Use Constraints to Your Advantage

“The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.” — Orson Welles

“The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.” — Orson Welles

Inspiration is endless. It can come from viewing the fine details of the Mona Lisa up close or seeing a stray cat run across your back yard. We never know which small detail will lead to our next great work. There are endless possibilities, but the Muse isn’t calling.

It can be intimidating. People wait patiently for our next great work, but soon they start to get antsy. “What’s taking her so long to write that book?” “Why do they keep delaying that movie?” The expectations keep mounting. Yet, still nothing comes to us.

People will try to give us ideas. “Why don’t you try…” or “What about…” but the last thing we need is more possibilities. That’s what caused this mess is the first place.

As artists, we don’t like people trying to stifle us. We find freedom in the possibilities. Our canvas is only limited by our imaginations. We can bring anything to life.

Therein lies the paradox. We don’t need more options. We need more limitations.

If I told you, you have once chance to create the greatest painting of your life. What would you do? How would you approach it? Where would you even begin?

You would probably freeze up. You would be paralyzed by fear. Fear of messing up. Fear of choosing the wrong thing. Fear of messing up your chances.

That is where restraints come into play. Restraints help you narrow down your options. They stop you from being paralyzed by fear. They help you make a decision.

“But out of limitations comes creativity.” — Debbie Allen

Robert Rodriguez used limitations to create his first film El Mariachi, which became the lowest budget movie ever released by a major studio. This revelation has defined his film making ever since.

Architect Frank Gehry used constraints in his building designs. For his award-winning design of the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the strict standards for acoustics led to the unique design of the Hall’s interior space.

Austin Kleon, gained fame for his Newspaper Blackout poems. He creates these poems by taking a newspaper, and crossing out everything but the words he needs to create a poem.

These are just a few examples of how constraints enhance your creativity. The next time you feel stuck trying to come up with an idea for your great work, give yourself some limitations. They will give you the necessary fuel to spark your creativity and your art.

Photo by Florent Chretien

This was originally posted on Marketing Your Art the Right Way.

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