Is all design looking the same to you? Are you following graphic design trends subconsciously?
These are two questions to ponder over the next four weeks in this four part series showcasing the most used techniques, effects, icons, shapes, concepts, fonts, stock images and clichés used in design today.
The Four Part Series
- Top 7 Most Overused Techniques & Elements Used in Graphic Design
- Top 7 Most Overused Icons / Shapes Used in Graphic Design
- Top 7 Fonts Used by Professionals In Graphic Design
- Top 7 Most Overused Stock Images Used in Web Design
Below is the second article of four.
Top 7 Most Overused Icons / Shapes / Symbols Used in Graphic Design
In the last article, we looked at some of the most used design elements, in this one we go a bit further and look at particular shapes / icons / symbols that always seem to appear in graphic design related work, usually because of their perceived semiotics.
These icons / shapes / symbols are neither ‘good or bad’, however they are the most common found in today’s designs. Vector stock images have been used to portray each element for simplicities sake.
The good ol’ heart is by far the most used icon in design. Made famous by Milton Glaser’s I Heart NY design, the heart can now be found everywhere. The heart has long been used as a symbol to refer to the spiritual, emotional, moral, and in the past, intellectual core of a human being and is the most well known symbol to represent love.
On the other end of the scale we have the infamous skull. The skull is a symbol of death and rebellion and seems to find its way onto many clothing and music related designs. Wouldn’t you agree?
The use of wings in a design is usually used to portray freedom as people associate wings with angels and birds. Wings also have the perceived values of hope, speed, elevation, enlightenment, guidance, protection and inspiration. Wings are found very often in tattoo designs and are all too often, used in combination with skulls and crests as seen in the pictures above and below.
Heraldry / Crests
Wikipedia defines Heraldry as the “practice of designing, displaying, describing, and recording coats of arms and badges. The origins of heraldry lie in the need to distinguish participants in combat when their faces are hidden by iron and steel helmets.” Perhaps this is why crests come up so often in designs (especially tattoos), they distinguish one from another… or does it?
The lightglobe is all too often used to portray an idea, creativity, innovation or something new. Don’t get stuck into using these cliches, get creative.
Stylised arrows seem to make their way into many designs without real need. They do however, get the point across (no pun intended) – they make you look where the arrow is pointing and they give a sense of motion to a design.
Silhouetted City Skylines
City skylines are usually very complex so this is a clever and simple technique used in designs to give the location of the scene without making the design too complex which is why it used so often.
The main point that I want to portray by outlining these overused elements, is to try to encourage people to use these effects in a manner that suits the design, not just because they are available. Be imaginative and creative and always make an educated choice in your designs.
Do you agree? Do these symbols come up too often in designs? Why do you think so? What other ones would you add to this list? Voice your opinions below.