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Dec 03, 2006



This is incredibly true.

john carroll

ah i feel sain now - thanks for that =)


yes yes and more yes. we are a fine obsessive bunch.


I can relate to many . .. especially obsessively photographing signs . .. and collecting and printing wooden type . ..
beautiful story :)

Janie Perez

This is great! I have the exact same passion but with no actual real-world experience *until i graduate high school* :P Very Inspirational!!

Ben H



thank you. You speak the truth.


I'm not a designer,

and I do all of these things.

I also have a digital font collection numbering 20-odd thousand.

Maybe I sat next to a designer on a bus one day, and caught it from them....


Oh God, yes I can relate to all this.
My friend emailed me the link, after she spent a weekend with me walking around Sydney with a camera taking photos of numbers and letters and quirky urban details.
I forwarded the link to my boyfriend, so he can see that I'm not the only graphic designer wierdo out there. Look at you all, you're everywhere!!!! I KNEW I wasn't alone!!




sweet jesus

James Reeve

I thought it was just me! I critique everything I see. I just hate bad design.


Haha... Yes we all have it. It got so bad with me that I could not live in the house that we originally bought. There where so many flaws in the design of it that I had to design my own house. It's almost done being built.

When you're a designer you want all of your spaces to flow visually, mentally and physically.

I noticed a comment above about a wife thinking that her husband is the only one like that. I'm going to have to print this off and show my wife too.

Thanks for posting this and getting everyone to discuss.



This is so stupid. Who fucking cares about this shit? Of course if you're a designer you're going to look at stuff that way but I think romanticizing it or calling it a disease is so corny it made me throw up in my mouth a little.

paul merrill

You live in England, Mr Noisy Decent.

If you moved to Africa, you'd die of frustration - so many violations of the rules we learned and are in our designers' hearts.

But the chaos can be glorious at times.

Go to my blog to see some examples of both.


bravo. J'adore ce post!


It helps you rationalize things too.

For example, when I was a kid I was always very aware that some books were easier to read then others, some made me tired and I just fell asleep. No one else talked about this so I thought there was something wrong with me.

It wasn't me, it was the line lengths.



Thanks. You woke up the little boy in me.
Sometimes it helps to be reminded of where you started - and where you should be going. This post did it for me!
Actually, it was the four-emu's bottle: I've seen this bottle a few times in bottle-shops and said to myself, "Now, THAT is a bottle I'd buy". Not to drink, just to have the bottle with the cool label. OCD? Hoarder? No, just fixated by all things different - particularly that gate!

Amanda Miller

I absolutely love that gate.. and this entire post, really. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one that critiques everything I see. Haha.


OH MY GOSH. this is amazing... my friends get so annoyed with me when we go out because i'm critquing EVERYTHING around me. sometimes i wonder if i'll ever be able to just read a magazine again without obsessing about the type of paper its printed on/the masthead/the column layout/etc.


Great post, I totally agree with you.
I ain’t alone getting crazy then!


Sometimes a visit to the mall after a hole day of designing can be like a migrain I cant filter out the designs all around me. I scream cause i cant look away from a poster ,pointing out the design elements trying to make a mental photocopy of it.. on the other hand, when i got designers block a quick trip to the mall will cure it.


My name is Mandy and I have got the bug too :)


I’ve tried to avoid joining in, but there is something I find worryingly troubling. It’s all because of improvements at work. New elevators have been installed. So new flooring has been laid. I didn’t see the flooring people at work, but it irks me they didn’t line up the join in the floor with the join in the elevator doors. I’m sure they had good, pragmatic, practical reasons, but it bothers me. Every time I walk up the stairs. Hopefully, now I’ve got it off my chest, I can move on.
The pictures are here: http://tinyurl.com/382op4

Matic Leban

True, true... :) It's funny, sometimes disturbing, but hey - in the end it's a joy and a gift.

