A Design is Finished when... 23 Pro Designers' Opinions

One of the most important and hardest things to overcome when designing is to understand when the piece you are designing on is actually finished. while creativity is sometime boundless the end result should always be the result of a clear objective, the end result. I often get caught between creativity and completion and from the emails I've received, I have discovered im not alone .So we asked the experts.

Before the answers I’d like to thank all designers that answered this question. And a special thanks to Justin Maller for the great help. Also we'd love to know your opinion, so leave a question telling us when do you think a design is finished.

Chuck Anderson - http://nopattern.com

When any more would be too much and any less would be too little. Knowing when something is finished comes down to an eye for composition and detail, in my opinion. If I can look at the image and it has good balance and just "feels" right. It's hard to explain, you just kind of know when it's time to stop. Of course, if you're working for a client, it's time to stop when they say it's time to stop!

James White - http://www.signalnoise.com

I see my artwork as one big organic process. If I like elements and methods I developed in previous pieces, I am prone to re-use them again in a different way for a new work. Art is constant exploration, so in a way I am never finished my work. However, when I feel an individual design is going well the best thing to do is close it and step away for a while. I let my eyes rest for an hour or so. When I return to look at it again errors and inconsistancies tend to be very obvious. In the end, if I can look at a piece of my art the next day and it still looks okay, then I'm on the right track. Everyone has to think about their personal workflow to find the proper balance of achieving your goal with a given idea, while not overworking it at the same time.

Solid Gold Bomb

Justin Maller - http://www.superlover.com.au

I know a piece is finished when I set it as my wallpaper and don't notice any flaws.

Guilherme Marconi - http://brain.marconi.nu/

I always ask myself the same thing, like if it has met my expectations.

It's done when I let my feelings tell me if everything is OK. I use the same thing to choose colors, where to add shadows, and the most important, if the process to get to that point was pleasant and satisfactory. That for me is more important than the end result, and for me, it's done. Then it's just save it and show to my fiance, my main critics.

Collis Ta’eed - http://eden.cc, http://collistaeed.com/

"I know a design is finished when every time I add something or adjust something it seems to get worse. I often create a set of history snapshots of the design trying different things - additions or small alterations - and then show them to my wife - who is also a designer. When we both agree that the original is already complete then I delete the snapshots and stop there. Of course sometimes adding one more element can lead you down a whole other path of design, and I have wound up totally reworking a look. But that's the joy of design, there are always many solutions to a problem!"

Alberto Seveso - http://www.recycledarea.co.uk

well.. i don't know! I'm never sure when a piece is ended or it seems good, I try and risk, but I have a small secret to say, I never look the illustration of forehead when I believe is ready, I tilt my head of 45° on my left side and I look the monitor, if I like from this position I consider done.

Jeremie Werner - http://www.evasion.cc/

When I think my artwork is finished, I usually put it in an another place for one week. It's important to think to other things, then to look back to your artwork. You may see details you haven't seen before. You may also look at it very close, then very far to see if composition is really working. Another good trick to find composition problems is to flip your image vertical. When flipped, the artwork tends to show easily his problems.

I may also get feedback from other designers friends, but most the time the artwork is something personnal that only you can feel.

Sean Hodge - http://aiburn.com/

A design is finished once it has accomplished the project goals. What those goals are varies depending on the nature of the design project, whether it's client work or personal work, the audience you're targeting, and others. Every project should have criteria that need to be met. Throughout the process you work to meet those criteria. Once they are met, you're done.

You need to build in stages into your design process where you are the critic. If you're a constant skeptic you can't create, but you need to build in time to analyze your design. Ask yourself questions. Is the design interesting? Does it communicate what we're after here? Is the typography legible? Does it meet our goals? Run through a checklist in your head.

A good designer is their own worst critic. Keep in mind though that you need to set reasonable limits on this process based on the end audience, deadline, and project scope. If you're refining details that the audience won't notice, then your pushing unnecessary pixels, and your hindering both your business and your clients.

Bruno Borges - http://OIT8DOI2.com

I think every design when reviewed has some room for improvement. Actually it's true because we can always make it better. When it's possible I review my designs a couple of times to sort of work more on the details, small things that only are revealed when you stop working on that piece for a bit and then get back. So, when the design is literally done is when it meets the client's needs.

Chris Haines - http://neondistractions.com

I think a design is finished - it doesn't mean I am always right - when everything works cohesively and the details hold up from far away, without looking cluttered.

Jeff Huang - http://www.thefifthorder.net

You just know it. You are the artist, so nobody else but you have the right to say that it's finished. I work on my own artwork until I'm 100% satisfied, so I guess I know my piece is finished when I am fully satisfied.

Kai Isselhorst - http://riskshiftlabs.com

I normally throw alot more in my illus then neccessary. After a day or two I start to remove every weak element to give it a perfect look. Its finished when I know that the viewers cant be overexerted by the composition.

Max Spencer - http://www.monostation.co.uk

I'm never 100% happy with any piece I've made, so in my eyes, no piece I have ever made has been finished. There is always more I feel I could do to the design when I look back after a week or two.

Perttu Murto - http://www.perttumurto.com

It's hard to tell when the piece is really finished, because you could fix and fix it forever.. When it looks good and everything is nicely together, you should save it and check it next day. That's how you will notice if there's something still what needs to be fixed.

Joshua Smith

I am finished with a piece when nothing else I add looks good. To me this means the piece isn't finished, it's simply reached my creative limitations.

Nick Delaney - http://cargocollective.com/nickdelaney

I never really feel finished with an art piece. In my opinion all my artwork is an ongoing artwork, and I always seem to refer to my old ones to create another one. Essentially all my art work is one big one, because they all relate to each other one way or another.

Alexander Radsby - http://www.aeform.net

I always overdo my work and usually resort to going back and erase most of it. If I'm still happy with the work the next day then I'll say it's finished, but it could really go on forever.

Bart van Leeuwen - http://www.imallfake.com

A design is finished when satisfied at the moment in doubt what to add next.

Jonathan Wong - http://www.artofwong.com

A design is finished when it communicates your message clearly and concisely.

Kervin Brisseaux - http://www.brisseaux.com

I'm never sure if a design is done unless i take a break from it and don't bother looking at it until the next morning. If what I see the next day puts a smile on my face, then it's done.

Phil Dunne - http://www.lovetherobot.com

As Andy Warhol once said about art, 'If you don't think about it, it's right.' When I start to get goosebumps while I'm working on an illustration, it feels right. That's when I know it's time to stop.

Erik Finsrud - http://www.thenorik.com

My work is normally never finalized till I've received feedback from my peers, they will always see something in a way I haven't. I enjoy involving others in my process.

James Wignall - http://www.mutanthands.com

When the deadline is met.