Not that the starting and stopping of our work should ever hinge on it, but every designer finds themselves at one point or another in need of a little inspiration. And while it should never dictate our output, inspiration plays a vital role in the creative process. Maybe you're stuck in a rut, feeling like all of your final products look like carbon copies. Perhaps you're taking up the reins on something so new and unfamiliar it's terrifying, and you're looking for a little gumption. Maybe you just want to know there are other creatives out there paddling in the same boat as you. Whatever the reason, all designers from one time to another go scrolling for bits of inspiration. But scroll no more! We've taken it upon ourselves to put together the top 10 best quotes around design to give you the creative kick in the pants you're starving for.
1. "Don't bunt. Aim out of the ballpark. Aim for the company of immortals."
It doesn't seem right to start this list without mentioning the father of advertising himself. Ogilvy made an outstanding point with this one. If you're going to give yourself over to design, you might as well give your whole self. If you are feeling a lack of inspiration, it certainly won't be unearthed by creating mediocre work. By at least aiming for the company of immortals, even if you fall short, hopefully, you fall into a category of great, and if not there, at least really good. But one thing is for sure--bunting certainly won't land you anywhere exciting, and if you fall short of where you're aiming for with your bunt, well, you can guess where you end up.
2. "Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it."
In today's world, where people are putting their very best version of themselves forward, it's easy to get caught in the comparison game. We see perfection, and we think it's real, and before you know it, a nice healthy dose of perfectionism is knocking on your door. A true understanding of perfectionism reveals that it doesn't manifest as a flawless and constant stream of immaculate work. Instead, what it usually looks like in real life is death by analysis paralysis.
The designer never hits publish, never shares, or never declares something finished because the fear that underlies perfectionism has taken over. But Dali reassures us, we have nothing to fear. After all, who are we to think that if we tinker hard enough, our work will ever be truly perfect?
* This quote has also been attributed to Marie Curie, though neither has published source material for the statement.
3. "The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying."
This one is especially important for the creative to remember. From his book, "The War of Art," This notion is one that squashes a popular belief and refuses to let designers off the hook. Adhering to this concept means admonishing any thoughts about the idea of The Muse. The pro knows that spontaneous inspiration is for amateurs, while diligent, repetitive hard work is where the immortals Ogilvy was talking about are born.
4. "Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. All they are deciding, make even more art."
Ah, one of the greatest quotes about the artistic endeavor to ever exist. What Warhol knew was this: greatness comes from practice. No one starts out a virtuoso, and the only way to get there is by creating the work, and a lot of it. And no one is saying that this part of the work is fun.
It's usually filled up with mediocre projects that fall short of your expectations and break your little designer heart—which is where a lot of them quit. The only way to get past this phase is to keep working. Or, as Ira Glass puts it, "It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions."
5. "If no one hates it, no one really loves it."
- Jessica Walsh
This is a fabulous concept. The gist is that if your art isn't upsetting anyone, it isn't wowing anyone's socks off either. A design that doesn't illicit at least one divisive opinion means the design itself is too safe and fails to boldly declare anything. How else can we say this? You know what no one hates? Vanilla.
6. "Every great design begins with an even better story."
- Lorinda Mamo
It's not the color palette, the typography, the white space, or any other brilliant thing you think up that makes a design great (sorry). It's the story that came before it. The information you've decided to translate into an aesthetic to communicate something unique and compelling to your audience. But notice, this means that to create great design, you have to know the story that came first.
7. "The key to great ideas is not having them; it's executing them."
Having a great idea doesn't make you a designer or an artist. Great ideas are a dime a dozen. If everyone had the guts to take action on their great ideas, the world would be a much different place. But the reality is that this isn't the case, and it's the execution that makes things truly great.
Even the most genius artistic endeavor can fall to pieces in the implementation. That is where greatness is born. That is where all of the practice comes into play. When the artist's execution is flawless or is as close to perfect as one can get — this is when the great idea becomes a grand reality.
8. "The chief enemy of creativity is "good" sense."
Picasso preaches pure truth with this one. After all, good sense would never suggest that one should aim for the company of immortals. Good sense says to take the safe bunt and trot at a reasonable pace on over to first base. Creativity comes by asking questions, daring to break the rules, and go into the arena that scares you most. All of which good sense would argue strongly against. If all designers followed their practicality in reasoning in their approach to creative disciplines, the world would be a much less beautiful place.
9. "Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It's a gift to the world and every being in it. Don't cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you've got."
Yep, another one from Steven Pressfield. What can we say? The guy just knows what he's talking about when it comes to creativity. He goes on to illustrate the point that withholding whatever gift you've been given is a disservice to whoever gave it to you and the people it might serve. As a designer, you have a duty to share your gift with others. To create is not selfish, it is indeed just the opposite.
"You can have an art experience in front of a Rembrandt... Or in front of a piece of graphic design."
Remind yourself of this every day. The endeavor of graphic design is just as important as that of classical painting. It is your generation’s way of making their visual mark on the world. And by tossing good sense aside, sitting down to do the work (volumes of it, in fact), and aiming for the fences, the designer might just be able to create a piece that invokes an art experience. It is the reason for the work, and the reason that to withhold the skill is just plain selfishness. We want what you've got.
Let us know what other quotes and personalities inspire you and get your creativity flowing.
"Now sit down and get to work." - The Boss Lady at PRIME, a.k.a Me.