Creative Clarity Is More Important Than Creative Freedom

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In the early days of my graphic design career, I wanted people to just let me do all the work. I did not want anyone putting any parameters or requirements on me. It felt good to have complete and utter creative freedom on projects. Now do not get me wrong. Creative freedom is a great thing. However, it can also be a trap that will send you into a black hole of revisions and frustrating back-and-forth discussions that pull you further into the darkness.

Imagine having complete creative control. You sketch ideas and you open your program of choice. You create some of the best designs you have ever done. You send them to the client and they say, “This is not what we were thinking at all.” The flame of rage builds within you as they give you the notes and direction you now wish you had before you wasted your time.

Well, that is your fault. You should have asked the necessary questions beforehand.

Parameters and requirements can actually serve you well. Knowing as much about a project as possible beforehand empowers you to do your best work for that particular client. You and the client are a team tasked with solving the problem at hand. The best solution comes from focused work. The more efficient you are, the higher the chances of success. Knowing your limitations can actually ignite your creativity. There is a sense of accomplishment in creating something incredible within that space. It also tests your problem solving skills.

Designing for someone, without any guidance or knowledge of project limitations, is like shooting in the dark. It does feel good to be trusted with creative freedom but that freedom could actually mean the client is too indecisive to know what they want. However, they will be more than happy to reject any and all of your work after the fact. The conversation about the general direction of the project should happen prior to the start of design work. As the design professional, it is not just your job to execute an idea but help the client discover what they actually need. Each piece of information can unlock new and relevant ideas that will fuel your creativity. Communication breeds clarity.

Creative clarity is more important that creative freedom.

~b.