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Graphic design is a vast field and its bounds are nearly limitless. Similarly, there are no limits to the degree of creativity of a graphic designer. Most designers believe in freedom in design, while at the far end, some follow design limitations. But…anything done in excess is bad.

The followers of design limitations hold firmly to the set rules and principles as laid out by the book. While at the other extreme, supporters of design freedom advocate that it gives them the opportunity to explore their creative instincts and come up with better designs. While both aspects are significant in their respective domains, excess of both freedom and limitation can spoil the design.


Drawbacks of freedom in Graphic Design:

Let us first analyze the freedom aspect of designing. How is excessive and uncontrolled freedom in graphic designing a bane?
  • Time consuming:

Having said that freedom in graphic designing gives you the liberty to explore new and unique trends, it also can be a time waster. Lack of restrictions enables a graphic designer to think of more and more concepts. The more the concepts you think of, the more the choices you will have at hand. The more choice you have to select among, the more time is exhausted on the project. Sometimes freedom in graphic designing becomes detrimental when you have to meet project deadlines.
  • Wandering away from the subject:

Graphic designing is such a diverse field that excessive contemplating the design concepts can result in deviating from the project itself. Without any bounds, when a graphic designer starts conceptualizing the design, one idea is superseded by another. In this way, he deviates from the main subject and gets lost in the thought processes.
  • Confused concepts:

It is an accepted fact that freedom in designing broadens our horizons and gives us the opportunity to think out of the box. But too much thinking leads to confusion. Sometimes when you get involved in excessive freedom, you come up with various choices to choose from. This can be quite confusing for graphic designers to choose the best alternative out of superfluous options.
  • Leads to regret:

The worst part about being liberal in graphic design is that there are more chances for cognitive dissonance to arrive. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling that arises after taking a certain decision. Sometimes after selecting one design, graphic designers lament…“If only I had chosen the other design”. When there are more choice to select from, the grief of not selecting the other designs is more.

Drawbacks of Limitation in Graphic Design:

After having discussed the drawbacks of freedom in graphic design, let us now analyze the other extreme. How does design limitation cause problems for graphic designers?
  • It bounds creativity:

While design limitations are good to the extent that they save valuable time, excessive design restraints bound the creativity of graphic designers. It undermines the ability of graphic designers to fully utilize their creative talent and try out innovative ideas and styles. Graphic designers can come up with creative ways only when there is a certain degree of liberty for new ideas and concepts.
  • Inflexibility creates boredom:

A designer bound by design limitations is like a lion trapped inside a cage. Excessively working in limited domains creates boredom and dullness to the job. Graphic design is in no way a dull and boring field and hence working within design limitations can be quite frustrating for graphic designers. When you work within specified constraints, it becomes a monotonous and tedious endeavor.
  • You don’t make a distinction:

Imagine if all graphic designers work on the same design principles and are bound by the same design limitations, then there would be no difference between any of them. Although personality types of graphic designers are different, they are distinguished by their style of work. Operating under design constraints disables the designer to exploit his unique skills and limits him to the fundamentals. Hence nothing innovative is to offer to the customers can distinguish them from their competitors.
  • Don’t think out of the box:

The best part of graphic design is that it lets you experiment with new trends and techniques. With design limitations and strict regulations, you don’t think out of the box. To get noticed, one has to come up with innovative and revolutionary ideas. But with excessive limitations around a graphic designer, this task is quite hard to accomplish.
  • Hinders progress and development:

One of the major setbacks of design limitations is that it creates hurdles in the way of progress and growth as a graphic designer. Since you stick to the fundamentals of the design and don’t explore new trends and practices of the industry, you are likely to lag behind as a graphic designer.
Which adversely affects you more…the FREEDOM or the LIMITATION in graphic designing?

  1. Freedom or Limitation in Graphic Design – Too much is too bad … | Josh Graphic Designs On July 8th, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    [...] more here: Freedom or Limitation in Graphic Design – Too much is too bad … Share and [...]

  1. Perth Graphic Designer On July 8th, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    Thank you for putting the situations I faced daily into words, finally :)

  1. Design Smash On July 9th, 2010 at 2:09 am

    Freedom or Limitation in Graphic Design – Too much is too bad!…

    Thank you for submitting this cool story - Trackback from Design Smash…

  1. Atlanta Graphic Designer On July 9th, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    I think, just like with anything else in life, with design you need balance. When working on a project I think there needs to be a time when you let loose and don’t control your ideas, and just go with the flow. But it’s also important to know to keep it relevant to the concept and know when to reel it in.


  1. Farhan On July 10th, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    A very good article and yes anything done in excess is bad.

  1. Most Popular Design Links of the Week 3 -10 July On July 11th, 2010 at 1:31 pm

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  1. Web Design On July 12th, 2010 at 6:51 am

    The pictures were perfectly chosen to illustrate your post mate. Revolutionary ideas don’t come so easy… :)

  1. Will On July 12th, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Great article. This is one of the catch 22′s in the design world. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve faced this exact situation. I personally prefer to error on the side of too much freedom rather than not enough. Other wise you feel like more of a production drone rather than a graphic design professional.

  1. theLULAdesigns On July 12th, 2010 at 10:39 am

    I agree with Atlanta Graphic Designer. It is definitely a fine balance that needs to be kept in-check. However, If I’m feeling stifled by the parameters of a project, it is helpful to curb boredom by finding the most creative ways to push against those boundaries. With regulation heavy projects, this can keep them interesting and challenging. On the flip side, if the project is completely open to my creative whim then I also find it helpful to create my own parameters to keep myself in-check.

  1. 509 Media On July 12th, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    I like to have direction from a client but I agree to much direction can limit creativity. I also agree that not enough direction can lead to wasted time mocking up.

  1. Sibusiso On July 13th, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    I like the one about wandering from the subject, I can identify with it A LOT, great article indeed.

  1. Henna @ AboutCabinets Blog On July 14th, 2010 at 12:29 am

    i agree, while the field of graphic designing is too vast, sometimes one can get limited due to the needs and demands of the client and this is what hampers the creativty of the designer too

  1. Pedicurist On July 14th, 2010 at 7:44 am

    Good images :)
    and I also agree everything done in excess is horrible.

  1. Rob On July 14th, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Great post - its snapshots of my design process! I guess everyone has their own balancing point between the 2 extremes where they feel most comfortable. I’ve used the creative strategy template and some of the others from this stie to not only help me explain myself to clients but to also help me make decisions.

  1. Smita On July 20th, 2010 at 3:40 am

    An ideal situation will be, giving some fair bit of idea what the client wants by siting an example of two similar websites and then leaving it to the designer to come with the best…

    In this way, designer is limited to the idea of what is the client wishing for and at the same time is free to use his skills to some up with the BEST :)

    Thanks buddy for sharing this post…Good one !!


  1. Adam Sturm On August 3rd, 2010 at 10:08 am

    This is so true! It’s hard to find a happy medium. If you have too much freedom, you’re not sure which direction to go in and it’s hard to narrow down a focus. Too much constraint and the job doesn’t seem fun or creative at all.

  1. Addies @ Logo Design Reviews On August 10th, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Excess of everything is bad, indeed. Really love the way you put pictures for every heading. That’s really eye catching. Thanks, will read more posts right now! Bookmarked :)

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