Best of Your Budget: Minimal Color Use

Whether it’s with graphic design or business planning in general, the tendency to add lots of features, color, graphic elements, bells, whistles, and whizzbangs is incredibly common. It’s an irresistible and misleading strategy for people who want their product or project to stand out and aren’t really sure how. More often than not it will distract the audience and is going to be more expensive to produce.

So how to cut the fat without the impact? Start by hiring a great graphic designer, limit color choices, and use high quality printing. That will get you there every time. Better still, explore printing alternatives like screenprinting or letterpress. Often times they are on par with traditional offset printing, and in some cases, cheaper if it’s a small enough run of prints. Not to mention it affords the obvious wow-factor that just ain’t happening over at Ye Olde Copy Center Plus. Plus it supports an age-old craft, and the person behind it.

Still not convinced? Take a look at these beautiful printed pieces, all designed with just one or two colors. Budgets are included for the projects that listed those details.


Single-color offset printed poster by Jude Landry produced for Mississippi State University, total budget $200. More on the design and production costs here.


Two-color screenprinted poster by Ross Bruggink.

These letterpressed business cards for Kate Murphy are not only letterpressed with the most exuberant shade of yellow, but the lettering is hand-drawn by one of my design heros, Jessica Hische.

Two-colors, designed and screenprinted by me (hee!). Total budget, $150.

Gulf Charity poster by the Heads of State. Two-colors, $40. Half the proceeds go to Oceana, the largest international organization focusing entirely on protecting the world’s oceans.


Screenprinted CD packaging with fold out poster and belly band, 2 colors. Production costs come in at an impressively low $350. By Spencer Charles for band Lord Mandrake. Spencer did the design, printing, scoring, gluing, and folding himself. Wow! Via FPO.

Author: PitchDesign
Margot Harrington is a graphic designer, art junkie, and all-around collaborator captivated by all forms of making and doing. Her friends include oldstyle numerals, antique books and dusty suitcases, bike rides and old wacky electronics. When not designing, she does odd jobs and documents art & design on the internet at www.pitchdesignunion.com