Design Is Clarity
The key to good design is often named as simplicity. Nevertheless, I don’t believe it’s true that simplicity simply leads to better design. It would suggest that things which are complex are not well designed. I think simplicity is often confused for clarity, where aesthetic is put ahead of communication and then graphic design is styled in a simple, minimal way because of this misnomer. Simplicity in graphic design is probably more correlation with effectiveness than causation.
If graphic design is communication, then it’s the message that should be clear, not necessarily the form that should be simple. Design that is clear in form and message can also be intricate in style. Take a look at the work of Ken Taylor and Martin Schmetzer; their style is complex, but never confusing.
If we follow the principles of design and use proper proportion, hierarchy, space, unity, rhythm, etc. then we can create graphic design that communicates clearly regardless of it’s stylistic qualities. If we get stuck on a project, we shouldn’t ask “How can I make this more simple?” jumping to the solution of removing something, but “How can I make this communicate better?” and that might come at the addition of something.