Constraints as a Channel to Creativity
Most artists will admit, there is something creatively exhilarating about constraints put on the creation of your work. Some art exhibits require work done in a certain medium–like the Transparent Watercolor Society’s requirement that the art actually be completed in transparent watercolor– not opaque. Or the challenge of a small size for the work, like less than 100 sq inches, in a variety of shows, Richeson’s Small Works show (note to enter the show for this year, entry is 11.4.11). Or, see a fantastic example of small space art–less than 8×10 at the Soap Factory’s $99 fundraiser, MN. As an aside, this is a genius way to raise money for an art gallery.
I have a friend who constrained herself to paint only on hub caps.
One time I had run out of watercolor paper, so I painted on manila folders. Not too bad; not my best work, but a change of materials can be enlightening. I can’t tell you the number of times I and other watercolorists have dipped their brushes into their coffee instead of their water. Partially due to that happy accident, now some watercolorists have reverted to painting with coffee. It makes a beautiful sepia tone, although I would not consider it archival. I’m quite fastidious about archival materials.
On the “social-media-meets-emerging-contemporary-art” scene, I am newly intrigued with the challenge of creating eye-catching, stunning, silly or brand-sensitive QR codes. They are those odd little boxes that look like a scrambled-up bar code– which is sort of what they are. The “Quick Response” code can be read by downloading a scanner app and scanning the code. It can provide coupons, videos, content, etc.
From the artist/designer’s perspective, it’s certainly a constraint to design an image within a defined shape containing elements that are readable by a downloadable app and still carry the double meaning of the code AND the message of the artist.
Mashable.com has a discussion on how to make QR codes more beautiful. In a recent Facebook post on Mashable’s page, a discussion grew about if a QR code is more appealing, are you more likely to download the app and scan the code? Although some people said they would prefer a more tangible reward (like food) the consensus was yes; the beauty of the image would motivate them to behave in a way the brand wanted them to.
Ahhh-h-h-h, beauty wins again. Or on the True Blood one; maybe it’s gore that’s winning. A little creepy–but you can’t ignore it’s power. In any case, superb design gets a nod for efficacy.
Constraints can come from necessity, accidents, forgetfulness, a drive to challenge one’s self, or just goofing around.
I think constraints can actually can lead to more innovative art.