I'm Nicholas. A designer living in Omaha, NE.


Trends and graphic design, or any art form, truly do go hand in hand. When you’re creating or crafting, it’s natural to look for a shortcut. That doesn’t mean you’re cheating, lazy, or a shifty person. It just means you’re human, and that is a fine thing to be.

Some shortcuts are even more natural than others, and those are the ones we should take. If you’re comfortable doing something you love in a certain way, then there is no reason to change. Is it working? Do you do it really well? Is it logical to you? Does it support you? Do you trust it? Do you believe in it?

Then don’t change it. Do what you do.

The natural shortcut is to do what we know. Not because we don’t want to do anything else—but because we don’t need to do anything else. Years ago when I was only a bit less foolish than I am now, I fought the idea of having a style. At least, I fought it in my head. I don’t think I was publicly assaulting the idea of having or executing a personal style.

If I was, I was sure wrong. Having a style is not bad or lazy, and it does not make you one-dimensional. It just shows that you’re confident in what you’re doing. It shows that you know what you’re doing.

I’m not telling you to not try new foods, go to new places, or to not meet new people. I’m telling you to not worry that your lines are always straight, or that your type is always narrow, or that your colors are always muted. I’m telling you that it’s okay to have people expect something specific from you, because what they could be expecting is something that works and that is right.

It’s okay to have a style or an obvious approach, as long as you let it grown within itself as you do the same.

The ability to remain humble is not something many renowned graphic designers possess, which is no surprise if you’ve met a few. It’s not abnormal for them to possess an entirely different ability—the ability to consistently harbor a massive, unrelenting ego. The world of graphic design is a rather small one, and while its products certainly affect those outside of it, those which feel the effect often do not know what person or even what profession is the source. Designers are invisible to the vast majority of the public, and they always will be. Unless you’re conditioned to stop and break down the nuances of the visual communication you’re encountering, you absorb what you find necessary, and you move on.

We’re not doctors or lawyers. We’re not known that we’re important due to those outside our profession immediately knowing how the word of our profession changes the world they live in. What we are is a small group of people who are obsessed with putting others within our profession on pedestals. Is it due to the outside world not acknowledging our self described brilliance? Do we hope that if we praise someone to a disgusting degree, shower them with meaningless awards, and treat them like royalty that in the future someone will do that for us?

Designers should be people who not only create from the start, but who can also look at something and see the flaws and know what steps can be taken to address the issues. We should intrinsically be critical thinkers, most especially about ourselves and those we keep closest. Which as a whole, we’re definitely not doing. We treat renowned designers as celebrities, hold galas in order to hand out awards, and hold far too many design competitions in order to build up the next crop of superstars so we know whose ass to pucker up to a few years down the road.

It seems that we’ve now hit a very critical point, in which we no longer can collectively disagree with a certain amount of designers due to the godlike status that we’ve laid upon them. You have no power to criticize a king or queen that you helped to the throne.

We have created a society in which an award winning designer (whose awards are jokes) is seen as right, often without challenge, simply due to the length of their award credentials, or their past endeavors. We’ve created a black and white world in which there is a clear divide between those whose opinion truly matters, and those whose opinion is to be heard, but not heeded. We have all been instrumental in allowing a world to exist which now allows experience to trump evolution. Where the weight of your idea is measured by what you did, and not what you what your new idea will do.

Stop listening to someone because of who they are, and start listening to them for what they say. What they say now can undo who they were, or still are. The importance of past achievements can fade.

Most importantly, do not put any stock in someone based on a medal around their neck, or an award in their office. Those pieces of metal and paper are meaningless fundraisers and prey on the appetite of egos to thrive.

By now, you’re confused. If you read through this again, that may not change. It may help to know that I was inspired to write this after the publishing of this article.

So, all of this can really come down to one thing. If you think listing your credentials after your name gives your opinion more weight, importance, or might in my mind, then you’re a fool. In a community as small as the design one is, or even more so AIGA, just being a part of it should be enough to have your name heard. You can speak alone, or in numbers, and you should be counted. Sign your name just as who you are—not what the outcome of an ego stroking panel claims you are.

Nicholas Burroughs, Graphic Designer


For months, I’ve wanted to take on a little design side project at home. Something for fun, and something that I’m relatively close to. Something I’m definitely close to is football/soccer. A video game series that I’ve always loved that represents the sport well is Pro Evolution Soccer, or PES for short. PES has always had the best engine, tactics, and realism. However, it’s menus, UI, and design have always been extremely lacking. Without the bigger budget that their competition has, PES has always seen design as something they’d get to later. Well, I want to change that, for fun.



Over the last few years there have been a number of concepts, people, and ideas that I’ve realized I never want to be associated with in the field of graphic design. In general, it all comes down to avoiding bullshit, and those who spew spew it.

As of now, I’m slowly compiling a list of words I never want to be associated with. They’re in no particular order, as each is special in their own way.

