Three ways graphic design is like riding a motorcycle

Is graphic design like riding a motorcycle? Well, just ask any graphic designer who owns one (like me). Here are three similarities I see.

Preparation – No doubt about it, motorcycling is risky. That’s why we use “ATGATT.” It stands for “all the gear, all the time.” It’s all about wearing a proper helmet, jacket, gloves, boots, and pants with knee and hip pads. And after you dress properly for the ride, next is a visual walk-a-round of the motorcycle to check tires, lights and gas level. If all looks good then it’s time to ride!

Graphic design can also be about taking risks, but preparation can help alleviate that risk. Instead of a motorcycle, your equipment is a powerful computer with lots of memory, the most recent software including anti-virus programs, a color-calibrated monitor or two, and a really good mouse. (A full-face  helmet is optional when creating logos.) Keeping your skill set updated is key. is popular for online training. The Getty is an excellent resource for good graphic design principles.

Inspiration – What inspires us to ride? How about this: Piloting a motorcycle smoothly through a series of picturesque twisty turns is about as close as you can get to flying. Here in North Carolina we are lucky to have the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to the west, the Sandhills to the south, and beaches to the east. All make for exhilarating rides. Inspiration is often found from friends who have already been there, motorcycle travel websites, Google maps, and magazine articles. Check out this list of North Carolina roads to ride.

The design process can be a flight into a creative zone where there are endless sources of inspiration. Portfolio websites like Behance feature amazing work from designers all over the world. And be sure to check out these graphic design blogs. Google images and Pinterest are neat, too. Magazines, like my personal favorite, Road and Track, offer great examples of quality print design. A visit to your local art museum or gallery will often get the creative juices flowing. Hey, you could even ride your motorcycle there!

Destination – Knowing where you’re going is a good thing, right? The cliché ­ — “it’s not always about the destination, it’s about the journey” — is especially true on a motorcycle. You may forgo the direct route for the more interesting route.

Graphic design should take you on a journey, too. Start out with your color choices, sketching design ideas by hand, researching typefaces, and studying previous designs to ensure continuity. Along the way, step back to assess the progress you’ve made along the path you’ve chosen. Adjust your navigation as needed, and maybe take that left fork in the road every once and while and see where it takes you. In the end, you’ll find that your preparation and inspiration has led you to your destination.

Shiny side up, rubber side down!

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