How Constraints & Abundance Influence Your Creativity

Constraints Foster Creativity, Abundance Doesn’t

At the beginning of the year, I read an article on how constraints foster creativity. I was so fascinated with the article that I posted it on my Facebook Page. The article challenged my thinking on how constraints foster creativity.

I knew that putting limitations on yourself is a good way to work in a series and develop a body of work. But this article surprised me.

Because it went beyond what I knew which is, constraints foster creativity when you purposefully put limitations on yourself, to make another assertion.

It made the case, based on research, that the abundance of resources — any type of resource — is counter-productive to creativity. In other words, having more makes you less creative. Quite startling — don’t you think?

The More Resources You Have, the Less Creative You Are

The idea that constraints foster creativity means you don’t have to have more time in order to be creative. You don’t have to have more art supplies in order to be creative. You don’t have to have a bigger studio space in order to be creative. So ok, we get it! We don’t need to have more to create better.

But what if we just like to have more stuff? What if we just can’t do without? That’s no big deal, right? Sorry, but yes it is a big deal! Contrary to conventional wisdom, Scott Sonenshein, the author of Stretch, says “the odds of success decreases “if we amass lots of resources”. He goes on to explain that having more resources also leaves us feeling less capable and less accomplished.”

The More Resources You Have, the Less Accomplished You Feel.

Come to think of it, this makes perfect sense. If you have all the resources it takes, a large studio space with world-class technology, equipment, tools, and supplies yet you’re aren’t able to create exciting work, won’t you feel bummed? I would!!

I think most of us don’t realize that buying all the nice creative tools, equipment, and supplies will not make us more creative. So, somehow we fall victim to the notion that more is better.

But what exactly is it about the abundance of supplies that makes us less creative? Researchers say when we have a lot of things, we lose the incentive to use that thing in novel ways. However, if we encounter constraints in some way, our brains naturally look for creative ways to make things work for us.

So as I went about working in my studio, I wondered about the one thing that could be stifling our creativity. And hands down, the one thing textile artists and art quilters cannot have enough of is (drumroll please)….fabric!

Textile Artists Cannot Have Enough Fabric

Have you seen this quote?

“One yard of fabric like one cookie is never enough.

What about this one?

My husband lets me have all the fabric I can hide.

Does the excess fabric buying help our creativity? Nah…

I think it’s time we had a talk about the fabric problem most of us have. Don’t you think? Let’s have that talk in part 2 of this series. Shall we?

But before that, ponder over this:

Appreciate that you already have everything you need to succeed in business and life. Stop worrying about what you don’t have and start engaging what you do have in more useful ways. ~ Scott Soneshein

Your Turn

Test Your Fabric-Love Relationship?

Do you buy fabric when …..

  1. There’s a sale? Y/N
  2. You need it? Y/N
  3. You go by the fabric store? Y/N
  4. There’s no one home to see you bring it in? Y/N
  5. You feel like it? Y/N

How many of your answers were YES? Share your results in the comments section below.

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Originally published at CLARA NARTEY |Textile Artist.