Been watching and reading a lot on how to be more creative with graphic design and have been doing the things suggested (mood boards, sketching, learning new software and a degree in graphic design, etc) and, for me anyway, I am finding that I have become so overexposed to design that when I sit down to actually design something I am so overwhelmed by the different approaches I have seen to a design outcome that I become just stuck and unable to move forward.

I understand the method of design and have an understanding of what not to do but how do you be original or innovative when it's all been done before?

For each project I go in wanting very much to do something that is in keeping with the brief and is relevant to the client's business but I find I just end up playing it safe and pretty much going with something that at the end looks pretty generic and not particularly creative. This is fine for some business but I feel pretty uninspired really by my designs.

Just wondering if anyone else feels the same way?

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    Hi Michael and welcome to GDSE. I totally understand how you feel. Often feel like "unlearning" all the rules and just work on the project in front of me with an unpolluted mind. I think this feeling hits you in all creative crafts. You learn quickly at first but then you hit a plateau where things seems to stand still. If you hang in there will one day come a project which enables you to evolve again and create something to be proud of. Original? I don't know. It would be nice, and I strive for that, but it's also "just a job". – Wolff Oct 26 '19 at 23:00
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    However this isn't really a question suitable for this site. Questions must be specific and answerable. You must be able to choose a correct answer and others must be able to read it later and get the "correct" answer. When you have 20 rep points you can enter the chat where things like this is discussed. I have to vote close this as "too broad". – Wolff Oct 26 '19 at 23:00
  • Take a look at this related question: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/76717/… – Rafael Oct 28 '19 at 1:53

TL;DR: Extending project delivery deadlines can help a great deal.

In many instances I find if my work is overall pedestrian it is because my deadlines are too tight or I've got too much to do. The more time I have, the better design results become.

I've found creating proper client expectations regarding timeframes is the key.

There's often a demand or desire from clients to be faster than I would prefer to be. So it is up to me to push for the time I need to be effective. All clients, all clients, seem to want anything and everything today or tomorrow. However in 99.9% of cases I've found that's not actually true. If I tell a client I need 10 days and they can't have something in 3 ... they adjust their expectations because they reality is, they didn't really need whatever it is in 3 days. Often they are merely afraid that if they don't provide a deadline something will take forever. And they have no real idea how long I may need for something.

In addition, the above all holds true if my schedule is too "packed". If I must meet a deadline Monday and then meet another deadline Tuesday, then another Wednesday.. that means there's no time for a break. This can lead to temporary "burn out" as well. I try and keep my schedule as loose as feasible, which allows better "project stacking" and prevents a week of "must get done" projects.

Then, of course, there's simply my mental state. There are times where, as a professional, I simply create something to fulfill a commitment even though I'm not feeling very "into it" or creative at the time. Other times I am inspired and driven to meet a design goal I have in mind - which naturally results in better work. So longer time frames for delivery also help get over those "just not into it" periods. Tuesday I may have had some bad personal news and not feel like working, but if I have a deadline tomorrow I may have to work -- this leads to "get 'er done" design. However if I have a deadline next week. I can take the day to merely be "on call" without any actual creative work being done.


Clients generally want to play it safe, as they know they're not selling the Mona Lisa either. If you find a client willing to at least look at a second option, go ahead and show it, otherwise just stick to the brief and don't waste more time on it than you should. Its your time, so use it wisely :)


This is common for all design tasks be it graphic, machine or software design. There is always many possible ways to approach things, and many of them are documented. Pay attention to what problem the method tries to solve. At the end of the day you need to chose one way.

Often methods talk about stages that are somewhat unimportant, like early design phases, client communication steategies or some fancy step. Because that is fun and shows of the difference of the method. But often most of the actual work is just that work.

Innovative just means something new that sells. New does not mean never before seen. If the clients brief is generic then they get generic. If your client is willing to pay for testing a lot of things then go wild ( ask client for time for it). You are being misled by the word, creative. A lot of creative people do just the same thing over and over. Not that that is bad. The true advancement of the craft evolves slowly, too slow to be percieved.

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