How to Avoid the Most Embarrassing Graphic Design Mistakes

Catastrophic design mistakes can occur in that moment when you are so confident that your graphic design is perfect and you fail to take one last critical look. It happened to huge ad companies working on corporate projects with worldwide exposure, so this occurrence is way more common than you’d think.

However, this is not an excuse for ever committing it and then claiming membership in this select club. Behold, then, what to look for, at least one more time, before you commit a design for print or web publishing. We listed the mistakes in a crescendo of seriousness, so the best (or worst) is at the very bottom.

Stickman In the Logo

Using a stickman in your graphic design sounds a good idea for various logos: dental practices, dance classes, bus signs for reserved seats. However, since the design is limited to a few simple lines (that’s why we call it a stickman), hilarious and embarrassing combinations are extremely frequent. Here are just two examples:

Clinica-Dental      Kudawara-jaracu

Do you see what we mean? Unfortunately, it is very hard to avoid these types of visual interpretations, so just say no to Mr. Stickman in your designs.

The Annoying Tangents

Tangents occur when two graphic elements of contrasting colors are right next to each other or distanced by a few pixels. The overall effect is that people will be focused on the connecting line between the two shapes which will become more annoying the more they look at it.

To avoid this, you have two options: either make the two elements overlap each other, or put sufficient distance between them to make them look like two separate objects in the visual field.

Vibrating Colors

When you have one item circumscribed inside another and each of the items has a strong color, the resulting effect is that of vibrating colors, which is extremely unpleasant and tiring to the eye. Some of the most annoying color combinations are:

  • red and green

  • green and pink

  • blue and yellow

  • red and blue

Just a few seconds of looking at these color combinations are enough to give you a feeling of nausea and vertigo.

Negative Space

This is the space between main design elements or typeface letters in large headlines. Look closely at this space and make sure that there is no embarrassing shape emerging. If necessary, apply grayscale or negative colors to your design, but do not create a design that will end up on “funny fail of the day” websites. See this example:


Those are two dancers, right? Yes, but in negative space we see a totally different image….


Kerning is the typographic process of adjusting distance between the letters in a word. Depending on the typeface, letters need a larger or smaller space between them, so manual adjustment is mandatory for any special font that you use. Without proper kerning, some letter will be so close together that they will seem to form one different letter, with catastrophic results, as seen below:

finalregistration  walmartclick

These graphic design mistakes can be avoided in a very simple way – double check by yourself or ask a friend to look at your work before you submit it to the client.

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Ionut B
Digital Art Director with an innovative creative thinking able to translate ideas and concepts into useful and memorable interactive marketing campaigns.

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