Graphic design inspiration: 15 amazing designers you should know

 Alice Jackson
  Aug 29, 2018

The graphic design industry has been evolving for decades with some great designers contributing significantly to the industry. If you’re embarking on a career in this industry by sending a brilliant design portfolio or successfully converting an internship into a job, a dose of inspiration is what you need to hone your skills.

There is hardly any better way to inspire you than to see some great designs of great designers. Knowing them will not only accelerate your creative juices but compel you to design your own masterpiece.

From Paul Rand to Milton Glaser, Saul Bass, Alan Fletcher and more, our list features 15 famous graphic designers whose work will surely inspire you.

1. Paul Rand

The world of graphic designs is incomplete without Paul Rand. He is best known for his corporate logo designs for biggies like IBM, UPS, ABC, NeXT and more. In fact, Paul developed new methods for advertising, logo creation, and designing. Removing copywriting from the fundamental position in design was one of his greatest legacies. He emphasized placing it on the same tier as design and making it simpler.

2. Alan Fletcher

Alan Fletcher transformed the way design was created. He is known for his expressive typography, strong visuals, and bold colors. Fletcher worked on a variety of projects from book covers to posters and corporate identities. Some of his best works include V&A logo, Reuters logo, Beware Wet Paint screen-print, London Bus Advert: Pirelli Slippers and more. According to him, graphic design isn't just an ornamental extra but a vital element to businesses.

3. Milton Glaser

When it comes to creating a powerful yet timeless design, Milton Glaser’s name is worth mentioning. From iconic I ♥ NY branding design for Target and JetBlue to the poster designs for musician Bob Dylan, and opening title sequence of Mad Men, his work speaks loudly about his creativity. He also created the main logo of DC Comics used between 1977 and 2005. The cursive ‘B’ logo creation for the Brooklyn Brewery earned him shares in the company! That’s the power of his designs.

4. Saul Bass

Saul Bass has etched his name among the most admired graphic designers of the 20th century. During the 1950s he designed many iconic movie posters and created several film title sequences with famous directors like Alfred Hitchcock and others. You can see his creative side in movies like Psycho, North by Northwest and The Man with the Golden Arm. It was his creativity that elevated this young designer's stature in the industry.

Besides, Bass was also an expert logo designer. He has designed a plethora of timeless brand logos including AT&T, Kleenex, Girl Scout and more.

5. Paula Scher

She’s probably the most celebrated female graphic designer in the world. Scher was also the first woman who acquired a principal position at Pentagram— a reputed graphic design firm. Her inspiring graphic design ideas shaped the observation and application of design in many ways, specifically her technique to treat type as a visual image. Her work for the New York City’s Public Theatre still grabs attention and continues to leave a lasting impression on modern design.

6. Stefan Sagmeister

Austria-born Stefan is an accomplished designer known for his outstanding work in the music industry. His client list includes biggest names like HBO, Guggenheim and The Rolling Stones. Sagmeister is famous for blending sexuality, humor, eccentric and painstaking elements to create ground-shaking modern designs.

7. David Carson

Carson’s typography designs express ideas and exert emotions. His rule-breaking approach towards design earned him the title ‘’The Godfather of Grunge”. His layout designs in warped, shredded, and sometimes illegible forms remain to be a constant source of inspiration for designers all over the world.

Carson has worked with almost all the big brands in the industry including Pepsi Cola, Nike, Ray-Ban (orbs project), Microsoft, Giorgio Armani, Budweiser, NBC, AT&T Corporation, American Airlines, British Airways, Levi Strauss Jeans, Kodak, Lycra, Sony, Packard Bell, Suzuki, Warner Bros., Toyota, CNN, Johnson AIDS Foundation, Cuervo Gold, MTV Global, Intel, Prince, Fox TV, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, MGM Studios, Lotus Software, Quiksilver, and Nine Inch Nails.

8. Michael Bierut

Michael Beirut is often recognized for "democratizing design." He is known for adopting a unique and ubiquitous approach toward creative graphic designs. His impressive work earned him many accolades and gave him the opportunity to work with many prestigious brands.

9. Hermann Zapf

He transformed the typography in many ways. Primarily, Zapf was the inventor of the renowned typefaces Palatino, Zapf Dingbats, Optima and many others. He’s been a great advocate of moving from press printed designs to computerized ones. The credit of pioneering computerized typography goes to him.

10. Massimo Vignelli

Vignelli is one of the most potent designers of the past century. He was in favor of reducing large, busy ideas into more understandable and easy formats through creative designs. This idea can easily be seen in his redesign work of the New York City Subway Map in 1972. He adopted an experimental, abstracted design that irked some people at first but later proved highly effective.

11. Lester Beall

Beall is known for bringing forth the idea of treating graphic designers as creative problem solvers. His approach inspired many American businesses, and they started involving designers in the marketing department of their company. Throughout his design career, Lester used bold primary colors, lines and illustrative arrows in his designs that created his own identity. The creation of poster series for the United States Government’s Rural Electrification Administration gained him worldwide recognition. The poster is still considered timeless.

12. Jacqueline Casey

Born in 1927, Jacqueline Casey was one of the most influential graphic designers best recognized for her Swiss-inspired posters. Casey designed distinctive publicity posters for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Her posters consisted of a stunning image or bold typography and informational detail in the small text. Typographic wordplay and visual puns were also an integral part of her creations. Her designs are still considered inspirational.

13. Armin Hofman

Armin is dubbed as a legend of Swiss Design. He inspired designers of past and present with his simple but powerful designs. His work is known for its dependence on fundamental elements of graphic design— line, point, and shape.

14. Seymour Chwast

He is often regarded as a designer who formed contemporary design and illustration. His expressive and iconic styles are known for neutralizing the clean, minimalist nature of Swiss design with a bold approach. Chwast's approach was based on knowledge, admiration, and reapplication of earlier styles and forms. Both his visual work and distinctive approach to graphic design have had lasting impacts on the industry.

15. Jon Contino

His illustration style is a unique combination of old and modern aesthetics. Contino has worked with big brands like Jack Daniels, Nike, and New Balance. His contemporary and minimalistic graphic design ideas have left a lasting impression on retail brands all around the globe.


The above list is just the tip of a massive glacier of names. However, the designers at Designhill have learned a lot from their work. If you ever feel running dry on inspiration, just follow these designers and motivate yourself.

Graphic design inspiration: 15 amazing designers you should know

Alice Jackson

Alice Jackson is a business consultant, blogger, social media enthusiast, online market analyst, amateur designer and an avid author at Designhill. She has written on several topics including social media marketing, SEO, content marketing, startup strategies and e-commerce. When she’s not writing, she loves spending her time reading romantic novels, creating new t-shirt designs.

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