expand your creativity with limitations

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I’ve been very occupied with simplicity lately. Scaling back, getting to the core of  things in order to focus on the important stuff. The motivation is to build a healthy momentum, and avoid getting stressed out.

In todays world there are so many things that claim our attention – especially as we have two kinds of worlds happening – a virtual one and a real one, it’s sometimes hard to find a balance between doing the things we think we need to do, the things others want us to do or things we get caught up in, such as reading articles we stumble upon in our facebook stream, and the really important things.

This weeding out the less important things, or getting rid of distraction and endless choices – which could also be called prioritising, made me think of the way I worked during my last project.

It’s about using limitation and how it can serve as a way to spark and challenge  creativity.

This is not a new discovery, it’s something I have always worked with, but I guess I have just never really known how crucial it is.

Paralysed with choice

Try to think of a moment in your life when you had all the possibilities in the world, maybe you wanted to change job, move house, or just start a new collection or body of work.

Suddenly you have all the possibilities in the world. At first it probably feels exciting, but it can also feel really overwhelming. Because you can choose everything, it can be both time-consuming and hard to narrow down what you really want, and what direction to go in.

The choice can paralyse you, and you might have a tendency to work on the surface, expoling and following a lot of different opportunities, instead of choosing one thing and going deep with that.

What limitations can do to your creativity

When you work within a set parametre, something happens to your ideas, your inspiration and the creative process – you will embrace the limitations and start using them to it’s advantage for innovation.

You know how it is with kids, they are happier, calmer and feel safer if they have boundaries.

Well, i think the same is true with creativity. We need that wall of limitation to bounce up against. We need a set framework to be able to unfold our greatest creative potential. Because if you just let it run loose in ‘you can do anything-land’ it will get lost, paralysed with choice.

I found that working within the boundaries of the Transforming Treasures project, where i could only use old silverware and remake it, not add anything else to it, really challenged my creativity, and made me explore new forms in ways I wouldn’t have if I could have done ‘anything’. It also made me braver and more playful.

So by using limitations, not only in our creative work, but maybe also in our daily life, I think we can save a lot of time and worry.  Time for choosing and exploring options that might not be important or even relevant in the first place. Instead we can plot out clear directions and explore within them.

Maybe limitations is a tool we can turn to when we feel creatively stuck or want to challenge ourselves? Try watching this TED talk for more inspiration.