Bunmi D

Loves it! I am also a Graphic Designer, I would say a cutting edge Graphic Designer. I love beautiful things, so when I design, no matter the look I want, my designs always appear with a touch of beauty and uniqueness, very easy on the Eyes. I would sometimes leave my House to travel all the way to London, and take pictures, pictures of anything, it could be a wrapping paper, just anything. As I am also a Writer, collecting items gives me visions on my writing, it allows me to be very creative, I gave myself a rule years ago, the rule was to have no laws in my creativities. So yes, I do feel you...

i heart joan

That was brilliant, I am exactly like that and everyone thinks I'm mad xx

jessica v

i started to think i was crazy a few years ago - didn't know what it was. i'm a graphic designer as well, and as soon as i started meeting others i realized we're all crazy - in a good way.

great post though - you summed it all up perfectly


Heh. That sure speaks about us. This may just be the best article I've read in ages...
well, that goes for a ctrl+D hehe


Totally right on -- you've nailed it. I remember years ago I switched to Pepsi when they changed to the logo with the horizontal lines and then when they changed it, I switched back to Coke. It IS a disease...that is dis-ease at the sight of bad design...and addiction to the stunning visual.


Oh Ben.

Spot the injury to the retinas in this one.

'If you're lucky you're friends and family will pick up on this and if you're lucky you'll get things like this for Christmas'

Tell me it was deliberate!


However there is another illness spreading like wildfire, its spores emanating from exactly those Photoshop-between-phonecall humans you mention...

Symptoms include:

1) using more than one exclamation mark.
2) doing this: '......' when '...' IS THE ONLY WAY.
3) using 'alright'. It's not all right.
4) Including BTW and BFN in formal correspondence.
I shan't go on, I'm getting a headache.


I forgot to say, excellent reading Ben - I laughed heartily. What nice people designers are; gentle, collecting, colour-sensitive people prone only to bursts of inner rage.

Can you imagine the chaos in a world without them? That would be a good, apocalyptic blog.


As a graphic designer in India, i am exposed to a lot of so called bad design. From Puncture repair shops to your local food joint.
But is it really a problem?
See, i believe that design is something that helps solve a certain problem not that its an integral part of the solution.
For example, the mechanic down the road cannot afford a well designed banner or ad etc. He has to suffice with a hand painted. 3 feet sign placed in front of his shop (complete with paint blobs and drips). But that doesn't mean his business will suffer!
Imagine a world without designers!
Suddenly there is no kerning or balance!
We help people solve problem, thats it.

al woods

Spot on brother!!

Not sure about storing things alphabetically as I kinda enjoy half knowing where THAT postcard is amongst a pile of other THAT postcards.

Also agree with Inkymole, I'm a big fan of so-called bad design. Not design that is done badly by some punk who thinks he's a designer because he was bought a mac for christmas, but the design that is done by hand by people who know no better. Hand painted signs that are purely there to serve a purpose are cooooool. I'd love to see pics of this guy's garage sign(s).


I always buy branded wine and also read labels carefully that we know that how much alcohol is in that wine.


You'll never be able to look at the back of a Vauxhall Corsa either.

Suzanne of New Affiliate Discoveries

Great, great post! I linked to it from this week's "sunday seven". Thanks for the design inspiration.


Oh lord. I am sick sick sick. And I know there is no cure.

Wouldn't take it if there was one anyway.


wow i'm sick too, but i love be sick like that. brilliant post

Chris Piascik

Amazing. I am very sick.. and I am not sure if I will make it.

Gustavo Cruz

Hey great post man, Now i can finally understand myself sadly i may be very sick as u called it, but great work


You sicko. And I thought I was the only one.
I buy cans of peas, olives and fruit just for the label design. Sometimes I don't care what's inside and keep it for years and look at it. I have to use PCs in my work but at home I use Macs because I like the way someone actually thought about the box and the gui. I'm an electronics engineer and when prototyping I pick resistors for their colour, not value, and all the components have to line up. Guess I got in the wrong stream at school.


brilliant! i'm sending this to probably 20 people right now that think i'm insane because i've got boxes of plastic bubble machine bubbles, a box full of old playgirls from 1978, and a neon floral muumuu in my office. thanks for a good laugh!


A great work - very sick - but great :)


hm. i don't collect anything. but my mind feels cluttered.

i think i have design.

