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The Inspiration of Boundaries

September 2, 2010

I get most of my ideas for design and other creative stuff from two situations: a) driving by myself, and b) that fuzzy place between dreaming and waking up in the morning.  I happened to be in situation a) a few weeks ago on my way to pick up a gift for my friend’s upcoming birthday.  “I have absolutely nothing to wrap this gift with at home” I thought… for some reason I take no pleasure in buying wrapping for gifts – I think maybe because the thought of buying 3 yards of unoriginal, tear-happy paper for $5 makes me want to strangle myself with $7 rainbow-coloured curly ribbon.  From there I started to think of all the more creative, economical ways of wrapping a gift that is both functional and gorgeous.

In the middle of this mental gift-wrapping-alternative slideshow in my mind I had a small but significant epiphany that went something like this: “limitations and boundaries within our daily lives are a major source for inspiring creativity.”

I can hear some of you saying “well obviously…” but really, most of us see limitations as an annoyance – a reason to give up or something that can make a good day turn bad.

From an art/design perspective, external boundaries can be an extremely effective way to push your creativity to the limits and come up with something extraordinary.  Space, time, colour, budget and other factors play huge rolls in forming the box we need to think outside of. An extreme example of external restrictions on creativity is the art competition put on by the Hirshhorn Modern Art Gallery in DC.  The artists were asked to make an art piece using only a single sheet of paper.  Some of the results are stunning!

Some artists and designers also take it upon themselves to create their own restrictions, taking their imagination to new heights.  A few good examples of this:  Justin Quinn’s elegant typography art using only the letter E and my personal favorite, Liz Hickok’s Jell-o Creations.

But back to real life – even everyday restrictions (like running out of wrapping paper, or not having quite enough butter in the fridge at 7pm for that famous cookie recipe you promised whip up for that party that starts at eight…) these kinds of things are often met with frustration and a big long sigh. But without restrictions like these, life would be boring, no one would have any good stories to tell and we’d be all a little less resourceful.

So embrace the restrictions life gives you! Think of them as little blessings in disguise and take from them what you can.  And when life gets a little mundane, try creating your own restrictions and see where it takes you! Really interesting people are those who think outside the box that restriction has created and use it as a jumping off point into the unexplored.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Angela Hagen permalink
    September 4, 2010 3:32 am

    A very enjoyable read, Angela!
    You & me both – driving alone (45-min drive to & from work) and in the middle of the night (or upon waking) – that’s when creativity strikes. I believe that a lot of that inspiration comes directly from God; often the only time He can speak so we can hear (or listen) is in the wee hours of the morning. Or when we are alone with our thoughts.
    For example, right now it is 3:26 in the a.m. I got up a little after 1:00 a.m., thinking it must be almost 6:00. I had ideas tumbling around in my head for our school’s Welcome bulletin board, which I am doing. Woke up with just the right words to add to the board.. Played with it on my computer. Then did some more work related to it. Then checked my Facebook :^)
    I think I’ll come back and read your blog again…Thanks!

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