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I am a fresh graduate who started working as a Graphics Designer.

My boss gave me a task to create a design from various references. As I do the job, I consult with him and report my progress so that the design I create matches with what he envisioned.

However, when I complete my design, he gets inspired by something, and says, "Ok, let's try a new idea." This is a completely different idea with different references.

I understand that we should choose the final design from a set of multiple designs, but this has gone too far! I have created different versions of the same website about 20 times now. I cannot do it any more or my mind will blow!

How can I approach my boss and ask him to make up his mind?


Update:

I have come to realize that the revisions are simply part of his creative process. I find it difficult to try my best if I know my first design will be rejected. Not because of its flaws but because my boss changes his mind about the whole idea that we started with. It does not bother me as much as it did in the beginning. I will just suck it up for now and use this as an opportunity to explore the limits of my creativity.

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    I hope you're keeping all the rejected designs! – A. I. Breveleri Apr 17 '17 at 4:11
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    So who is paying for all this? As long as your time is compensated, you should just follow the boss's lead. Let him decide how many editions is enough. – A. I. Breveleri Apr 17 '17 at 4:13
  • You seem to have spend a bit less time in the woods.This place is like that.Just keep the revisions and do as your boss says.It takes time to master control over emotions like boredom and repeated task related stress .You have to do what your boss/client asks thats the only way you can be usefull. – amar Apr 17 '17 at 7:43
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    Sorry, but what is the actual problem? Is the Boss not paying for all these redesigns? Are you forced to work unpaid overtime? Boss might not like the first 50 designs, but that's up to him/her. – Johns-305 Apr 25 '17 at 18:08
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    ‘he... says, "Ok, let's try a new idea." This is a completely different idea with different references.’ — That’s probably why he didn’t say “Let’s try the same idea again.” – Paul D. Waite Apr 25 '17 at 20:39
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Setup a meeting with your manager to discuss your concerns.

Your boss may not realize your frustration with the repeated rejections and redesign requests until you tell him. For all you know, he could be assuming that you are excited about the opportunity to try out so many different ideas!

Your boss needs to be aware of the risk of your work getting affected due to the frustration well in advance. In general, you should raise any issues to your manager well in time when they can still be solved. You shouldn't leave it so late that the manager asks, "why didn't you tell me earlier?"

Be aware though that your work done for your employer belongs to them, and you get paid for doing it. If your boss insists on continuing the redesign another 1000 times, you do not have too many options besides either complying with the request or quitting the job. Asking your boss to "make up his mind" or telling him that "your mind will blow" when all he has asked you to do is the job you were hired to do may not end up well for you.

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    +1 Yep, your boss could burn your work in front of you every day. It's the company's, not yours. – Richard U Apr 17 '17 at 15:40
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    I agree with you, but I also symphasize with OP. It can be extremely frustrating when you can never finish your current assignment. Yes, you're being paid regardless, but sometimes payment isn't satisfactory. – Edwin Lambregts Apr 18 '17 at 14:49
  • On the other hand...quitting is always an option. You don't have to put up with the stress. Looking for a new job sucks, but is it worse than what you have to deal with now? – Draco18s Apr 25 '17 at 21:33
  • On the other other hand, if the OP plans to stay in the same industry, then quitting might be pointless, if 20+ iterations on a design is commonplace for this industry. (I'm not a graphic designer, so I honestly don't know if this is unreasonable.) He mentions that he's a fresh graduate, so he may want to take some time to get used to the job, talk to co-workers about this and figure out if it's really unusual before jumping ship. – Steve-O Apr 26 '17 at 13:48
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It seems that your bosses working style is very inefficient. Some people have to demonstrate their importance by requiring changes, whatever you do. As a result, he takes maybe ten days of your working time to create one design that is used, when you could have created five different designs that are used in that time. BTW. You don't need a set of different designs - you need one good one.

I wonder what you mean by "boss" - is he the owner of the company, or is he your manager, responsible to others? If he is the owner of the company, it's his money that is wasted. He pays you a months salary for two designs that are used when he could get ten designs that are used for the same money. If he is a manager, he isn't wasting his money, but the company's money. At some point I think he would be asked why the work he is responsible for makes so little progress.

I'd say: One, don't worry about this. It's annoying, but only if you let it annoy you. So don't let it. You create designs, you get paid. Two, do not accept any criticism of your efficiency. Keep all the designs, keep all the different references, so that you can demonstrate that you did a good job. Three, do not under any circumstances accept requests for unpaid overtime. A boss who cannot make up his mind does not create a business need for overtime. Four, when raises are discussed don't accept anyone rating you down because of the small number of accepted designs. You must be rated based on the huge number of perfectly fine designs that you created.

