Creativity is often thought as a process of opening up, of abandoning limits and doing away with rules.
At a certain stage of the creative process, this is true.
Nonetheless, creativity is also about establishing rules and limits. This is best demonstrated in the work of photographers, who block out the vast majority what’s before their eyes in order to find relationships and set priorities with the frame they have chosen.
A wonderful illustration of this is found in HSBC’s latest TV spot, which presents a successful Maylaysian cinematographer recalling how, as a small boy, his uncle taught him to “open his eyes.”
What we see is the older man showing the boy how to frame up a scene. The lesson here is that opening one’s eyes can be about closing off everything except a small portion of the what’s before you.
As illustrated this example, creativity is not only about freeing the imagination, but constraining it.
Often these very constraints are what liberate us.