Archive for May, 2008|Monthly archive page

The benefits of working with limitations

In most of our ‘everyday’ projects we are forced to work within constraints of time, materials, skills and budgets, as well as a range of highly specific client needs, giving very little room for experimentation – the focus is on delivery. When we’re experimenting creatively we don’t need to be anywhere near as rigid, but working within constraints is an excellent way to channel and focus our creative efforts.

 

Creativity Quotes

Creativity arises out of the tension between spontaneity and limitations, the latter (like the river banks) forcing the spontaneity into the various forms which are essential to the work of art or poem. – Rollo May

 

Shakespeare wrote his sonnets within a strict discipline, fourteen lines of iambic pentameter, rhyming in three quatrains and a couplet. Were his sonnets dull? Mozart wrote his sonatas within an equally rigid discipline – exposition, development, and recapitulation. Were they dull? – David Ogilvy

 

The benefits of working with limitations

Working within a set plan is as critical to developing our creative experience as the aimless doodling we’ve discussed in previous newsletters (Relaxing into Creativity). It offers us the opportunity to put into practice the abstract discoveries captured from our non-focused contemplations, and stretches our responses, ironically forcing us to be more innovative, rather than less.

 

If we don’t have specific imposed constraints, one nice approach is to copy the way children make up rules for their games. These ‘rules’ generally take a reasonably simple exercise which offers little sense of accomplishment in itself but by adding daring elements and time limits, turn it into a series of challenges to pit their wits against. 

 

In a creative project, these rules create a kind of lens, temporarily distorting the way we view the world, focusing our attention to ‘draw out’ our creativity as we rise to the challenge of examining and representing our world from a new perspective. 

 

We also feel invigorated by overcoming challenges, and as we go along, set ourselves new and more stimulating ‘rules’ that allow us to grow from strength to strength. 

 

By forcing us to go beyond our comfort zone, these imposed ‘strictures’ allow us to experiment, push ourselves a little bit further, develop confidence in our ability to meet challenges, and develop whole new lines of interest.  

 

Wishing you all a stimulating and invigorating May.

Ideas for Creative Challenges

Aside from time and budget, creative challenges can be applied to style, content and technique. Here are some ideas:

 

Visual Arts: Make a collage all in one colour, or using only one motif / Focus only on one of the formal elements at a time (line, colour, form, texture, light, space, shape) / Build up form using one shape only

Writing: Write in metred prose / Write in haikus / Use opposites to describe an image

Music: Work a piece from another song into yours / Create a handmade instrument & work this sound into your music / speed up the rhythm, or slow it down.

Cooking: Explore the use of specific spices / Create recipes with substitutes for wheat or sugar

Fashion: Incorporate contrasting textiles / Design the same garment for different markets.

 

These exercises expand our abilities and provide us with new insights into how we can recreate and represent the world around us, in the process revealing something of our personal style. Over time this builds easily into a body of work that bears our own personal ‘stamp’.