of 2009. Our most popular posts remain those focused on typography. The Big Book of Font Combinations and the Font Combinations app continue to grow in popularity as more people discover us.
While a million page views is nothing compared to other graphic design blogs, it’s a lot for us considering how we’ve successfully carved out such a small niche. Remember, broad numbers don’t count nearly as much as a narrow, targeted audience. Big, focused numbers in your narrow target audience mean everything! And that’s what we’ve done and will continue to do: reach graphic designers and other casual typeface enthusiasts with particular typographic needs!
What’s next? Let’s get to 2 million twice as fast :). With some cool things coming up in 2012 we can do it! Thanks for stopping by!
The Mac OS App Store has more and more to offer graphic designers looking for productivity software for their Mac. However, that means there is more and more to wade through to find the good stuff, just like when looking for iPhone apps. But hold on! We did the hard work and research and found a combination of the highest-rated but also most useful apps for graphic designers!
Many of you know of what secret skill I’m referring to. I’m talking about graphic designers who write great copy, but keep their writing chops hidden in plain sight. Why do they do this?
What is the main reason a graphic design fails miserably? It’s quite simple: you played with graphic content before you worked out your message.