Examining The Design Process: Clichés and Idea Generation

By Dan Mayer

Where do good ideas come from? It’s a question that matters a great deal to designers, yet seems to be curiously discounted in the common perception of graphic design. Any time I talk with, say, an uncle at Thanksgiving about my work, I’m reminded that, in most people’s minds, the job of being a designer is mainly a matter of learning a set of computer applications — programs which, when properly operated, presumably do the work of generating ideas on their own.

If pressed further, most people will offer up some version of the Genius Theory: the idea that certain individuals are simply blessed with a force called ‘creativity’ that (as the theory goes) allows them to summon remarkable ...

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