Graphic DesignTypographyPopular Lies* About Graphic Design

I bought ‘Popular Lies* About Graphic Design’ by Craig Ward a while back now. I hadn’t got around to reading it due to so much happening at Uni but seeing it in one of my tutor’s offices the other week reminded me about it.

It might be small in size, but not in content!

Craig has used type as image to create dynamic spreads with great impact:

‘The truth can be hard to see’

The book visits a number of famous graphic design assumptions/lies including:
‘An education in design is pointless.’, ‘A good idea doesn’t require a budget.’, ‘The client is always right.’ and ‘The best work wins the award.’

Here’s a few of my favourite spreads:

‘Comic Sans is the worst typeface ever created.’ – I wouldn’t use Comic Sans in my work but lets face it, every typeface has its purpose and it’s fine for children’s bake sale posters etc. There are some really awful fonts out there compared to Comic Sans; it’s harmless (fun and bouncy) but admit it, you love to hate it!

‘Designers are famous.’ – I can’t remember who said it to me but I love this quote: “Graphic Designers are like dentists.” We’ll probably never be a household name, but we’re providing a service that everyone needs!

‘Helvetica is neutral.’ – Why is Helvetica neutral? Because it’s simple and ‘a classic’ or because it’s plain and has no personality? It’s up to you, but at the end of the day it’s just not appropriate for every job.

‘Red means hot, blue means cold.’ – Colours have so many connotations now, the traditional assumptions are a little outdated. Pink for a girl, green or brown for organic?

‘Graphic design is easy.’ – “All you do is colouring in.” “It’s a mickey mouse degree.” And the list goes on… Personally, I don’t think Graphic Design is easy and I don’t want it to be. It’s a challenge – Graphic Designers have to be intelligent, good with people, have brilliant attention to detail and interested in everything. You can easily do ‘bad’ Graphic Design, but it’s hard work that produces ‘good’ Graphic Design.

Craig asked other designers about the biggest lie they’ve been told about design…

It was interesting reading them, including:

“Memorise the Quark Express keyboard shortcuts” Leo Jung – It’s all about the Adobe suite nowadays so all those hours memorising the shortcuts were wasted.

“Less is more!” – Milton Glaser – some of today’s design definitely is more.

The playful type is great.

‘Longer deadlines lead to better work’ – Having longer doesn’t necessarily mean you will do better work or more work. I work better under pressure – small deadlines are more productive!

‘Print is dead.’ – Print is definitely not dead from my point of view. I love traditional print methods and although I recognise there are financial benefits to the digital age, there’s nothing like holding a real book/magazine/CD in your hands.

I just put this in here because I really like that it’s a folded page printed onto a page 🙂

The 4th ‘lie’ in the book is ‘Having a fetish for design makes me a good designer’ where Craig observes that people with successful design blogs aren’t necessarily good designers. This is something I worry about myself – I love blogging but am I a better blogger or a better designer? Does it even matter? I would say that blogging has improved my design because I have become more critical and analytical about my own work through looking at the work of others. I agree with Craig, often I think I need to stop blogging about other people’s work and do some myself! It’s easy for everyone to have an opinion, but it’s producing great design that is hard!

Craig observes that ‘at the end of the day, no designer ever got hired for a job because they had a good Tumblr stream.’ Well, it’s OK because I’m on wordpress 🙂

So all in all, this is a great little book – it’s small, but bursting with wisdom! Great to look at and great to read, I found it really interesting and it made me think. I’ve learnt a lot about my own opinions and perceptions of Graphic Design too, whilst reading about those of other’s. I’d definitely recommend it  – who wants to borrow it?

To get your own copy, go here. If you’re still not quite convinced, check out more of the spreads on Behance or read from the man himself, Craig Ward.

Have you read it? What did you think? Let me know 🙂


  • Ivan Guzman

    25/06/2013 at 11:27 pm

    Reblogueó esto en Ivan Guzmany comentado:
    ¡Muy buen artículo!
    ¡Os recomiendo! ( n__n)b

  • msalexwitney

    07/07/2013 at 12:32 pm

    So interesting! The quote about graphic designers being like dentists made me chuckle 🙂

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© Natasha Nuttall | February 2020

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