We all know the adage to “think outside the box” However, sometimes I find I’m more creative INSIDE a box.

cat in box

Sometimes being in the box is better than being outside it

It’s a paradox. Sometimes limitations create more freedom than endless choices.

As Jolie Guillebeau puts it:

I’ve been teaching students about the power of a limited palette — using less than four colors.  It creates a structure of unity, it requires a focus on values, and builds an overall stronger painting.

And Wired Magazine:

At Wired, our design team sees this constraint as our daily bread… In fact, the worst thing a designer can hear is an offhand “Just do whatever you want.” That’s because designers understand the power of limits. Constraint offers an unparalleled opportunity for growth and innovation.

People often give me their hand and say, “Just draw whatever you want.” I stare at the clean skin and am at a loss for what to draw. I need to know parameters otherwise I find myself overwhelmed with choices… the infinite is paralyzing.

But give me some limits: flowers in a strip up one finger, a geometric pattern, swirls, a giraffe – and the ideas start to flow and my henna cone moves freely.

The same is true when painting silk scarves. I usually limit myself to 3 colors and one decorative element. Not only is too much too much, but if I have no limits, then I’ve made no decisions – and how can you start when you don’t know what you will be doing?

But give me limits and within them I can shine.

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