The Perils of Being Too Creative in Graphic Design

The Perils of Being Too Creative in Graphic Design

When you take a walk down your local high street it’s amazing just how much information your brain can process at once. There’s the sights, the sounds, the smells and, if it’s particularly busy with jostling crowds, even touch.

Yes, the brain is a pretty remarkable piece of technology when it comes to the sensory awareness game. And that’s why humans have always responded so attentively to graphic design. However, just like their human owners, brains ain’t perfect!

There’s only so much information those brain wrinkles can absorb and, as a result, the smaller details are sometimes missed. And these smaller, more intricate details are often the most interesting aspects of the world around us.

The world of graphic design is no different, so let’s take a closer look at how being too creative may hinder your projects.

Guiding and Focussing the Eye

Being able to guide the viewer’s eye over a design and letting them focus on the right elements at the right time should be a graphic designer’s aim on all their projects.

It’s this control which relaxes the viewer’s brain and allows them to become more amenable to your design. This engagement allows your design to sink deeper into their consciousness until it reaches the subconscious. And it’s at this point that your design can really have an impact of the viewer’s behaviour be it buying a pair of shoes or signing up to a mailing list.

Guiding the viewer’s eye, therefore, is highly important, but many designers fail to grasp this basic tenet due to a nasty habit of over stimulating the viewer’s eye.

Sensory Overload

Graphic designers are naturally very creative and it often feels like our heads are going to burst due to all the ideas which are fighting to get out. And this is a good thing as it shows we’re always ready to tackle new projects and formulate answers for our creative challenges.

Getting carried away with this creativity, though, can actually cause you some real issues when working on graphic design projects.

Just the other week, for example, I got passed a business card by a printer who was keen to do business with me. However, whoever had designed their business card had worked with absolutely no limits on their creative restriction. And that business card was busy, REAL busy.

There were five different fonts, six colours and any negative space that may have once existed was now filled with various printer graphics. I’d love to have contacted the printer to advise them on changing their business card designer, but the card was giving me a headache. I put the card down and took an aspirin.

Putting the Brakes on That Creativity

An unstoppable flow of creativity is essential, but purely in the brainstorming stage of a project. Here you should get down as many ideas as possible to truly understand what your final design is going to need. It’s not so great, however, when you’re in the middle of working on your final design and have a strict deadline to meet.

Once you’ve brainstormed your creative spirit to the point of exhaustion then it’s time to take a breather. Take an hour or two away from the project and then come back to take a look. And start figuring out what you can cut.

Some of the ideas may seem completely crazy, and they probably are, but that’s the whole point of brainstorming. Don’t just put a big cross through them, though, as they could be very useful in the future for a different project. Instead, keep a folder packed full of all these creative titbits and half ideas which you can delve into when the need for inspiration strikes.

By narrowing your creative ideas down you’ll find that you can focus more on the most important aspects of engaging the viewer’s attention. Frankly, when you’ve got a hundred and ten ideas in front of you it’s tough to design something. And it’s even tougher for a viewer to focus on a design which has come from such a chaotic background.

However, by refining your ideas early on you’ll find that this pays dividends in the form of a simple, but highly effective design which allows your clients message to be conveyed succinctly and effectively.




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