50 Inspirational Quotes on the Art & Science of Design

Simple quotes can hold timeless and moving lessons. As designers, we’re lucky to have an exceptional pool of people who have spearheaded the industry over the years, crafting clever insights based on years of experience. Other contributors to this list aren’t designers at all, but have given an outsider’s fascinating insight into the world of design.

Our hope is that these quotes will hope you approach your workday with a sense of inspiration and focus on what you really want to achieve.



1. James Randolph Adams

Great designers seldom make great advertising men, because they get overcome by the beauty of the picture – and forget that merchandise must be sold.

2. Milton Glaser

The real issue is not talent as an independent element, but talent in relationship to will, desire and persistence.

3. Charles Eames

Design is an expression of the purpose, and it may (if it is good enough) later be judged as art; design depends largely on constraints and it is a method of action (there are always constraints and these usually include ethic).

4. Douglas Adams

A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.

5. Milton Glaser

To design is to communicate clearly by whatever means you can control or master.

6. John Maeda

If there were a prerequisite for the future successful digital creative, it would be the passion for discovery.

7. Kate Krebs

Waste is a design flaw.

8. Clement Mok

Design, in its broadest sense, is the enabler of the digital era – it’s a process that creates order out of chaos, that renders technology usable to business. Design means being good, not just looking good.

9. John D. Berry

Only when the design fails does it draw attention to itself; when it succeeds, it’s invisible.

10. Jorge Frascara

Good graphic design solutions to communication problems can improve the flow of information in society and, therefore, substantially and positively affect education, social well-being and the daily enjoyment of life. In addition, good graphic design solutions can also have a positive economic impact.

11. David Hockney

Art has to move you and design does not, unless it’s a good design for a bus.

12. Scott Adams

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Design is knowing which ones to keep.

13. Freeman Thomas

Good design begins with honesty, asks tough questions, comes from collaboration and from trusting your intuition.

14. Milton Glaser

There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.

15. Stanley Morrison

Type design moves at the pace of the most conservative reader. The good type-designer therefore realizes that, for a new fount to be successful, it has to be so good that only very few recognize its novelty.

16. Jenaiha Woods

Design is the contrast of the core of limitations therefore there are no boundaries. It is simply an interpretation of creativity.

17. Jeffery Veen

Designers can create normalcy out of chaos; they can clearly communicate ideas through the organizing and manipulating of words and pictures.

18. Adrian Frutiger

If you remember the shape of your spoon at lunch, it has to be the wrong shape. The spoon and the letter are tools; one to take food from the bowl, the other to take information off the page… When it is a good design, the reader has to feel comfortable because the letter is both banal and beautiful.

19. Jan Tschichold

Perfect typography is certainly the most elusive of all arts. Sculpture in stone alone comes near it in obstinacy.

20. Massimo Vignelli

I see graphic design as the organization of information that is semantically correct, syntactically consistent and pragmatically understandable.

21. Zuzana Licko

The most popular typefaces are the easiest to read; their popularity has made them disappear from conscious cognition. It becomes impossible to tell if they are easy to read because they are commonly used, or if they are commonly used because they are easy to read.

22. Adrian Frutiger

Helvetica is the jeans, and Univers the dinner jacket. Helvetica is here to stay.

23. David Carson

If you have no intuitive sense of design, then call yourself an “information architect” and only use Helvetica.

24. Alexander Gelman

Any good typeface can be completely destroyed when misused or extensively overused. Helvetica seemed to sustain a beating like no other. Still fresh, still popular, Helvetica is king.

25. Paola Antonelli

Designers may be the true intellectuals of the future.

26. Erik Adigard

Design is in everything we make, but it’s also between those things. It’s a mix of craft, science, storytelling, propaganda, and philosophy.

27. Steff Geissbuhler

I have never designed a logotype without first trying it in Helvetica. It is still the most versatile, classic and readable of all typefaces.

28. Michael Ian Kaye

What a graphic designer tries to do is make sure the typography is emotionally consistent with the brand.

29. Massimo Vignelli

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.

30. Roi James

Great design is all about details. With innovative material selection, sensible construction techniques and modern aesthetics one can craft a unique design language that sets a new standard.

31. Frederic W. Goudy

Anyone that would letterspace blackletter would steal sheep.

32. Eric Gill

There are now about as many different varieties of letters as there are different kinds of fools.

33. Wolfgang Weingart

Berthold is still a good typeface, but even Berthold has some less than attractive features, and then I just cut them off because I didn’t like them.

34. Luke Wroblewski

Visual organization is the deliberate prioritization of meaning within a visual design. It’s the process of applying the principles behind perception – how we make sense of what we see – to illuminate relationships between content and actions.

35. Jeff I. Richards

Creative without strategy is called ‘art’. Creative with strategy is called ‘advertising’.

36. Serge Zuev

The original idea makes design distinctive, function makes it work and quality adds value.

37. Don Newgren

Design is intelligence made visible.

38. John Maeda

Skill in the digital age is confused with mastery of digital tools, masking the importance of understanding materials and mastering the elements of form.

39. Paul Rand

It is no secret that the real world in which the designer functions is not the world of art, but the world of buying and selling.

40. Linda van Deursen

Grids do not exist in a vacuum. They exist in relation to the content. We never start with a grid. We start with an idea which is then translated into a form, a structure.

41. Steve Jobs

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

42. Richard Grefé

Design is the intermediary between information and understanding.

43. Nolan Bushnell

The ultimate inspiration is the deadline.

44. George Santayana

Graphic design is the paradise of individuality, eccentricity, heresy, abnormality, hobbies and humors.

45. Hans Hofmann

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.

46. Jon Franklin

Simplicity, carried to an an extreme, becomes elegance.

47. Edward R. Tufte

Confusion and clutter are the failure of design, not the attributes of information.

48. C.W. Ceram

Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple.

49. Jim Jarmusch

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.

50. Robin Mathew                   Design is where science and art break even.



One Response to “50 Inspirational Quotes on the Art & Science of Design”

  1. Olena Skiba says:

    My adventure has all been in my mind. The great adventure has been thinking. I love to think about things. I think that the lack of drama in my life has produced a platform for me to be fundamentally adventurous in my thinking.