Graphic design has come a long way. But while it’s a constantly evolving art form, there are common graphic design myths that many designers and non-designers still believe to this day. Below, we list 10 of these myths and give you inspirational design tips along the way.
It’s safe to say the concept of ‘graphic design’ has evolved astronomically since the term first emerged in the 1920s. The phrase was first coined by illustrator and book designer William Dwiggins to describe his work in printed communications like book design, illustration, typography, lettering, and calligraphy. By the 1950s, the term was widely used to describe the creation of visual materials like posters, print advertisements, and street signage.
But as technology has changed, so too has the application of graphic design. Now, its uses go far beyond just print materials, spanning across the digital and even virtual reality worlds. With so many iterations of graphic design over the years, it’s no surprise that there are some major misconceptions as to what the term actually means. In this article, we help set the record straight by clearing up 10 of the most common myths about graphic design.
1. Graphic design is just about creating logos
Logos are an important graphic design asset for any business. They become an emblem of your company, which people will come to identify with your brand values and what you offer. You only need to look at the Nike swoosh accompanied with ‘Just Do It’ or the McDonald's’ golden M to see this in action.
Graphic design isn’t solely about creating logos. Graphic design is the art of creating visual content to communicate a certain message.
This can be applied to a vast array of mediums—whether that’s posters, magazine spreads, album covers, infographics brand presentations—the list goes on!
Design tip: Use your logo as a starting point to inform the rest of your brand kit, including your color palette and typography. These should remain consistent throughout all of your brand assets for a cohesive look.
This modern Black and White Bordered Band Logo template could be easily customized with your own brand colors and font for a simple yet effective logo.
2. Graphic design is only for print mediums
In 2018, graphic design encompasses a wide range of digital mediums, perhaps even more so than print. This includes website banners, social media graphics, and email newsletters. Many graphic designers even find that their roles now cross over with web and UX (user experience design), content creation and social media.
Design tip: Whether it’s YouTube channel art, email headers, Facebook covers and blog banners, each web or social media platform uses banners of different sizes. Using templates in the right dimensions is useful to ensure that your design will fit perfectly and avoid pixelated banners.
The Greyscale Photo Masculine Fitness Facebook Cover template is the perfect dimension for a Facebook cover image, which can be used for your brand’s Facebook page or group. Split into two clear sections, you can easily swap the image and brand information out with your own for a perfectly balanced Facebook banner.
3. Graphic design only uses still images
Graphic design is no longer limited to still imagery or graphics. As video continues to grow into one of the most powerful advertising mediums, animation and videos are becoming an important part of the graphic design toolkit. This includes GIFs, graphics for YouTube videos, animated infographics and social media ads featuring a slideshow of images and graphics.
Design tip: If you're running Facebook ads for your business, you may want to consider creating GIFs or video slideshows for your brand, as research shows that Facebook users are five times more likely to engage with this than static imagery.
4. You need fancy tools for graphic design
Most professional graphic designers use complex design software and a tablet with a stylus for freehand design elements. While these resources can give designers more freedom with their designs, they can be quite expensive and take years to master. The good news is, the average person doesn’t need to invest in these pricey tools to create graphic design elements.
Design tip: There are many free design tools on the market (including Canva) that make graphic design easy and accessible. Using these tools for every piece of branding collateral will help give your brand an elevated and professional look.
5. Graphic design is just about picking the right font
The art of arranging text is one of the key elements of creating beautiful designs. However, this is not simply about choosing a font that looks good. You must consider which font type suits your brand message, values and target demographic.
For example, cursive script tends to compliment brands with a traditional feel, while solid sans serif fonts are more modern. Other considerations involve the combination of fonts on the page, the size, and boldness of the text, the spacing between letters, and the color of the text.
However, typography isn’t the only thing to consider when it comes to graphic design. It’s all about the interplay between the text and the other elements on the page, including images, graphics, shapes, lines, framing, and white space. In order to create a powerful design, these must all work together in perfect synchronicity.
Design tip: It’s a good idea to make the text the last element you add to your design, so you can ensure your typography compliments the overall design.
