A lot of times we creatives look at limitations as a bad thing, but for the most part they’re not. Think about it, when someone gives you a broad project, one with very little in the way of specifications, what is the first thing we have to do? We have to narrow it down. We have to begin to find the boundaries. Even if it’s our own project, we have to continue narrowing it down until the creation becomes tangible. Limitations, boundaries and borders actually help the creative process. They help us narrow things down, help us understand the problem that needs to be solved (problem solving is the essence of creativity) and give us the parameters within which we can succeed.

42nd Street, Tulpehocken High SchoolI learned this years ago when I was hired to paint sets and lead the student set painting crew for a local high school’s musical. We had huge things to create and a very limited budget. The budget was a limitation, but it made us get creative. I learned to take advantage of the mis-mixed shelf at the paint store, and I learned to make inexpensive materials look professional. I learned the ten foot rule (if it can’t be seen from 10 feet away, don’t worry about it). I learned to simplify my design so that others, inexperienced students, could help me to achieve the vision, rather than doing it all myself in a panic, while the students entrusted to me could do nothing but watch.

Deadlines also can be quite helpful. I would never have attempted to do what I do today, like a full four foot painting in four minutes, were it not for spending many years trying to meet tight deadlines.

Limitations can be quite helpful to the creative process, so don’t fret them, let them stretch you. This takes the focus off what you don’t have and forces you to look at what you already have and learn to do the best you can with it.

Limitations are your creativity friend. Embrace them and get creative.

  1. kentsanders says:

    Thanks Dave. Great thoughts. Limitations are essential to creativity because they help channel your energy, like banks on the side of a river.

  2. Melissa says:

    Great article David! I love your perspective; by changing the way I think about limitations they can help me find more solutions and become more creative.

  3. Tienny says:

    Of course, limitations help in creativity


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