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What Was Your Greatest Graphic Design Mistake?

What was your greatest graphic design mistake? Nearly every graphic designer has made a mistake at some point – a typo, perhaps, or forgetting to delete a template layer before printing. To err is human, after all. I’d like to know what your greatest graphic design mistake was.

First, I’ll share mine. It was with a small local paper I co-owned, and we were putting together our very first issue. We had a head start, and we weren’t sure which date we would be publishing so I placed four question marks in the corners of the pages. As time went by and the paper filled, I became so accustomed to seeing those question marks that I didn’t register them -€“ even when it was time to proof for print. Thus, you can imagine my horror when we picked up the papers from the printers two days later -€“ all 24 pages on all 10,000 issues with question marks where the dates should have been!

wrong_way_sign

Shocked and embarrassed, I worked with the printing company for a discount on the order and got a comp rush applied to a reprint -€“ this time with the correct dates. Fortunately, my mistake only cost us a few hundred dollars, but it could have been much worse.

Making mistakes is part of the process, whatever the process is: graphic design, business, life. It’s not so terrible that you make mistakes, but that you learn from them. Never again will I forget the dates; in fact, never again will I use filler text that doesn’t at least make sense if not removed. Trust me.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and don’t be afraid to take risks. Push the creativity envelope. If you want to make a name for yourself, fear of mistakes shouldn’t set you back. And when you make them -€“ and you will make them -€“ learn from them. Take time to analyze what went wrong, and how you could have better prepared to avoid it. This is how you grow as a designer, as a person.

Now, it’s your turn. What was your greatest graphic design mistake? Did you design a logo that looked like the wrong end of a pig? Did you send a direct-mail piece that offered a $100 item for free? Did you print a poster with the wrong directions?

Share your mistakes in the comments, and let’s all have a good laugh -€“ not at you, but with you, because we’ve all made similar mistakes. And, indeed, it is possible to learn from others’ mistakes.

Brian Morris writes for the PsPrint Design & Printing Blog. PsPrint is an online commercial printing company. Follow PsPrint on Twitter @PsPrint


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Filed in: Design Tags: design mistakes, Graphic design, graphic mistakes

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8 Responses to "What Was Your Greatest Graphic Design Mistake?"

  1. Donald Quixote from Stevens-Henager College says:

    Hey Brian,
    I actually had a similar experience!! Instead of the date not being filled in, we completely forgot to put in page numbers. How does that even happen?! Truly a horrifying mistake, but we all must learn and grow!

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    • Page numbers and dates are both such little things, but they can be so visible. In the case of the missing dates, at least you were able to recognize the error before they were all sent out. A lot of places that do mass printing will catch those errors though and ask if you really intended them to be that way, so there’s that at least!

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  2. David
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hey Brain,
    I have made a lot of mistakes when I was new in this field but after some experience, I got trained to make creative and attractive logo designs. Finally I am a experienced designer.

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  3. Jennifer says:

    My mistake ended up on The Tonight Show! I was working at a small-town newspaper, and I was on deadline. The top story was about a longtime librarian — a staple of the town — receiving recognition for her service. (Like I said, it was a small town.) I meant to type in a headline stating “Librarian Honored for Tireless Work,” but instead I typed in “Librarian Honored for Tiresome Work.” I received a VERY stern talking-to the next day, and the editor fought the publisher to keep my job. Just as the embarrassment died down, my editor called me into his office to ask me if I’d watched The Tonight Show the night before. Darn you, Jay Leno!

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  4. Donald Quixote from Printing Services says:

    ha ha yikes! that is scary! The question marks could have cost you a lot. That is super good that it all turned out okay. This is actually something that scares me a little bit. One small mistake can become pretty costly, pretty fast. Interesting read!

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  5. Thanks for sharing your great graphic design mistake Brian! And you are right we could always learn from others mistakes.

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  6. That’s one reason I love working in teams, we proofread each other’s work so that we avoid embarrassing mistakes. Granted, every once in a while, we’ll let one slip, but it’s not usually a huge mistake. Numbers are tricky, making sure you typed the right amount. Thank s for sharing!

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  7. Kevin Davis says:

    This reminds me a lot of all the translation errors you see at foreign restaurants. Some times you just have to learn to laugh at your mistakes and learn from them.

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