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Constraints and Creativity…

When I was studying acting at Le Conservatoire d’Art Dramatique in Quebec City, I remember being introduced to the idea of structure and restrictions within the creative process. At first it seemed like a negative idea. No one was going to tell me what I can or cannot do!

Then I embarked on an observation project with one of my fellow students. We had to go out into the world, choose a location, observe, over a period of time, the people, sounds, smells, and whatever else came to the senses. We chose a bingo hall in “Bas Ville” (lower town). After a night at the “salle de bingo”, we had to play back to the class each and every moment we witnessed and remembered. The next step, once we had given a full playback, was to create une pièce de théâtre for our final 1st year project.

We decided to restrict our playing area into a small square around us. A very small square. This constraint gave us the freedom to delve deep into all our characters, the sounds, and situations of our Bingo piece. It forced us to become very clear about our story, and the characters. Our energy turned deliciously contained and compelling for the audience to watch. A very valuable lesson.

My father, who is a painter, also encouraged his students to limit their palette. Less colour choices made for some unusual results.

The following article by Nathan Weller is a welcome read on the benefits of limitations in the creative process. What do you think? Have you used this concept?

Adding Constraints May Boost Your Creativity

The Benefits of Constraints

Constraints offer up a lot of benefits. Most of you illustrators/designers are familiar with scenarios like this (especially as kids) – “Hey, you’re good at art! Draw me something!” Ok, what? “I don’t know…something awesome!” And at times, it doesn’t get much better in the professional world. Lets say the owner of a paper store comes to you and says, “I’d like you to help us re-brand and appeal to a younger audience” immediately followed by a blank look of expectancy. You’re thinking… geez, thanks for the direction…as you scramble to come up with something brilliant.

Read the rest of the article by Nathan Weller