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40 Crucial Lessons From The Most Famous Graphic Designers In History

by Designhill Tweet - in Graphic Designers - 11 min read

Graphic Designers

Last updated on February 22nd, 2018

Graphic design is a vast creative area. To make a mark, it demands that graphic designers comes out with new concepts every single time. But that condition is only for the designers who wish to stand out. Now it’s upto you whether you decide to be one of those designers doing routine and cliched works that no one remembers or you want to be one of the renowned designers who are remembered for their stellar designs.

Can you design nothing but letters to tell a story like iconic graphic designer Wolfgang Weingart does? He shows us how radical experiments with typography can create new trends. Or, have a look at amazingly expressive designs from Peter Saville. He uses loud and bold colors, which other designers generally avoid. Many such great graphic designers share one common trait–they all create something that is captivating and out-of-the- box. A close study of their work will elevate your design skills and thinking to a new level.

So, are you satisfied with churning out meaningless design items day in and day out? Or, would you like to create something that is extraordinary? If you dream of making it big in the graphic design world, then learn from iconic graphic designers.

To make your search for great graphic designers easier, we jotted down 40 essential points from famous graphic designers, which if implemented can change graphic design for good. Observe their works and skills, and fall in love with their amazing creations. Get inspired from them.

Here Are 40 Most Famous Graphic Designers

01. David Carson: Break The Existing Rules

With the reputation for breaking conventions, Carson is most famous graphic designers. He believes that what matters is the intuitive design sense. His work shows an affinity for everyday objects which shows that for a designer it is important to find beauty and interest in everyday things.

David Carson

02. Stefan Sagmeister: Upset The Norm

Known for unorthodox, provocative designs, Stefan believes in altering popular perceptions. He is an accomplished contemporary designer and gives painstaking detail to his work. His body of work makes him a cunning trickster with blending sense of sexuality and humor through typography, design, conceptual exhibitions and also environmental art.

Stefan Sagmeister

03. Saul Bass: Learn From The Master

A legend in the world of design, Saul Bass started working in the mid 20th century. His distinctive minimal style stepped up the sophistication of movie posters. His signature “kinetic type” design are seen in logos which are solid, timeless and thoughtful.

Do you want a logo design based on minimalistic design principles for your business? Such a logo conveys your brand message with balanced emotions for a desired effect on your target audience.

Saul Bass

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04. Paula Scher: Wholly New Symbology

The first woman described as the “master conjurer of the instantly familiar,” Paula Scher straddles the design lines between fine art and pop culture. Her eclectic approach to typography has helped to re-imagine the urban landscape. Her graphic identities have become case studies for the contemporary regeneration of brand logos.

Paula Scher

05. Michael Bierut: Making Difficult Content Accessible

Often referred to as “democratizing design”, Michael Bierut has an ever-present approach to graphic designing. Bierut paved the way to creating sharp, concrete and direct design for complex content making and is considered one of the famous graphic designers of the 20th century.

Michael Bierut

06. Massimo Vignelli: Convey Busy Ideas Easily

Covering nearly every field of design, Massimo is an avid fan of modernism and does not entertain any form of clutter or unnecessary material in the design. Famous graphic designers 2017 follow his concise work where experimental, abstracted design are predominantly visible.

Massimo Vignelli

Abstract design style is often visible also in the works of illustrations and graphics designers.

07. Paul Rand: Everything Is Design – Blend Copy With The Design

Paul Rand developed radical new methods in the field of logo creation and designing by visually transforming America post WWII. He removed copywriting from the principal position in design and simplified the amount of the type. Form and function interacts in his design rather than one dominating the other.

Paul Rand

08. Milton Glaser: Easy To Understand

Wonder where the iconic I❤NY brand came from? He also created poster designs for Bob Dylan and made it one of his timeless and most powerful creations. Flat color and contoured lines created an emblematic image in his work.

Milton Glaser

09. Alan Fletcher: Expressing With Typography

Sometimes named as the British ‘father’ of graphic design, Alan Fletcher is amongst the top list of famous graphic designers. He focused on expressive typography with strong visual language with the help of bold colors. Typography is not an optional decorative extra according to him but is a crucial element to business in graphic design.

Alan Fletcher

Make sure that as a typography based graphic designer you look for new ways to use typeface to create unique designs.

10. Lester Beall: A Creative Problem Solver

Inspirational, avant-garde designs with his revolutionary attitude left a mark on the design community. He believed that graphic designing are no less than creative problem solvers and should have equal involvement in the marketing side of business.

Lester Beall

11. Hermann Zapf: Be A Game Changer

Hermann Zapf has major contribution in the field of typography. Palatino, Zapf Dingbats, Optima are some of the popular typefaces that he created and also pioneered computerized typography. He invented a typesetting program which now serves as the trend setter in modern day software developments.

Hermann Zapf

12. Claude Garamond: The Trend Setter

Back in 1505, Claude Garamond became the first ever person to specialize in type design in a professional capacity. Garamond created a series of iconic typefaces, one of which is named after him (Garamond) and other like Sabon, Granjon are still in use.

Claude Garamond

13. William Golden: Another Pioneer Name

William Golden changed the graphic design industry with his bold, punchy work at CBS and was acclaimed for his stylistic approach. He paved the way for the thought that a designer and an artist are two different identities.

William Golden

14. Jan Tschichold: Bring Prolific Changes

Establishing new typographical standards, Tschichold worked for the standardization of paper sizes and created the new day guidelines for typographical hierarchy. The iconic orange Penguin Book cover design is one of his celebrated works.

Jan Tschichold

15. Cipe Pineles: Fly Away From Limited Designs

The first female designer to become a member of the Art Directors Club in New York, Cipe Pineles created the trend with illustrating in mass-market publications. Vogue and Vanity Fair has her work and had long standing trend within magazine design.

Cipe Pineles

16. Jacqueline Casey: Designs With Strong Meaning

She was celebrated for her majorly influential Swiss-inspired posters. She was an active member in developing the emerging European Swiss typography and design. Her work is still considered in case studies of clean, strong design with impactful meaning.

Jacqueline Casey

17. Abram Games: Believed In “Maximum Meaning, Minimum Means”

An official WWII artist, Games’ work set a trend for designers everywhere with the motto “maximum meaning, minimum means”. The design is meant to be neat and simple with direct meaning.

Abram Games

Clutter-free designs are the best when you are aiming for simplicity and aesthetics of the works. Your website design, for example, can convey its brand message instantly with few images, minimum use of typeface and other elements. Such a site will linger in memories for long.

18. Susan Kare: Merging Designs In Technology

A contemporary designer, Susan Kare is a known for works as Geneva typeface, Monaco typeface, icons like the trash can and more. She developed a series of interface element designs for Apple and majority of them has influenced much of the current interface design.

Susan Kare

19. Josef Muller-Brockmann: Grid In Designs

Capturing the ins and outs of Swiss design, his greatest legacy lies in the role of development and using grid system in graphic design. The tool is even used daily by contemporary designers.

Josef Muller-Brockmann

20. Armin Hofmann: Less Is More

Powerful, clean designs of Hoffman has inspired designers from past and present. The purpose making of the designs are very well conveyed through the effective and timeless designs.

Armin Hofmann

21. Chip Kidd: Mastering The Visual Narration

A contemporary designer, Chip Kidd has a unique approach to design with narrative in visual language. This radical way of designing makes it memorable and timeless.

Chip Kidd

Do you also wish to create an impressive visual language through your graphic design? A clever and strategic use of colors is your best bet to ensure a desired visual environment in your creation.

22. Seymour Chwast: Concentrate On Design Disciplines

Often referred to the one who shaped contemporary design and illustration, his iconic and expressive style blend the two disciplines to create clean, minimalist nature of Swiss design.

Seymour Chwast

23. Alexey Brodovich: Be Updated With Trends

Simpler and modern designs were created by Brodovich which consistently was used to experiment not only in designs but also in typography, photography, and layout design.

Alexey Brodovich

24. Max Miedinger

Miedinger is known for developing one of the most popularly used typefaces in the world, Helvetica and is a paragon of Swiss design with flexible, clean and legible designs.

Max Miedinger

25. Herb Lubalin: Pun For Fun

Lubalin’s typographics enhanced the scope for written messages with creating different visual language and puns.

Herb Lubalin

26. John Maeda: Interact With Audience

Maeda redefined the use of computerized media and explored both digital mediums and analogue resulting in development of interactive motion graphics.

John Maeda

27. April Greiman: Inculcate New Tech

Recognized as one of the first designers to encourage the implementation of technology in graphic design, Greiman pioneered the move to put ‘graphic’ in ‘graphic design’.

April Greiman

28. Ladislav Sutnar: Convey The Information

Famous for making sense out of nonsense through graphical design, Sutnar’s techniques include limiting his color and type palettes to bring clarity in designs.
Ladislav Sutnar

29. El Lissitzky: Power Though Visuals

Known for his political propaganda poster designs, used huge domino effect and stylized shapes to create a powerful visual language.

El Lissitzky

30. Muriel Cooper: 3D Designing

Creating visual depth, size changes, 3D type, shifts in focus, Cooper created a ground breaking step in the modern day digital design.

Muriel Cooper

31. Alvin Lustig: More Suggestive Designs

A radical approach of Lustig operated under a ‘suggest, don’t tell’ method. His designs visually captured the tone of the text and did not plainly summarize the content.

Alvin Lustig

32. Otl Aicher: Creating Identities

Known for using pictograms, Otl Aicher created a stunning identity with the use of vibrant colors and a strict grid system. Simple stick figure graphics is also his famous work.

Otl Aicher

33. Lucian Bernhard: Minimalist Approach

No slogans and flat colors was Bernhard’s approach which is very much into modern design practices for minimalist designs.

Lucian Bernhard

34. Neville Brody: Edgy Designs

Gaining inspiration from punk movement, Brody created punchy, unique edge and revolutionized album and magazine covers.

Neville Brody

If your magazine is doing a story on an exciting and pathbreaking issue, make sure that your magazine cover design features the story in clean and precise manner.

35. Erik Nitsche: Convey Powerful Ideas

His own personal modernist flair now serves as a trend in creating industrial designs as well as commercial ones.

Erik Nitsche

36. Adrian Frutiger: Readable Typefaces

Frutiger focused on the necessity for typefaces and amplified his personal aesthetic on developing new ones. Younger type designers should also think of newer ones.

Adrian Frutiger

37. Ivan Chermayeff: Abstract Is The New Shape

Abstracted shapes for logos can be the new norm to create impactful designs.

Ivan Chermayeff

38. Peter Saville: Bold And Expressive

Iconic record and album cover designer, his expressive style gives a new standard to design.

Peter Saville

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39. Wolfgang Weingart: New Typography

Best described for spontaneous Swiss design and dramatic sans serif type, radical experiment with typography can create new trend.

Wolfgang Weingart

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40. Bradbury Thompson: Be Experimental

Pushing the envelope beyond the described norms, his experimentation with photography, type and color has inspired a generation of designers.

Bradbury Thompson


A deeper look at the works of these legendary graphic designers can inspire you to come out with something unique and pathbreaking. Just as you see their design works, you learn many things about concepts, and how to execute concepts into wonderful designs.

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