Answers to Design Struggles. The Paul Rand Edition. Paul Said it Better.

1. The need for perfection.

“No matter how perfectly you do something, it can still be improved.”

2. Producing good work while pleasing the client.

“Unless the design function in business bureaucracy is so structured that direct access to the ultimate decision-maker is possible, trying to produce good work is very often an exercise in futility. Ignorance of the history and methodology of design — how work is conceived, produced, and reproduced — adds to the difficulties and misunderstandings.” — The Politics of Design

3. Providing options

“I asked him if he would come up with a few options. And he said, ‘No, I will solve your problem for you, and you will pay me. And you don’t have to use the solution — if you want options, go talk to other people.” — Steve Jobs (in regards to the NeXT logo)

4. Keep pushing the limits.

“Even if it is true that the average man seems most comfortable with the commonplace and familiar, it is equally true that catering to bad taste, which we so readily attribute to the average reader, merely perpetuates that mediocrity and denies the reader one of the most easily accessible means for aesthetic development and eventual enjoyment.” A designer’s Art

5. A logo is not the brand.

“It is only by association with a product, a service, a business, or a corporation that a logo takes on any real meaning. If a company is second rate, the logo will eventually be perceived as second rate. It is foolhardy to believe that a logo will do its job immediately, before an audience has been properly conditioned.”

6. Design by committee.

“Design is a problem-solving activity. It provides a means of clarifying, synthesizing, and dramatizing a word, a picture, a product, or an event. A serious barrier to the realization of good design, however, are the layers of management inherent in any bureaucratic structure. For aside from the sheer prejudice or simple unawareness, one is apt to encounter such absurdities as second guessing, kow-towing, posturing, nit-picking, and jockeying for position, let alone such buck-passing institutions as the committee meeting and the task force. At issue, it seems, is neither malevolence nor stupidity, but human frailty. — A designer’s Art

7. Keeping it simple.

“Many times the most simple things are the most complex. design is so simple. That’s why it’s so complicated.”

8. Working for free.

“I’ll solve your problem for you the best way I know how, and you use it or not, that’s up to you — you’re the client — but you pay me.” Link

9. Too much creative freedom.

“Without specific formal limitations, without the challenging possibilities of introducing the element of play, both teacher and student cannot help but be bored. The product may take the form of a superficial (but sometimes “professional looking”) literal translation of the problem, or of a meaningless abstract pattern or shape, which, incidentally, may be justified with enthusiasm but often with specious reasoning.

Similarly, there are badly stated problems in basic design, stressing pure aesthetics, free expression, without any restraints or practical goals. Such a problem may be posed in this fashion: arrange a group of geometric shapes in any manner you see fit, using any number of colors, to make a pleasing pattern. The results of such vagaries are sometimes pretty, but mostly meaningless or monotonous. The student has the illusion of creating great art in an atmosphere of freedom, when in fact he is handicapped by the absence of certain disciplines which would evoke ideas, make playing with those ideas possible, work absorbing, and results interesting.” — Design and the Play Instinct

10. Designing without content

“A work of art is realized when form and content are indistinguishable. When they are in synthesis. In other words, when they fuse. When form predominates, meaning is blunted… When content predominates, interest lags.” — Interview with Preston McLanahan

11. Trying to follow trend.

“Don’t try to me original. just try to be good.”