In the Texture Earth Quote Poster template, the creator has masterfully combined bold typography, wide spacing, and alternating line spacing to with the framing of the olive branch graphics to create an eye-catching design.
6. Graphic design is about following visual trends
As with any creative industry, trends rapidly come and go in the graphic design world. In 2018, it was all about handwritten fonts, pastel colors, and textures. It’s more than likely that 2019 will bring with it a new crop of visual trends.
It's the job of graphic designers to stay on the pulse of these trends, but not be a slave to them. The same can be applied to beginners who are creating graphic design assets for their own business.
Trends can be fun to incorporate into your designs, but they shouldn’t be the main focus. Designs that incorporate fleeting trends can easily look dated a few months down the track, meaning they will no longer have a powerful impact on their audience.
Design tip: For graphic design materials that will only be used for a certain amount of time (for example, social media graphics or event invitations) it’s fine to play with new trends. However, for collateral that will be used indefinitely, like your brand logo, it’s a good idea to stick to timeless design elements.
While the Grunge Restaurant Logo template has a slightly vintage feel, it uses elements that will never go out of style, such a monochrome color scheme, silhouette graphic, and neat caps text. It’s hard to imagine that it would ever feel dated.
7. You need to be a natural born creative to do graphic design
It’s true that many graphic designers have a natural creative streak and visual eye, hence why they gravitate towards the field. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be a natural born creative to make effective designs. Like anything, graphic design is a skill that can be taught and learned.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not always just about having a vision and magically bringing it to life. Graphic design is as much a science as it is an art. There is a method and technique to it, which begins with being aware of the various elements that make up a powerful and effective design.
Design tip: You don’t have to begin your graphic design journey alone. There are many brilliant graphic design resources that can help you master the basics of graphic design and help you create polished designs, such as Lynda or Skillshare courses or Canva’s new Design School feature.
8. Graphic design is about making things pretty
One of the biggest misconceptions about graphic design is that it is simply about making things look ‘pretty’ or aesthetically pleasing. However, this is not always the case. Firstly, ‘pretty’ is a highly subjective term. What one person thinks looks good, may look tacky or messy to another. Secondly, ‘pretty’ isn’t always the goal of graphic design. While making designs look neat and beautiful in the traditional sense may work for a women’s beauty or fashion brand, this may not necessarily work for a men’s hardware brand.
The objective of the design isn’t always to make the audience think, “Oh, that looks pretty” either. Sometimes, it’s to shock the viewer, prompt thought, or even make them angry.
Design tip: When it comes to creating designs, always think about the action you want your audience to take and work backward from this. This will make far more of an impact than just trying to make your design look ‘good.’
The key objective of the Blue Beige Photo Homelessness Poster template isn’t to look ‘pretty’, but rather to elicit an emotional response and prompt the viewer to take action.
9. Graphic design is about what the creator thinks looks good
Similarly, graphic design isn’t just about what the creator thinks looks nice in a design. Of course, it’s important for a designer to use their best judgment as to what is going to look best on the page. Ultimately, designers shouldn’t be designing for themselves or even their client, but rather their audience. Often, professional graphic designs are required to put their personal tastes aside in order to create visuals that are going to resonate with their audience. The same approach should be taken by people DIYing their graphic design using an app like Canva.
Design tip: Before starting your designs, it’s important to do extensive research into your target audience. You can even do market research to see which types of designs most appeal to your target audience, then customize these for your own business.
It is clear that the target audience of the Kids Classroom Learning Poster template is school children. The creator used bold, easy to read text, cute illustrations and a bright color scheme that is likely to appeal to this demographic.
10. Graphic design is about creating 100% original designs every time
Originality is important when it comes to graphic design—it’s what allows you to set your brand apart from competitors. However, this doesn’t mean you have to create 100% original designs from scratch every time you want to make visual materials. Even professional graphic designers set up templates, for when they are going to be creating similar assets on an ongoing basis. This allows them to achieve consistency across their brand collateral.
Design tip: Setting up templates for Instagram posts is a great place to start. You can set up one or a few templates with your brand colors and logo which you can simply customize with text each time you want to post a new quote.
You can see this in action in the Sky Blue Background and Simple White Border Slang Quotes template. The quote text has been changed, but the original design remains the same.