All that said, at my place of work the designers are told for example "Easter is coming, we want some Easter themed design for a new campaign", and then some time later the designers come back with an Easter themed design. They know better than their boss how to create a design, and they know it. And the boss knows it.

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    This is a great answer. Especially for a newbie to industry. When you first enter any industry you only really have school to draw on for reference on how something goes, but that rarely jibes with the real world. Requirements in a work environment change (stupidly) often. Nothing goes like school says it should. ^_^ – SliderBlackrose Apr 17 '17 at 14:04
  • I like this approach because he is happy with my work so I guess that is all that matters. He says jump I ask how high I get it. I will look at this as a test of my creativity. – NoobDesigner Apr 18 '17 at 7:48
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Full disclaimer: I am not a designer... but I feel your pain.

I'm going to run with the assumption that your boss wants to do the best design possible and is easily distracted by new ideas triggering a full redesign. I would (as Masked Man suggested) talk with your boss but with a slightly different approach. I'm assuming this scenario has happened a few times by now. Document how many projects you've worked on and how many different designs that you did for each. The intent is to try to demonstrate to your boss with a helpful, "did you realize?" tone that all these full redesigns are taking up a lot of your time (document/estimate that also) and probably others' time as well.

What if in future projects you met with your boss, brainstormed, and picked the top 3 (or whatever) designs. You mocked them each up... NOT a full design but enough for anyone reviewing the design to get a sense of what it will look like. A final design is picked and that one gets the full design treatment. That way your boss gets to pick a few designs from the start, see them mocked to get a sense of the design without the larger time spent in full design creation, and pick a winner before you've spent too much time.

Hopefully him seeing actual data on time "wasted" with redesigns he will realize that the process needs to be improved. A proposal to improve the process while still allowing for several designs to be quickly mocked and reviewed will hopefully help him see the designs and hone in on one before work is done on all.

If you don't have a process in place to quickly mock designs, you might research that and come up with a plan before talking to him. Or at least have a few ideas and get your boss involved with choosing something that works for him also.

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This is the nature of the beast with Design.

Given enough time on the job and working with your boss, you will get more in sync with what your boss is looking for with a design. This experience will give you the ability to anticipate what he is wanting and you will be able to get to a final solution with less effort.

But the nature of design and development makes it an iterative process. Having been doing web development and design for over 15 years now I can't tell you how many times I wanted to start a lot closer to what the boss ended up wanting but the boss wanted to start someplace else. It is just the nature of the beast. We work for someone else. Eventually, your boss will learn to trust your judgement on somethings and this pain will lessen. Part of that process is doing designs and developing stuff that will never be used, or will end up scrapped in favor of a different design/process.

Some day you may be the person making the design decisions. Then you will get to define the requirements and can be the one making the decisions. When you get to that point remember how frustrating it is when you make frequent design decisions and make sure you acknowledge your designer for indulging your requests.

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A good approach here is to avoid accusing the boss of doing something wrong, even though you feel that that is the source of your frustration.

Rather that "you're making me produce too many revisions", I would frame this from the perspective that you're in fact producing too many revisions and would like to reduce that.

"I feel I'm being inefficient. Is there a way I could proceed faster to the final revision? Can I somehow acquire some your design perspective so that I can converge on the result with fewer iterations for you to review and evaluate?"

Another angle also: "Is it all normal or expected that I'm requiring so many revisions to get right, or is there something I should improve in my approach which would enable me to work faster?"

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How many is too many?

If you boss normally makes a decision after only seeing a few designs, then you have a valid concern as it appears that he is not satisfied with what has been presented so far.

In this case, meet with the boss and express the concern that you are not able to meet his needs and would like guidance on what to change to make it better for him.

However, if your boss normally likes to go through numerous design ideas before finally settling upon one, then his current behavior is normal for him and really should not be challenged, as you may offend him.

Turn it into a Positive

But, even in this case, you could approach the boss and tell him that you've noticed he likes to see and try out lots of different designs.

Ask him if your observation is accurate. If it is, suggest to him that the current approach be changed to maximize design experimentation and turn-around time, rather than refactoring the entire site.

By working WITH him, you and he can design an approach that gets him his many designs while addressing your concern about workload. Win-win.

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