StartupWeb Design

25 Inspirational Quotes About Design

By September 17, 2013 13 Comments

There’s something to be said about learning from the wisdom of others. It’s too easy to get caught up in the day to day workings of our busy lives and fall into habits and patterns that aren’t conducive to living a creative life.

Which is crazy really since that’s why we became designers in the first place, right?

Since I’ve moved to tropical Queensland I’m an extra early riser (it’s the damned cockatoos!) and I’ll lie in bed and think about my day. Not in terms of organising my diary but in a larger sense; every morning when I first wake up I lie in bed for about 20 minutes and I think about my big goals and what I need to do to reach them. I think about the things that motivate me to do better, both in my business and in my creative life.

It’s kind of like my morning meditation but without the tunes.

I know I may seem all about the business end of design these days, but truly, art will always inspire me. And the people who create art inspire me just as much. That’s why when I’m feeling extra stressed I’ll put up beautifully designed inspirational quotes by designers around my office and in my bedroom and bathroom so I’m randomly reminded why I do what I do.

Here are some great design quotes I’ve compiled for you, and if just one inspires you today, then I’ve done my job!

  1. “Don’t worry about people stealing your design work. Worry about the day they stop.” – Jeffrey Zeldman
  2. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo Da Vinci
  3. “Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent.” – Joe Sparano
  4. “Practice safe design; Use a concept.” – Petrula Vrontikis
  5. “Design is intelligence made visible.” – Alina Wheeler
  6. “Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future.” – Robert L. Peters
  7. “The worst logo applied well is better than the best logo applied poorly.” – Jacob Cass
  8. “I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” – Pablo Picasso
  9. “Design is not the narrow application of formal skills, it is a way of thinking.” – Chris Pullman
  10. “Owning a camera doesn’t make you a photographer.” – Gabriel Von Satzger
  11. “Technology over technique produces emotionless design.” – Daniel Mall
  12. “An idea can turn to dust or magic, depending on the talent that rubs against it.” – Bill Bernbach
  13. “Design isn’t finished until somebody is using it.” – Brenda Laurel
  14. “Everything is designed. Few things are designed well.” – Brian Reed
  15. “Stop looking at yourself as a designer, and start thinking of yourself as a deliverer of ideas.” – Stle Melvr
  16. “Designing a product is designing a relationship.” – Steve Rogers
  17. “A designer is a planner with an aesthetic sense.” – Bruno Munari
  18. “Design should never say, Look at me. It should always say, Look at this.” – David Craib
  19. “Form follows function.” – Louis Sullivan
  20. “Design is where science and art break even.” – Robin Mathew
  21. “The life of a designer is a life of fight: fight against the ugliness.” – Massimo Vignelli
  22. “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  23. “There is no design without discipline. There is no discipline without intelligence.” – Massimo Vignelli
  24. “Good design is good business.” – Thomas J. Watson Jr
  25. “Don’t design for everyone. It’s impossible. All you end up doing is designing something that makes everyone unhappy.” – Leisa Reichelt


So, what motivates you to be a better designer?

I’d love to hear what gets you out of bed in the morning. Leave a message down below, I promise I read them all!

Take care, 

 Bianca Board

What do you think? Share your comments below.


Author Bianca Board

After 20 years inspiring more than 10,000 designers and small business owners to take control of their business, Bianca is now spearheading Foxley, a brand spanking new SaaS platform for designers. She is deeply passionate about helping distil the complexities of running a web design business - to make it easier for all designers to make the leap from designer to design entrepreneur. She’s a translator of web jargon, a lead generation master, a champion for small businesses and you can Google her brain for endless strategies on how to transform your business.

More posts by Bianca Board
  • Eric

    I have to say, this is one that really hit home for me:

    “The worst logo applied well is better than the best logo applied poorly.” – Jacob Cass

    Working with small business’ you do come across some real doozies! I find it a bit of a personal challenge these days, when you have a client with one of ‘these’ logos to make it work. It can be a great feeling to send something to a client and have that response of amazement when they see something that they didn’t even know what possible with their ‘logo’. I guess this is another great thing about working with small business, they seem to have a habit of getting their design work done by their brothers cousins son/daughter, so when they do go to an actual design studio to get something done, more times than not they are completely amazed. Makes for some real warm fuzzy feelings!

    Great list though, one day I will say something that is quote worthy!

    • What about when it’s that multi-coloured WordArt though? Does it still apply?

      Hey, maybe we should start a competition over on our Facebook page in honour of this quote and get designers to see how amazingly they can apply poor logos. I’ll give prizes… who’s in??

  • James

    It’s always nice to read what others have said and to put your own spin on them. My favourite quote from a designer is by Paul Rand (who also happens to be one of my favourites)

    “The roots of good design lie in aesthetics: painting, drawing, and architecture, while those of business and market research are in demographics and statistics; aesthetics and business are traditionally incompatible disciplines”.

    I think it’s a good insight into how internet has transformed the job of a designer into a combination of marketer, statistician, designer and strategist. Ideals and principles that would traditionally clash.

    • Wow, you make such good point, great insight James! That is so true, a ‘good’ designer is all those things you mentioned, a ‘mediocre’ designer is just pretty visuals in this age of the web.

      I actually found that when I focussed energy on all those other things that my design business exploded! It was a real turning point in my career. But I’d never related it back to Paul Rand’s quote and certainly never put it as eloquently as you have. Thanks so much!!

  • Liam

    I love Number 8! I think that is by far the best attitude anyone can have, that Picasso was one sharp dude.

  • Ben

    I think especially when it comes to website design, this quote stands out the most for me. “Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent.” – Joe Sparano. The main aim is to have a website that people can use, and use easily. You don’t need the visitor to say “Wow this is a great looking website” you will know that it’s great by the little notification pop-up saying that they have just bought something from your website.

    • Couldn’t agree more with you Ben, well said and so relevant for web. I guess as a browser, you never realise yourself when you have a really good experience on a website, but you always notice when you have a really bad one because you back right out in pure frustration!

      You make a really good point about conversions. That’s ultimately what every designer should want for their clients. 😉

  • “Stop looking at yourself as a designer, and start thinking of yourself as a deliverer of ideas.”

    This one reminds me of a conversation of had with a client once I made his website which sold beauty products. I made this thing from scratch and had a HEAVY sales approach in both its copy and imagery.

    The client looked over the site… hummed and muttered his way through it…. then he turned to me and said “I see what you doing here… you’re playing on my customers fears of how ugly they are to sell my products to them!”

    To that I simply replied… “I like to think of it as selling dreams to them.”

    The stoney faced client kinda of snorted like I just insulted the integrity of his customers. Still got a bonus from him though.

    So here ya go Bianca… here’s number 26 for you:

    “Why be a delivery of cheap beauty products, when you can be a deliverer of dreams?” – The Wingey Pom.

    • Bahahaha that’s hilarious! But oh so powerful…. and no whinging from the Whingey Pom?

      In all seriousness though, I think that’s one of the biggest hurdles small businesses face when they go online. They’re so fixated on just getting the words and images up to fill the pages, 95% of them don’t take the time to craft the headlines and copy to appeal to people’s pains and fears, or better put, just to solve problems.

      I wish all my clients realised they were ‘deliverers of dreams’… great story!

  • Paul

    I totally agree with #19, while in uni studying design we learnt this time and time again and
    I think it was the Swiss that started that approach and style…

  • Kahli

    Number 10 – “Owning a camera doesn’t make you a photographer.” is a quite a good one. I think one of my all-time favourites though would have to be from Steve Jobs – “Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.”

    • Stevie boy was a very wise man! I totally agree Kahli. 🙂

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