A very common cliché seen in corporate print material as well as websites is the use of stock photography; the subject matter of said photography is usually smiling business people of diverse ethnicities, selling you everything from internet and cell-phone service to pharmaceutical drugs. You’ve seen these people locked in eternal smile in dozens of advertisements on the subway, on tv, and in magazines. Maddox, of internet-trolling fame, gives use a not-so-insightful, yet rather humorous description of the semantic relationships these stock images have in relation to the text-content of advertisements.

Check it out here: http://www.thebestpageintheuniverse.net/c.cgi?u=stock_photos

Be warned: the site above is definitely not safe for work, uses rather vulgar language quite frequently, and should in no way ever be used as an academic resource.



As we all know, there are many clichés and faux pas in both print and web design work that irk and upset both the design savvy and non-design savvy alike. Designers often react to these clichés with sneers, rude gestures, and loud commentary. Both Modern Life and Underconsideration have great lists that include—but are not limited to—some classic clichés such as rampant diagonal lines, the always horrible wet-floor effect, pixel fonts (which I am totally guilty of abusing), swirls and drips, cartoon mascots, textured backgrounds, globe and compass icons, computer code speak, and the dreaded ‘swoosh.’

The three lists linked to include some of the biggest perpetrators, however I have listed a few more for your pleasure.

1. Hand-written type
Hand-written type has become synonymous with naive, child-like, and hipster-cool.

2. The White Box website
For some reason, a ridiculous number of graphic designers’ portfolios follow the template of having just a white background with small text links on the left side of the screen and image on the right.

3. Distressed/Graffiti-esque type
“Grunge” typography has been, and will be, around for a really long time. Unfortunately.

4. Shepard Fairey’d
Once considered an underground, rebellious street-artists, Shepard Fairey is loved by all, even the government Fairey is rebelling against. Now, everyone is riding the OBEY wave, from Facebook photos to billboard ads to Optimus Prime.

5. Helvetica Bold
The most popular, most  clichéd typeface of all time.

6. Rounded edges, and the Apple-esque
Many—if not every—website nowadays seems to conform to the web 2.0 standard of rounding off the corners of each and every rectangular box on screen. This is epitomized by Apple’s style that is copied over and over again in advertisements and posters. How many more iProducts must we suffer before the fad dies?

That’s all I’ve got for now. Be sure to look for a  Clichés Continued post in the future.


{Heads up: This is a long, non-illustrated essay-of-a-post and may be boring to non-designers.}

The moment I knew I wanted to become a designer was the moment I first acknowledged the poster designs of the Swiss De Stijl movement. Yes, I had seen some of those iconic posters as a young lad, however, I had not truly acknowledged them as pieces of design. Once I learned the basic principles of typography and layout, the beauty of Swiss modernist design really shone and spoke out to me; I am sure that this happens to many, if not all, aspiring and current graphic designers. The use of simplified form, simplified type, and logical layout in De Stijl, as well as Bauhaus posters was—and still is—utterly captivating. I knew then not only that I too wanted to make graphic works of art, but that my mentors would be the modernists of the 1900’s.

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A little while ago, I posted my response to Ken Garland’s First Things First manifesto written in 1964, about how graphic designers need to be more conscious of projects they take on. Garland tried to push designers to use their powers for good, as opposed to evil; he defines “evil” as rampant consumerism.

My beef with Garland’s manifesto was:
1) It was based on speculation and not fact.
2) It was based in circular logic—designers needed to try and change society, yet society needed to change in order for designers to help it.

Thirty-six years later, design writer, Rick Poynor, was approached by Adbusters to write a contemporary version of Garland’s manifesto, aptly titled, First Things First 2000. Poynor’s new manifesto solves a few of the old one’s problems.

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There is a very cool post over at a blog called Design*Sponge on Art Nouveau monograms designed in 1908 by Paul Starke. The images on the post come from a book called Modern Monogramme by Starke. The images below have just been copied from the Design*Sponge post.

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