1. Branding
2. Consulting
3. Strategy
4. Synergy

The word branding has long disgusted me. It’s far too damn vague. I don’t want to consult, be a consultant, or do consulting. I want to create things, and work with people. Not get paid to nod my head and tell someone what they’ve thought of is worth moving forward with. That is what coworkers and friends are for.

As for strategy, it’s bullshit. Not actually strategizing things, but using the term in a sense to sell myself, no thank you. I know it works for many, and I’m sure they can back it up. However, for me, it sounds once again like I’m trying too hard to sell what I can do by talking about it instead of actually doing it.

As for synergy, that has corporate nonsense oozing out of every crack.

I know the list will grow. It has to, because as an INTJ, I know what I dislike just as much as what I like.


When I was a student, I was in the field of visual communications. Well, that is how I liked to put it. I still am, but I’ve often changed how I phrased it.

In recent years, I always went with the title of designer. However, to me, that is now incorrect. Or, it’s just silly.

Perhaps inspired by the dude who becomes my hero more and more each day, Aaron Draplin, or perhaps inspired by going back to a term I once used, I’d now like to just refer to myself as a graphic designer.

Sure, it doesn’t sound as elitist, or important as designer, but it sure sounds cooler. It makes me think of colors, posters, vectors, kerning, and communicating visually.

Those who know me would not be surprised to know that these things to matter to me. Terms, that is. Titles? No. Official job titles are for the weak, and for those who need a prefix or suffix to speak louder than their work. Graphic designer feels the right amount of dirty. By dirty, I mean ink on the hands, and dirty as in taking money for something you’re not proud of like those advertising fellas.

My name is Nicholas Burroughs, and I’m a graphic designer.

See? That felt nice. As a whole, this is a continuation of my recent epiphany of realizing I want to solve design problems, as a graphic designer. You know, as opposed to pretending I’m solving other problems in which graphic design does nothing for. But more on that later. If you’re a graphic designer, keep on designing. If you’re not sure what to call yourself, don’t worry, as you’ll figure it out inevitably. It’s taken me almost seven years to decide on something that I feel comfortable with.


I’ve been considering just what it is that I do over the last few weeks in terms of design. As each day has passed by, I’ve thought less and less about design. By less, I don’t mean amount of time spent thinking, but actually thinking less about what it can actually accomplish and what it’s useful for. Which is huge for me, as I love design.

For a few years now, I’ve always told myself, and others that I want to solve problems with design. I wanted to be that guy. Well, I’m not that guy. Can design solve problems? It can certainly help create the solution, and the same kind of thinking that we apply to design can be used to problems in order to solve them. Wait, does it solve problems? Yes, it can. However, I won’t want to do that.

Instead, I recently had an epiphany in which I realized what I specifically want to do.

I want to solve design problems.

These are much smaller on the whole scale that can be applied to life and everything involved in it, and I’m fine with that. It’s what makes me happy. Kerning matters to me. Communication at the tiniest level matters to me. Do other things matter to me? They do, however, I’m accepting that I do not have the ability, and at this point not even the interest to jump into them. I want to work on visual communications, and worry about aesthetics, and all the little things that some people may not like. You see, I like them. In this recent epiphany is when I realized it was okay to like them more than other things. I want to see bigger problems solved, but at this point I don’t want to kid myself into thinking that right now I can do such things.

Do I know people who can? I can think of not one, but two people who can, and who will. That is why they’re so great. They know what they want to do, to a much more specific level than most people.

I’ve known what I’ve wanted to do for years, and it’s finally getting more and more specific.

I’m going to go kern some type, and worry about some small details. This works, because I know there are others who are working on the bigger details.


I’m a huge Arsenal FC supporter. To those who are not aware, Arsenal FC are a football (soccer) club who play in the English Premier League. Sadly, the season is over, and I’m already itching for action.

I’ve wanted to design something Arsenal related for some time now. Perhaps a “season review” sort of magazine? Or website?

There has also always been a hope that I’d start an Arsenal blog titled Three Cannons. Start of next season?

So many question marks today. Sunday night is for brainstorming, though. Not for execution.


Today is my dad’s birthday. He’s a big Bears fan.

If there is one thing I learned from my dad when I was younger without him ever speaking to me directly about it, it’s to work hard. Work your ass off, and don’t complain. If you have a job, do your job.

I’d like to think this not only stuck with me, but I slowly adapted it for myself. Work hard, and also know when it’s time to get out. Know when you’re working too hard at something that doesn’t matter.

Don’t be afraid to quit, perhaps?

I’ve often advocated quitting to my friends. I quit school, I quit a few bad jobs, and now I’m happy. It works! Quit and you get somewhere…what a concept. Perhaps a Pecha Kucha talk? We’ll see.

Happy birth anniversary, pops.


“They disconnect who they are to allow you to experience what they create.”
(Paul Williams in reference to Daft Punk)

It’s a gorgeous quote, and an even more gorgeous practice. It is in reference to the anonymity that surrounds Daft Punk with the use of their legendary helmets.

