Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Limits and creativity

Normally when I head up to the student union it’s just to dash in and use the ATM or grab some sushi to take back to the lab for lunch. Yesterday’s mission was to procure "Flogging Molly" tickets for my daughter, so I had opportunity to wander elsewhere for a change. Up on the second floor in the student lounge area they had a display from the architecture department. Apparently the U is considering changing their information kiosks; you know, the places on campus that get plastered with posters and notices of everything going about on campus. The architecture department had a student competition to design new kiosks and the results were on display. Each of the 20 finalists had a poster with a digital rendering of the student architect’s vision, along with a 3-D model of the project. It was fun to see how everyone’s visions of the project were so very different. The models ran the gamut from modern to traditional, organic to industrial, simplistic to artsy.

I imagine the kiosk project was fun because the possibilities seem so limitless. At the same time I wonder if the lack of constraints actually made the project harder because there are so many possibilities. I "dabbled" in architecture when I designed my second story addition when we did our big home remodel. (I hired a designer to draw up the real blue prints and make sure the addition was structurally sound.) That project was of course, constrained by things like the lay out of my existing home and yard, so my possibilities were somewhat limited. I think the limitations helped give me direction. I’ve often wondered if I had started my home completely from scratch what my vision would have been.

So do artistic types suffer from having too many choices? Or is this the thing that really sets apart the real artist from the rest of us? Are artists better equipped to sort out all the possibilities and intuitively know what to create, while the rest of us need some type of limitation to set our artistic vision in motion? The one thing I love about making beads is the seemingly limitless possibilities… so many colors, shapes, styles, techniques to work with. But sometimes I stand before my torch clueless and uninspired, totally overwhelmed by all the colors and supplies set before me. I seem to need some sort of limiting factor to set my creativity in motion. Perhaps I want to make a bead to match a new outfit. I’ll pick the colors and style to match the outfit, then create that bead. The next thing you know I’m inspired to create new and different things, things I wouldn’t have thought of or tried had I not limited my creativity to making that bead to match that outfit. I wonder if other people find creativity through limitation?

No comments: