David Airey is an independent graphic designer working with companies of all sizes since 2005.

Your favourite creative quotes?

Graphic design quote

What are your favourite creative quotes? Words that inspire you to be creative, to get up and do something. Have you coined a phrase or paragraph that you’d like to share?

I was participating in an online critique of a budding designers’ work. Bluntly, it was beyond repair and I recommended a return to the drawing board rather than polishing the turd.

The polishing term was offered in one comment, and that got be thinking.

I’m piecing together some design quotes to include in my blog footer. There’s a nice plugin I’ve installed for WordPress called the Random Quote Plugin. You enter a number of quotes via the admin and it generates a random one to display every time the page is refreshed.

Fitting graphic design quote

There are currently just a handful of quotes that I’ve entered, but what I’d love is to create a list full of your inspiring quotes, giving you a little extra online exposure.

What I can do is make your name (such as David Reddig’s above) clickable to a web address of your choice, but as your quote(s) will appear on over 150 pages of this blog I’m a little worried it might harm my Google juice (Andy Beard wrote an interesting post about linking to external sites in every page of your site — maybe you know something about this?).

Update: 22 August 2007
Since publishing this post I’ve changed my blog layout, removing the random quote generator Plugin.

Regardless, share your words of wisdom and I’ll show the best on more than 150 pages. If you prefer, offer up your favourite quotes from others.

My second book on Amazon

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75 appreciated comments about “Your favourite creative quotes?”

  1. It is not quite as simple, because people are typically including the link on pages that human don’t see, such as all your archives.

    I like having those pages indexed, but I try hard to avoid too many external links on them.

    A “halfway house” option is to use some logic, such is is_page() and is_home() – on my site that would cut down the number of indexed pages that have the links by 80%

    I still share link juice from pages that are gaining links, thus the overall balance of what goes out is the the same as what comes in, it is just distributed to everyone more fairly.

    Here is a phrase I use that I coined
    “90% of the world’s human population are herd animals, not far removed from sheep and cattle”

    People tend to buy brands rather than quality – brands can be quality, and quality products don’t have to be branded. An example might be how many people prefer the taste of Pepsi but when asked which they prefer, most reply Coke.

  2. David;

    Here is one I made up:

    Great minds sync alike


  3. Thanks for that explanation, Andy. Good point about leaving your archives out of it. The only thing with my quote plugin placement is that it’s in the footer – shown on every last page.

    Mike, I’ve added your quote to my site along with Andy’s.

    Keep them coming folks!

  4. Cool David!

  5. Not necessarily a “creative” quote but it’s what I wrote down on my office white board to keep myself inspired and working hard on my side projects:

    “What do you really want?”

    Simple but it works for me. :)

  6. I wanted to comment on that site but it didn’t allow me. I don’t have WordPress but here is a quote that I really like:

    “Knowledge grows when shared.” – Bhartrihari (c 450-510)

  7. “You can’t polish a turd.” I love it! LOL

    I don’t have any of my own (design related) and I can’t think of any off the top of my head. Oh well. Great topic, seems like a fun plugin too.

  8. My life’s mantra (seeing that I have six kids)

    From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere

    Dr Seuss

  9. Thanks Bret, ilker, Dinner, I’ve added all your suggestions into the quote database.

    TPB – 6 kids! Were you born in Ireland by any chance? I’ve added your Dr Seuss comment too. Thanks for that.

  10. The “polishing a turd” saying is actually a popular one around where I live here in the States. Sometimes we use the saying to describe crappy design work but with a good pitch… “selling a polished turd.”

    I’ll have to get back to you on a good quote though. Good idea :)

  11. David – ha. Actually no. I’m second generation CDN with family from Sussex and Worcestershire. But my given name is Irish Gaelic so at least you’re 1/2 correct.

  12. David, I have uploaded a WordPress tip that may interest you. Its located at http://mareddy.com/lakblog/archives/120
    I have written this in response to your concern about including the quote in the footer in every page. you dont have to. You can limit this only to the first page, with the tip.
    Should you have any concerns, just let me know and I can help.

  13. PG, please do let me know if you can think of a quote for my blog.

    TPB, I knew there must be some Irish in there somewhere. ;)

    Lak, that’s great. Thanks a lot for letting me know about it. I’ll give it a try.

  14. I got one! I had to get some papers photocopied for work the other day, and on the back wall of the place it said,

    “Either we are all fools, or undiscovered geniuses.”

    Not sure of the name though (might not of had one lol) but I thought the quote was pretty cool.

  15. Nice one, Dinner.

    I’ll add that quote too. Thanks.

  16. As we shared in a previous post, one of my favorite quotes is:

    A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

  17. I just finished a painting of a rather intimidating-looking owl. Which brings to mind this quote by Picasso…”You know you’re almost finished a painting when you stop looking at it and it starts looking at you.” Something to that effect.

  18. David, heres a quote I like that is design related.
    “Creative without strategy is called ‘art’. Creative with strategy is called ‘advertising’.”
    Jef I. Richards

  19. Michael, Lakshmi, thanks for those.

    They’re both added to the quote collection and will appear below from time to time.

  20. Imagination is greater than knowledge…

  21. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

  22. Yorkali, Sujan, thanks for those two.

    I’m not sure who first said the Vegas quote so I’ve simply said, ‘Submitted by Sujan Patel’ beside it. Have you seen the any of the TV series from 2003? I haven’t but it gets 8.7 out of 10 on IMDB.

    The Imagination quote actually reads like this:

    “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

    It’s one of Einsteins and I’ve added it as such.

    Thanks again.

  23. Crap in – Crap out

    for the clients that deliver poor content or direction.

  24. Thanks Danno.

    I’ve added your quote.

  25. ‘Never put of until tomorrow, that which you can avoid altogether.’

    Has always worked for me ;-)

  26. Bo Sco Foe Joe No Croe Blow Coe Show Row

  27. One of my favorite quotes is:

    “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Albert Einstein

    There is a lot to think about with this quote, no one person I have ever talked to has came up with the same conclusion of what it means:)

    But I have it on a piece of paper next to my web design computer:)

  28. Love that quote from Einstein.

    Not really sure if this is fitting, but it’s something I have on my desk as a reminder: “Good. Cheap. Fast. Pick two”.

  29. “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” –William Wordsworth

  30. Hi One of my favourite quotes
    “Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take,but by the number of moments that take your breath away”.

  31. ‘Every part of me aches. Except for my hair.’

    Ade Adepitan, BBC presenter and wheelchair basketball player, on finishing the 2007 London Marathon.

  32. All entries have been added.


  33. “If you like overheads, you’ll love PowerPoint.”

    -Edward Tufte, presentation expert and outspoken critic of Microsoft PowerPoint

  34. “Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite”.

    Not only a memorable quote, but a great book on creative thinking.

    Another one, related to the book:
    “The problem with making sensible decisions is that so is everyone else.”

  35. Well, my favourite quote of all time is the first one on your list, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

    So I’ll submit my own:
    “Knowledge comes from Inspiration – one bit at a time.”
    - Vivien

  36. I like these:

    “Every author in some way portrays himself in his works, even if it be against his will.” – Goethe

    “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster.” – Nietzsche

    “You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star.” – Nietzsche

    “In heaven all the interesting people are missing.” – Nietzsche

  37. Thanks everyone!

    I’ve just updated the quotes with your latest submissions.

  38. “Do or Do not. There is no try.” ~Yoda

  39. The turd one is a classic.
    However, this one might not have the same impact in Japan. The Japanese character for ‘lucky’ is very similar to the character for ‘turd’ – this one can be polished: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ek20070320wh.html

    I hasten to add that I do not or never will own one of these.

  40. Yours is added, DT. Thanks for that.


    What a strange link! Here’s a quote from it which I found amusing:

    Although they’re made of real porcelain and coated with 24-karat gold, Kin no Unko products retail from just 105 yen for a mini poo to 2,100 yen for the big dump, which sits proudly on a silky red cushion.


  41. …only in Japan. I wonder if there’s a market for them outside of Japan? You could have them as prizes for the best quote ;)

  42. If you help enough people get what they want, you’ll get what you want.

  43. I don’t know why I keep coming back to this one:

    Art is either plagiarism or revolution. – Paul Gauguin, French post-impressionist painter

    Makes me think of all those logos that look so similar. I suppose it’s possible to arrive at the same conclusion for a given problem, but I hate it when people try to sell other people’s ideas as their own.

  44. Scot, Lauren Marie,

    Thanks very much for those, which I’ve added.

    Scot, is that your own quote?

  45. “graphic design will save the world right after rock and roll does.” David Carson

  46. Two that I like:

    “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” – Leonardo da Vinci

    “In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.”
    - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  47. In theory, there is no difference between practice and theory…but in practice, there is!

  48. This is above my desk at work:

    “Too many people think that success is a matter of luck – of being in the right place, at the right time, or of knowing the right person. That’s bullshit. Success is the result of proper planning, training, execution, and follow-through — not luck. If you sit on your ass and wait for luck to bring you success, you’ll die poor.” – Richard Marcinko

    He’s a former U.S. Navy SEAL who has also written business leadership books.

  49. I like,

    “The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little bit extra”.

    On an unrelated note, I also like this one by Dolly Parton:

    “I’m not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I’m not dumb… and I also know that I’m not blonde.”

  50. “Lukewarm is probably the worst of all the temperatures.”

    (Referring to anything that’s really rather average.)

  51. I like,

    Trust but verify.

  52. I live by this quote.

    “Keep It Simple Stupid”

  53. Water? No thank you! Fish make love in it.

    Dr. Marcus Brody – Indiana Jones and the Lost Ark.

  54. 1999 – Will Work For Links
    2003 – Will Work For Comments

    Maybe the years need changing? 1999 Is google’s new approach to searching and 2003 is the move to Web 2.0, social networks.

  55. here is my favourite ….

    “The artist who makes himself accessible is self-destructive.”

    HOWARD BARKER (b. 1946) British Playwright. Times, London (January 3, 1990)

  56. Hi David,
    One day I was having “one of those mornings”. I finally made it to one of my regular coffee houses where I was recognized and happily greeted with “Good morning, David, how are you?”. And these words just poured out of my mouth without hesitation:

    “I was having a WONDERFUL morning until I began intermingling with people.”

    Now this does not sound much like a “creative” quote, but if you turn it around…

    “I was having a lousy morning until I began intermingling with people”.

    Speaking of “recognized”, one time I went into another of my regular coffee houses and was greeted with “Hi, David, a large coffee?” to which I replied, “yes, thank you. Ahhh, it’s always nice to be recognized. Unless it’s off the internet or a picture hanging in the post office.”

    Where would we be without the smiles…

  57. Thanks everyone!

    All the quotes above this comment are added to the database and will appear randomly in the footer, with your name and web address (if given).


    Where indeed would we be without the smiles?

  58. * itz a funny thing about life…if u refuse to accept anything but the best, u very often get it….

  59. Its ok to be differrent… just dont lose yourself in the process

  60. “Think BIG, Think FAST, Think AHEAD, Ideas are no one s Monoply”

  61. “Great design and copy is a little like obscenity you cant define it but you know it when you see it.”
    “Design without strategy is only art.”
    The Baldchemist

  62. You should be the change you wish to see in the world.

  63. FEAR of HEIGHTS is ONLY because you FEAR to FALL!!!


  65. The bitter thing about lie is that it is sweet to hear.

  66. “The Pencil is mightier than the mouse.” ME

  67. Mike, I hear you with that one.

    Great entries, everyone, and thanks for commenting. It’s very much appreciated!

  68. “Simplify, simplify, simplify, then simplify again.” Me.

    For graphic designers.

  69. I’ll quote you on that, Pat.

  70. “Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” Charles Mingus quotes (American jazz bassist and Composer, 1922-1979)

  71. “You don’t choose your passions; your passions choose you.”
    — Jeff Bezos

    “All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.”
    — Edmund Burke

    Whatever the occasion, Winston Churchill is always inspiring: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/w/winston_churchill.html

  72. Thanks a lot, Miguel, Dave.

    I particularly like the one about our passions choosing us.

  73. Art is like masturbation. It is selfish and introverted and done for you and you alone. Design is like sex. There is someone else involved, their needs are just as important as your own, and if everything goes right, both parties are happy in the end. – Colin Wright

  74. I just made this up, it is possible that there are similar ones out there but oh well.

    “Abstinence without temptation is no more impressive than intellect without ambition.”

  75. Science is a man-made religion of faith in today’s knowledge.

    by, Wg Williams

Anything to add?

Comments may be edited or deleted if I don't like the cut of your jib, but that's quite unlikely.