7 Of The Biggest Lies In Graphic Design

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"Popular Lies About Graphic Design" is a  pocket-sized book by Craig Ward where Ward's famous designer friends respond to the question: What’s the biggest lie you’ve ever been told about design?

1. LONGER DEADLINES WILL LEAD TO BETTER WORK.
--Craig Ward
My experience may be unique. But for my money, you rarely need more than a few weeks for most still image projects. Obviously, if you’re attempting something more ambitious, or time related, then you may need longer, but, really, three or four rounds of amends over the course of a couple of weeks is usually ample. Much more and you can end up wasting your time chasing unworkable ideas or losing focus, much less and you may feel under too much pressure to deliver and that, in itself can be equally stifling.

2. THERE’S NO BUDGET, BUT IT’S A GREAT OPPORTUNITY.
--Craig Ward
And that would be an opportunity for what exactly?

If you go your entire career without receiving this kind of a proposition, you’re doing either extremely well or extremely badly depending on your mindset. The idea that it’s okay for you to spend days of your time creating work for world-renowned clients who aren’t paying you a decent wage is pretty shameful--yet often unavoidable. Unless you set your stall out very early on and stick to your guns.


3. YOU CAN’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER.
--David Carson
If the designer has done their job, you should absolutely be able to do this.


4. THE COMPUTER IS JUST A TOOL.
--Stefan Sagmeister
It is not. You are the tool.


5. STAY SMALL.
--Willy Wong
“Stay small” was a piece of advice I heard quite often when I began my career. Smaller studios and a small circle of clients--I was told--meant more control and thus (work of a) higher quality. In fact, go solo if you could.

Nowadays, I find that nothing happens in a silo and that everything is connected. If you’ve got sharp kerning skills, good intentions, and the ingenuity to spin gold out of thin air, why not add solid management skills to your belt and be able to kill it at scale? The world seems to need designers more than ever. What’s wrong with being part of a group, playing in a team, forming a league, building a community. Not everyone has the capacity to manage process, budgets, expectations, or personalities, but if you got ‘em, why not go for it? Balls out!


6. “WE DON’T HAVE ANY MONEY.”
--Craig Redman
It’s that whole tiresome act of the client pleading poor and screwing you down to the dollar. Then you find out later they paid a million bucks for some other component of the project.


7. PEOPLE WILL WANT TO BUY YOUR PIN, BADGES, AND T-SHIRT.
--Craig Ward
They probably won’t. Sorry.

Remember that even these so-called lies should be taken with a grain of salt; design is subjective, and you’re entitled to your own bloody opinions. As Ward writes in his introduction, "This is not a book full of facts. Nor is it a book full of advice. It’s a book full of opinions, and confusion between those three is how a lot of these problems begin." In other words, don’t feel you need to take other people’s espoused opinions as facts.