We all need a bit of inspiration from time to time. Who doesn’t? Especially when it comes to design, it's often a special and essential ingredient.
The great thing is that inspiration comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Our team here at Vectornator loves to dive into Dribbble or spend countless hours scrolling away on Instagram. Surprisingly, one amazing source for inspiration is directly from people who have already done what you wish to do. What does that mean and where is this magical source.
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Well, the answer is design quotes!
Wouldn’t it be great to get advice from someone who has “Been There, Done That.” Sadly, we can’t always have that level of expertise on command. Although, that would make all of our lives so much easier…(get on it Tech Companies). That’s why reading amazing design quotes from those who already know the struggle can be reassuring and helpful.
As your Knight in Shining Armor, we here at Vectornator have compiled a list of the 15 most inspiring design quotes that will help you overcome creativity roadblocks!
1. "When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty but when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong." - R.Buckminster Fuller
We begin our collection with this famous design quote from R. Buckminster Fuller. The renowned designer and architect is perhaps best known for popularizing the geodesic dome.
With this quote, he is really able to capture the essence of the fact that design’s problem-solving ability and it’s beauty go hand-in-hand. I would add that the guy went to Harvard, so he knows what he’s talking about. But, unfortunately he was expelled. Twice.
But, that didn’t stop Fuller from creating the Fuller Dome, The Montreal Biosphere, Dymaxion Car, and Dymaxion Home! Now, don’t let yourself be stopped by the dilemma to make something beautiful or useful. Make it both!
2. "There are 3 responses to a piece of design - yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for." - Milton Glaser
Milton Glaser is loved by many. He is a very accomplished graphic designer and cofounder of New York magazine. I bet you’ve seen his work. His most iconic designs include the DC Comics logo and the unmissable I ❤️ New York logo.
Hopefully this design quote inspires you to create designs that amaze your audience. Milton Glaser wants people to aspire not just to meet other's expectations — but to exceed them.
As a designer, is there really a better feeling than charming people with your work? I doubt it. Milton Glaser doubted it too.
3. "You can have an art experience in front of a Rembrandt ... or in front of a piece of graphic design." - Stefan Sagmeister
Stefan Sagmeister is the cofounder of design agency Sagmeister & Walsh and is best known for his work in the Music Industry designing covers for Rolling Stones, Lou Reed and even Jay Z.
Aside from inspiration, this design quote also turns on the pressure.
What Stefan is saying is that having an artistic experience doesn’t have to be limited to just the most elite art works the world has ever seen. A piece of graphic design can also provide artistic value. We hope you think about that the next time you design something. Your graphic design creation allows people to have the same experience as a Rembrandt. Now, go make something great! 💪
4. "If no one hates it, no one really loves it" - Jessica Walsh
Jessica Walsh is the cofounder of design agency Sagmeister & Walsh alongside the previously mentioned Stefan Sagmeister. She has done amazing work for Levi’s, Adobe and Print Magazine.
There are a lot of reasons to love this design quote. Jessica Walsh implies that if you want to create designs that evoke great emotions, expect both sides.
It’s okay to get criticized or have your designs hated. Attracting that level of emotion is also a sign of great work. It’s also comforting to know that there will also be people who love it. Don’t shy away from being bold, even if you may upset some people!
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5. "Thinking about design is hard, but not thinking about it can be disastrous" - Ralph Caplan
Ralph Caplan is an influential design writer, design consultant and public-speaker who has been moving the needle forward for many years. He was the editor-in-chief of the successful I.D Magazine and is the Director Emeritus of the International Design Conference.
This design quote reveals just how important design is. Bad design is enough to destroy an idea, a product or even a whole company. That is the significance of it.
Even if it’s challenging thinking about, it can not and should not be overlooked. This quote really makes you think about not being afraid of asking and answering the tough questions. This is especially true when it comes to design because sooner or later it will have an impact. It’s up to you to make sure it’s a positive one.
6. "Good design is good business" - Thomas Watson Jr.
Thomas Watson Jr. was the 2nd company president of IBM after taking over from his father. He was also referred to as the “greatest capitalist in history” by FORTUNE Magazine. With that level of honor of distinction, be sure to take this advice on design seriously.
This design quote cuts right through some stereotypes of design. Other famous quotes about design, especially graphic design quotes, tend to emphasize how important design is from an artistic lense. The idea is that the aesthetic value is the most important factor.
