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Old style looking design.

Hi guys,

I have been working as a junior graphic designer for a small web studio for two months now. I have a degree in computer animation, however I have never worked within this field. Last summer I did a six months graphic design internship and then few months later found this job. I am learning a lot as I don't have a formal Graphic Design education.
So, my question is, by this moment I have already designed probably about 6 websites (full design). And the problem I suffer with is that when I don't copy design from someone else then my own design looks old stylish. I wonder did someone else went through this stage and eventually learned to design something more modern. And how long does this stage normally take? Or is it something permanent and I better forget about graphic design?

I wouldn't write yourself off as a designer just yet.

The benefit of an art education is sometimes just the time it gives you to know what you like, to study other designers and artists, and to get some good feedback on your work. It also gets you used to being self-critical - in a good way. As things stand you are just a few months in to a career that could last you a couple of decades, it's entirely understandable that you aren't on the money as a designer yet.

What I would say is that you really do need to work at it. This means you need to really soak up inspiration, trends, current design and styles - rather than just copying. Copying can be a great tool to learn something, but you do need to be careful as you are in a commercial field - if you copy someone's design, it's possible you'll get called out on it and then you, your employer and your client could all be in trouble.

Rather than copying, you need to think about what it is that works in a particular design - is it the layout, the column widths, the type, the colours… probably it's a mix of all these and more. But if you can start to identify what does and doesn't work, you can start working this knowledge in to your own designs.

So my advice would be:

Don't give up.
Look at what's going on in design right now and try to understand how it works.
Study. Books, blogs, articles - there's plenty of conversation about design out there, make use of it.
Practice. Don't forget to sketch out designs and layouts, get the basics of composition, information hierarchy, balance, etc right.

Hope this helps.

@Paul, sorry can't show the sites.
@Rob, thank you so much for your reply, very inspiring and supportive. I made a post this afternoon while i was sort of devostating as i spend 5 hours on design then showed it to my line manager and saw it from his perspective realizing that the design is sort of oldish. And it is not the first time happening.
Regarding me copying others designs. I probably chose the wrong word to describe my actions. I basically use someone elses layout and design ideas which i found atractive to me and then i change colour, font and even layout to adjust it to my needs, but it definitely helps me out to get inspiried and have a clue what i am trying to achieve.