The Dangers Of Bad Graphic Design


A well-designed warning sign transcends age, culture, and language to convey a particular danger. At a moment’s glance, it should clearly demonstrate WHAT can mess you up, and HOW to avoid it.

I instantly liked this one I saw in Toronto. You needn’t even be literate to understand that “In Case of Fire”, you should panic and run like hell. Like most people, I tend to linger in infernos. So it was quite helpful.

Conversely, poorly-designed warning signs are ambiguous, even misleading, and fail to express the true severity of certain hazards. This one from my hotel in Seattle typifies the issue. Are we supposed to creep into a basement, because there’s a WU-TANG CLAN logo at the top of the stairs? I don’t understand.

Two years ago on tour I started documenting some of the most ludicrous examples I came across, and now it’s become a strange hobby. As you’ll see, the majority of these provide more for blog fodder than they do for public safety.

Enjoy 10 more examples from my collection, and feel free to post any that you find in your city.

Pittsburgh, PA

IN CASE OF FIRE, it doesn’t mean you still can’t offer a tray of delicious hors d’oeuvres! Endive!

Royal Oaks, MI

IN CASE OF THUNDERCATS, stand deathly still.

Las Vegas, NV

IN CASE OF A PILE OF FOXES, curtsy politely, Margaret! Were you raised feral, child!? Lord Downton is here! I’m terribly sorry, Lord Downton, some girls are just destined to remain unwed forever, I guess. “Soft-brained” the doctor said. She certainly likes her foxes, though; I will say that for her.

St. Petersburg, FL

IN CASE OF METEOR and ZOMBIE, mark my word, sinners: We will all of us burn.

Columbus, OH


Dallas, TX

IN CASE OF… stop right there, sir! You’re on a new show called To Catch a Predator. Take a seat.

Leeds, UK

IN CASE OF BLACK GHOST, it’s still a wonderful afternoon! A brisk jog to the Gay Pride
Parade is just the thing!

New York, NY

IN CASE OF KLU KLUX KLAN, dress impeccably.

Oklahoma City, OK

IN CASE OF BEAR, oh my god did you say “bear” or “Astaire”? I LOVE Fred Astaire! Watch this! A cha cha cha…

Helsinki, Finland

IN CASE OF FIRE, proceed directly into it. Seems strange but it Might. Just. Work.

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