I think designers should disconnect themselves more. Not from their work, but from acknowledgement and the idea that being something is as important as creating something.

I’ve meet a few designers who seem more interested in having themselves judged as opposed to their work judged. Instead of their work communicating, they make feeble attempts at communicating their presence through their appearance, awards, or personality.

I’d rather put forth things to be enjoyed, which allows me to enjoy what I do, as opposed to putting myself forward in hopes I’ll enjoy myself.

Also, yes, I’m really enjoying the new Daft Punk album.

Two days ago I was asked to do a quick gig poster at the last minute. Years ago, I made fake gig posters as a student. Eventually, I learned that they’re not a great representation of what design can do and should be about. However, they’re fun, and if you don’t take them too seriously, than you can really enjoy them.

If I have a “style”, then fuck, I have a style. I’d like to think I just have a certain way of doing things. This certainly is not a classic gig poster, but it’s how I like it. Hopefully I’ll get to do some more of these in the future. It’s a fun little challenge.



I adore Wes Anderson, and his films, to an alarming degree. Many people know this. Many people also know the style or aesthetics I’m drawn to. Adam Torpin alerted me when he saw the above posters. I now own them, and shall soon have them framed.

Thanks, Torpin.


All it can take is an email. Or effort, or drive, or the will to do it.

If there is someone who inspires you, gives you goosebumps, makes you feel happy, and generally kicks ass, then you need to meet them. Do what you need to do. Shake that hand. Tell them thank you, and tell them thank you again.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to meet Aaron Draplin. He thinks he’s a regular guy, but to many of us he’s a symbol of what we all should be and should believe in.

I was also lucky enough to have him thank me at the start of his presentation. All I did was send an email, but I’m glad I sent it.

A few years ago I sent Stefan Sagmeister a letter. I think I’ll do that again.

Reach out folks. Reach out.

Also, I am now a lifelong believer in the DDC.


Now that I have my sweet job at a real design studio, Eleven19, I don’t have to worry about doing the kind of work that would get me hired. What does that mean? It means I can do more fun little icons, random logo redesigns, and all sorts of other things that “don’t matter” but are just for fun.

Also, Aaron Draplin (one of my design heroes) will be speaking in Omaha in one week for AIGA Nebraska. Emailing your heroes and telling them you’d love for them to come speak where you live is totally worth it.


The last time there was a mention of Tegan and Sara on here, there was a black and white photo. Well look at that, it happens again. Although last time it was a picture of the adorable Tegan, where as this time it’s just a boring photo I took.

Monday is the real start of the week, despite what people who say Sunday think. They’re just wrong.

The Monday that is tomorrow is the start of something new. The previous post had a “hint” image in it. In that image there were eleven lines, followed by nineteen lines.

Tomorrow, I start my new job at Eleven19. Oh, I’m so fucking clever.

I’m nervous, but those nerves are just my excitement telling me that good things are going to happen.

As for the Tegan and Sara reference, come on.


In the very near future, there will be a bit of change in my days. If you do not know, the clue is above. If that doesn’t help than you’ll have to just wait a day or so.

The majority of the time I feel nervous in my life, it’s due to excitement. This is most certainly one of those times.

Gentlemen to bed! For we leave at first light…on Monday.

Something looking “safe” varies massively from person to person, based on what they’re used to seeing. The past is safe, because we now know how to react to it and how to prevent certain things from occurring that we did not enjoy.

The unknown is not safe. In a way, neither is the future.

In terms of design, this could mean that someone who only designs gig posters finds that style incredibly safe. Even if they’re then designing something for someone who does not want a gig poster, their instinct is to play it safe, which means you get that style that some people would consider not safe, or extreme.

Safe has nothing to do with minimalism, legibility, or white space. It’s completely tied to past experience, comfort level, and expectations.

To someone who has only ever asked for work in the style of David Carson, getting work from Massimo Vignelli would not be safe for them, as it’s a foreign concept.

Lesson: Fuck safety. Don’t be afraid to make yourself uncomfortable.

You may or may not have noticed that this page looks different than it once did. It stayed one way for a long time, so there is that. However, it was time for a change. Nothing major, but I feel that this blog will just live better in this space. Especially as I might try and not worry about having an image to accompany each post. If there is one, great. If not, oh well.

I like the idea of words taking up just as much visual space as images do. However, when there are images, they’ll be bigger than before. Be happy for that if you’re really into images, or specifically big images.

Exciting things are happening. Taking some steps in a slightly new direction is always exciting.

Also, I believe I’m getting a new desk. Hopefully this desk. This potential excites me. Also, Secret Pint, the name of my inevitable music/design blog is slowly becoming a reality. The hope is that that will cause me to write more “personal” things on here. Which really just means posting more, because all things on here should relate to me specifically. Hopefully anyone reading can handle that.

Before an advertisement showed up on the sidebar of Facebook urging you to become a graphic designer and attend an online university. Before it was cool, hip, or trendy. Before it became about selling yourself instead of ideas. Before dressing like a graphic designer existed.