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I know what most of you might be thinking…what in the world can a respectable graphic designer learn from a notorious hacker? But hold you horses everyone, don’t jump to conclusions just yet. Let me explain the purpose of my topic. I’m not implying that you go rogue and turn into a design outlaw. What I wish to establish is that “You can learn from anyone…even your enemy.”

We all are familiar with hackers and their work. A hacker is someone who thinks unconventionally and works with curiosity and ambition. He is someone who perceives rules as barriers to innovation. A hacker is a person who tests the freedom and limitation of systems to satisfy his curiosity. Now we don’t need to emulate the notorious actions of hackers, but we can surely learn from their positive points. Here are 5 things that graphic designers learn from hackers:


1. Think Outside the Box:

The first thing that graphic designers can learn from hackers is to think out-of-the-box. Hackers are people who wish to make a name by achieving the impossible. They desire accomplishing those feats that no one has ever achieved. In order to make that happen, they think out of the box and develop new tricks and techniques to tackle any barriers coming in their way. For them, creativity has no limits. Similarly, graphic designers should also come up with out-of-the-box solutions for their graphic design problems.

2. Break the Rules:

Now don’t get me wrong here, I don’t mean that graphic designers should go around breaking signals and others laws of the society. What I mean is that you should not blindly follow the conventions and trends prevalent in the graphic design industry. This doesn’t mean that graphic designers can go around stealing others work. On the contrary, it means that you don’t bound yourself with design trends and should strive for uniqueness. This reminds me of the theme of the movie Men of Honor…“History is made by those who break the rules.”

3. Curiosity to Explore:

There is one thing that you will find constant among every hacker…the curiosity to explore. It is this curiosity that drives them to explore the loopholes of the system and exploit them to their requirements. Arnold Edinborough once said, “Curiosity is the very basis of education and if you tell me that curiosity killed the cat, I say only the cat died nobly.” Graphic designers should also learn to be curious and inquisitive in nature. They should learn to explore every areas and realms of graphic designing in order to keep themselves up-to-date.

4. "Never Say Die" Attitude:

As I mentioned earlier, hackers have a “never say die” attitude. No matter how strict the security controls are used, they will always find a way in. Hackers are constantly updating themselves with the latest security features searching for loopholes and walkthroughs. This similar approach should also be adopted by graphic designers in their field as well. They should also keep themselves well apprised of the latest events in the graphic design and stay updated with the latest software and techniques.

5. Desire for Information:

We have learnt from Julian Assange, owner of and one of the people to revolutionize internet, that hackers also desire information. After the advent of WikiLeaks, a large vacuum of information has been filled, courtesy the hackers who wanted to expose the ‘real information’ to the world. For graphic designers, the desire for information is essential as well. Some graphic designers avoid obtaining information from their clients regarding the project. In the end, the client shows his dissatisfaction with the work. Hence, information collection is critical to the success of any venture.
After reading the above points, I hope now that you understand how graphic designers can learn from anyone, even hackers ;)


Author Charlie B. Johnson

has written Posts 388 .

  1. hansen david hernandez leon On March 18th, 2011 at 7:55 am


  1. A Aberg On March 18th, 2011 at 9:03 am

    Good thinking!!!

  1. Ryan Chua On March 18th, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Yeah I agree. “Think Outside The Box” is a very important factor for designers. Hackers always think outside the box that’s why they do what they do and they are good at it.

  1. Software Tester On March 19th, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Great article but I would add that these rules apply to virtually any field if you want to stay on the top of your game and be successful at what you do. As a software tester my goal was to break the system I was testing by any means possible and that required thinking out of the box, being persistent, thinking creatively always, knowing everything I could possibly know about the system I was testing and always thinking in terms of “Why Not”. As an artist the exact same rules apply if I want my work to be unique and to speak with my voice.

  1. Kendra On March 20th, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    This is a great article. It made some valid points, thinking outside the box, “breaking the rules” research etc. I live by these guidelines. I am always trying to explore news things, find new ways, and research as much as my brain can handle. I follow several blogs and designers, as well as my own, work in TV, and I do freelance work. I am constantly working, and must always find solutions (believe me… I come across many problems that need solutions every day).

  1. Adam On March 21st, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Definitely useful information – if you don’t keep trying to push yourself and try new things, you can get stuck in a rut, very quickly. Thanks for the article!

  1. Ovi On March 23rd, 2011 at 1:35 am

    Hey Charlie,

    I only want to congratulate you for this great article. It is very well written.

    And, as Adam said, we as designers, if we don’t try new things we definitely get stuck in a rut at a moment.

    Anyway, keep up the great work!

    Ovi Dogar

  1. oz On March 28th, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    ..awesome tips, thanks for sharing!!

  1. Charlie B. Johnson On April 4th, 2011 at 12:40 am

    Thanks for the appreciating comments everyone…I’m glad you find my tips useful

  1. Web Design Agency India On April 4th, 2011 at 6:21 am

    Great article but I would add that these rules apply to virtually any field if you want to stay on the top of your game and be successful at what you do. As a software tester my goal was to break the system I was testing by any means possible and that required thinking out of the box, being persistent, thinking creatively always, knowing everything./

  1. Graphic Design Cleveland On April 5th, 2011 at 9:58 am

    These are all really great points! Thinking outside of the box is an especially important once because it is important to make sure your designs are unique.

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