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Graphic Design Don'ts: Rules to Live By as a Designer

4 MINUTE READ | May 8, 2016

Graphic Design Don'ts: Rules to Live By as a Designer

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Cynthia De La Torre

Cynthia De La Torre has written this article. More details coming soon.

On the very first day of my very first graphic design class in high school, my then design teacher told the class something that I will never forget: “Once you are set to become a graphic designer, you’ll never see the world the same. You’ll judge every logo, every book cover, every poster, and every single design you come across. This can be a terrible thing or a wonderful thing.

Boy, was she right. Since going on to study graphic design in college, everywhere I look, I see my fair share of good design and bad design and proceed to deconstruct it in my head. It’s usually the bad design that stays with me and I’m left wondering how the hell it made it out the door. From album covers (Kanye’s TLOP is terrible) to movie posters (X-Men’s First Class), I’ve seen my share of pretty bad designs. Hey, even I’m not safe from myself, I like to look back at the design work I did in high school and think how I even managed to decide to study graphic design (you can ask me for more of those gems, I have plenty).

I wish someone had told me back then that those shades of brown and green aren’t a very good color combination. Actually, I wish someone had told me about design don’ts from the start. That being said, I decided to create a list of things that graphic designers have all agreed (well most) should be avoided at all costs.

  • Don’t: Use Too Many Fonts in Your Design

    • The fonts you use in a design can either make it or break it. And one way to break it is by using more than 3+ fonts in the same design. No one is going to take the time to read the flyer design for your lost dog when you used 8 different fonts. Rex won’t come home and it’s because you used more than 3 fonts in your design.

  • Don’t: Cram Your Design with Stuff

    • Don’t think just because there’s a blank area in your design that you have to fill it with something. The best designs are the designs that use white space to their advantage. White space is not wasted space. Whoever said that is lying.

  • Don’t: Just Jump Right in to Photoshop/Illustrator/InDesign

    • Unless you have an hour to create a whole poster, it’s never a good idea to just start putting things together. Even if you think you can’t draw, sketching and looking up inspiration is super important. It’s a great way to get your concept set up and ready before you bring it into a program. This process takes some time, but it’s a large and very important part of the overall process. Some of the websites I always head to for inspiration are and

  • Don’t: Have the Same Solution for Every Design

    • Creative Director Duane King once said “routine is the enemy of creativity.” If you’re using the same concept, the same font, the same layout, you’re destroying your creativity. Of course, sometimes you have clients with guidelines where you have to stay in the same routine, but if this is a design from scratch, always try something different. That’s what keeps creativity creative! Have fun, try something new, and don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone.

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These are only a few of the many rules designers live by. Others include: don’t work without having coffee first, don’t steal someone else’s artwork, don’t be lazy, and be sure to tell your mom that your job is more than just drawing and playing on the computer.

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