The Rejects of Design

We’ve all had our fair share of rejected design ideas. It’s just part of the job. Rather than chucking failed projects out with the trash though, locking rejected designs away for a rainy day may prove to be more useful than you might think.

Instead of dismissing design work when a client pulls the plug, it’s worth keeping a ‘design rejects’ file. It will evolve to become a graveyard of your creative ideas, each one with the potential for resurrection.

It’s often our most outlandish ideas, our most creative, original, and beautiful solutions, that are the ones which don’t quite make it. Perhaps we put in too much in the way of artistry and are guilty of applying our creative natures more than our commercial ones.

But what about everyone else’s rejected designs? If there’s value to be scrounged from our own concepts which failed to hit the brief, then surely we can take some inspiration and lessons from the rejected ideas of our design peers also? You might think it would be difficult to convince designers to reveal their failures. But that’s just not the case.

Having scoured dribbble, the ever-impressive collection of brilliant designers from all over the globe, with the search tag ‘rejected’, I can confirm that great design can often be found in rejected project proposals. Here are a few branding and logo concepts that didn’t make it commercially, but are still incredibly good.


Stark by Chris DeLorenzo

Intended for commercial use as a wine label, this rejected idea still works as a standalone typographic experiment. Rich with texture, type and form, Chris’ concept would take pride of place as a piece of wall art in a modern country kitchen.

Tin Shed by Monte Mitchell

Monte may have failed to impress with this concept for a mountain sports company, but the use of colour, shape and type is a winner. The design is flexible enough that the wording can be changed when the right client or project comes along.


‘Rae by Brian Potstra

Elegant typographic curves are never an easy thing to achieve, and the skill required to perfect it increases when you try to include illustrative bird-inspired letters. The client may have rejected this, but I’d certainly like to see Brian make this custom type opensource!

Jasminum by Mik Skuza

Handrawn scrawl style fonts are reletively common, especially in the beauty and frangrance industry, but nailing the execution and getting the flow right takes time and skill.


Happy Whale by Jord Riekwel

A deceptively simple whale icon that cleverly uses a collection of simple shapes to create both form and personality. Great use of colour, and some ingenious little bubbles that create a strong sense of fun and movement.

You Dote by Jake Dugard

How do you create the impression of friendliness and fun using only type? You combine soft edges, imperfect curves and bright colours.


Elephant Mouse by Assembly Co.

In the wrong hands, a brief asking for an icon of an elephant and a mouse could have gone terribly wrong. Instead, the form is modern, sleak and deceptively simple. The ‘little and large’ connotations of the name are nicely subverted here in the font combination and the colouring is spot on.

Gusto by Ryan Hamrick

Modern script caligraphic typography at it’s finest. This is the perfect blend of handrawn rustic feel with precise balance and poise. We have a couple of questions about the dates though…


Jumsoft by Jord Riekwel

Controlled, professional and timeless. Jord’s logotype would be right at home alongside any of the worlds famous brands. When simple typography is done properly, nothing else is needed.

Growth Shack by Meghan Robichaud

Sometimes a direct interpretation of the companies name makes for a great icon idea. This rejected design shows playfulness in both final form and design process.


Umbraco by Jon Contino

We love the textured background and hand drawn feel of this reject. The wonky stars in the strap line help to reinforce the rustic feel, and the black diamond background gives weight, body and strength to the logo.

The Milk by TAS

Apparently this design was rejected for not being ‘milky’ enough. Miky or not, we’re impressed with the smooth curves and sharp edges.


The Little Acorn by Chris Piascik

A seamless and playful blend of upper and lower case letters creates a dynamic and engaging typographic style. Offset with some nice illustrative elements and a hefty amount of orange and this reject is definitely one to be filed.

Hop & Froth by Karli Ingersoll

We really like the hand drawn illustrative style, the loose curves, and the imperfect textures here. This looks more like it was created by hand on a chalk board than on a computer – and in this case, that’s a really good thing!

I would love to be part of the dribbble community, to contribute, learn, and collaborate. Here is my prospect profile – take a look, and keep me informed about any invite giveaways you have!