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Some good points and lets be honest, this is broken record for most high end professional designer like yourself or Elliot. Trouble is for the rest of us, trying to earn a decent crumb is what seems to be the most diluted of industries. When a client says “Web 2.0” “Zing” “I want it to pop” and other BS terms, what do we do? We just bite the bullet. We can only advise and after that the paying client gets what they pay for basically.
What I would suggest is, that designers put themselves out there more. Do what THEY want to see in personal projects. Who cares if no one likes it, as long as it’s original that’s what matters, then after a while fine tuning that style will be the best thing you could possible do. Obviously stick to certain design rules, but after that, go wild.
People just don’t go wild anymore or take any chances :(