David Webb

Great photos!

Shahana Mehta

I know what ure talking about...I can so relate to this...great images and even better story writing skills...Hope I can read more from you...cheers!


Thank you for this,

I was actually going through a bit of a self doubt about whether Graphic Design was the career for me but after reading this I know I can't do anything else! Thank you!


lack of [or strangely appropriate'd] apostrophes do something similar to me. but only in signs.


That's awesome! It really inspires me. So don't think of it as a disease. Instead you should keep it up. Seeing your obsessions towards Graphic really makes me wanna work harder to pursue my dream. Thanks!


Reading this was just awesome. I can't count the number of times I've stopped to look at signage or type or design out in the wild.

People I know give me funny looks, sometimes.

But if it's a disease, I don't want to know the cure.


That is so totaly me. It's just that... it would be so nice to be sick together))) I believe I'm nearly the only one that bad in my small Russian town. Still luckily there's no cure!


That post has really fired up and also made me wonder why I don't take more pictures and that I should ignore by boyfriends comments on my hoarding! It's need! It mustn't be stifled! Grr! That really fired the flames of my passion. One to read when you need to discover the inner designer again every now and then...


Oh this is such a good post! I have the same thing except with film work. I think it is our passion that we think about all the time.

Dawn Hancock, Firebelly Design

Ha! It's so true... I will forward on to all my non-designer friends who just think I'm OCD.

Japanese words

Great article. I don't think I have the disease, but some of the sign were annoying. The pedestrian one was rediculous.


well said!!!!


I'm a designer and you're a complete dork.


Brilliant. My life, your words...

graham peake




This goes up on my top 5 list of greatest posts about what I love along with Mike Dempsey's 'From Caveman to Spray Can'.



I'm not even allowed to GO shopping anymore, it takes three hours minimum for me and any seemingly innocent bystanders to make a circuit in the supermarket. With just a few million dollars all those branding atrocities could be healed...

Caryn Caldwell

Oh, I LOVED this post! I'm not a designer, but I'm fascinated by fonts and colors and shapes. I'm really obsessed by wording, though. I empathize with what you wrote up there because how you feel about graphic design is how I feel about writing. And it sometimes feels like so few people truly understand.

Josh Kleckner

I wish I hadn't ever read about typography. It only makes this disease worse.


Alysha Balog

When ever I'm home from school, I find my friends and family understand less and less what I see and what I think when in the world. Letters and colors so astounding. This here is it and few appriciate how unnoticed and effective it is.


Great post and a great insight into your personal collection of inspirations captured from the world at large. I'm a writer, and I often notice things about words and writing that others don't, so I can relate to this completely.

Michele Sleighel

I am 22. I have loved design since I was 16. The disease makes my brain constantly active. I haven't been able to look at newspapers or magazines without intensity since the disease hit.
Worded perfectly. Exactly. How do I make all of these things into my own something beautiful?


Goodness yes. Thank you.

buy generic viagra

That really fired the flames of my passion. One to read when you need to discover the inner designer again every now and then.


well, my wife thinks I am a hoarder, but I think it is proof that I am a designer :) and you just proved me right, thx


Considering that the epidermis is known as the major organ inside the body, it really is popular for several allergens to lead to a negative reaction to the skin.


This is the best post I've ever read, so true and so spot on!


One of the most common design mistakes is substituting inch and foot marks for quotation marks and apostrophes. It drives me crazy!

I’m sure Ben would never do this. ;-)


I played in the first game of our football season yesterday morning and saw something that reminded me of your post and how I also have this 'disease'.

This year we've been supplied a new kit and Im a right back and normally get given the number 4 shirt but to my horror when the manager handed me the shirt the number 4 on the back was both not horizontal and completely off centre!

Clearly it was only me that picked up on the fact that it was so off centre that I felt like i'd have to run with a lean or add a 0 to the left to compensate for it, nobody else even batted an eyelid!

Problem is, it bothered me so much so that I had to ask for another shirt.... so now i'm playing in #25!


Just found this article from way back in 2006 - and I can confirm I still suffer from the design disease. It's terminal infact.

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