On the flip side, businesses can often neglect the value of design. But this design quote sheds light on the fact that good design leads to good business. It’s a very strategic relationship between these two domains. So, next time you design, also think about it from this point of view.
7. "It`s a very strange thing for a designer to say, but one of the things that really irritates me is when I`m aware of designers wagging their tails in my face" - Sir Jony Ive
Sir Jony Ive is credited with helping make Apple what it is today. His product design work for devices across the spectrum ranging from the iPod to Macbook Pro to iMac revolutionized the industry. Read more about this design icon in our article here.
This idea could be a bit confusing at first. Wouldn’t the work be noticed anyway? What this design quote is trying to convey is that good design lies in simplicity. Designers should not complicate their work with unnecessary elements but maximize straight-forwardness. The best designs, particularly in UI, just come naturally without you even thinking of the designer’s input. If you would like to know more about such designs, check out our design trends or UI design tips guides.
8. "An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail" - Dr. Edwin Land
This is (perhaps) the most important design quote among the ones listed here. Get over your fears. Creativity and uncertainty are like bread and butter. You never know what will work and what won’t. Rather than letting your fears stop you, try to make yourself free of those burdens.
This design quote illustrates that being afraid to fail is only going to stop you from making the leap towards making great designs. Use these websites to help you get over that fear and take your designs to the next level.
Dr. Edwin Land was an American scientist and inventor who went on to form the Polaroid Corporation along with its iconic instant cameras.
9. "I strive for two things in design: simplicity and clarity. Great design is born of those two things." - Lindon Leader
Lindon Leader is the iconic graphic design mind behind some of the world’s most well known logos. FedEx, Imaginova and Meridian all are his creations.
This design quote highlights that the best aspect about design shouldn’t be how sophisticated it is. Instead, design should be simple and clear. That’s it. Just those 2 fundamental principles. It’s really all you need when designing.
This design philosophy had led to the creation of many great logos and products. Many other design quotes also reflect this concept. It’s really not the ability to add more and more to a design, but rather to take away until you can’t any longer. This design process leaves you with the most simple and clear design.
10. "It's not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works." - Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs was the co-founder of Apple and has had a very direct impact on all of our lives in terms of design.
This design quote shows the true paradigm shift that Jobs brought within Apple. In most companies, design is secondary. It’s merely the “skin” for products and ideas.
But, at Apple, things were different. Very different. There was a shift in thinking. Design was an all-encompassing tool. It was everything from form to function. This design quote will help you realize just how vital design is as a tool for businesses and organizations.
11. “Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that's why it is so complicated.” - Paul Rand
Paul Rand is one of the most famous company logo designers of last century. He designed logos for worldwide-known brands like Ford, IBM, Enron and many more.
Paul Rand says that even though the design is incredibly complex, it should always look and feel simple to the end-user or a viewer.
Design can be a form of art, something whole and complete. Or it could be subtle and subjective — aesthetics. Getting it right, both the bigger picture and the tiny details, is incredibly important.
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12. “It’s through mistakes that you actually can grow. You have to get bad in order to get good.” - Paula Scher
Paula Scher who is one of the most influential graphic designers in the world highlights in her quote how important failure is. Especially, young designers who are struggling should realize how mistakes can improve their design work.
13. “The details are not the details. They make the design.” - Charles Eames
Charles Eames was an iconic American designer and architect. In this quote, he says that the details shouldn't be ignored. Instead, the design details should be seen as the fundament of the whole building.
14. “Graphic design will save the world right after rock and roll does.” - David Carson
David Carson might be the most known Rock and Roll art director in the world, designing the covers of the popular Ray Gun Magazine. In his quotes he shares both of his passions: Rock `n` Roll and graphic design.
15. “Good design is all about making other designers feel like idiots because that idea wasn’t theirs.” - Frank Chimero
In this funny quote, Frank Chimero encourages designers to always try their best at their work and be competitive when it comes to design ideas. Chimero and his work got featured in NY Times, Time Magazine and serval popular newspapers.
That brings our list of inspiring quotes to a close. Let us know what you thought of these quotes and which ones you would have liked us to include!
And if you're feeling inspired to start your own journey into graphic design, give Vectornator a try today!
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Take your designs to the next level.
Emma is a Content Writer for Linearity in Berlin. Her hobbies include making ceramics, roller skating, drawing, and 2D animation.