08 Jul 2020

Seems a bit counterintuitive doesn’t it? But here’s the thing, without restrictions the possibilities literally are endless, and therein lies the problem.

With endless options at your disposal, it can be a bit like grasping smoke. Your mind wanders aimlessly down the rabbit hole, and more often than not, when you come back out, you find yourself in a place you barely recognise. To use another metaphor, not only has the game changed, but you’re not even playing the same sport anymore.

Now don’t mistake purposeful original thinking for random creativity. They both take you to some weird and wonderful places, but, while one is directionless, the other is born out of a response to exactly that – direction. And it’s this direction – this brief, these ‘restrictions’ – that gives ideas focus, and ultimately a result that is better for it.

“What about art? I hear you say, the paintings, the sculptures, and the masterpieces we have built
monuments to?”

Well, these too have come about out of a very deliberate, often self-imposed, creative restriction.

From MONA to Monet, the two are almost diametrically opposed in ethos, made famous by their dedication to their brief and philosophies.

The former has attained global recognition for its almost religious evolution in the pursuit of refining and rethinking what it is they want to say, in their own often loud and very specific voice. While the latter is famous for being one of the most consistent practitioners of the impressionist’s philosophy, of expressing their perception of what lay before them. And in doing so would not allow themselves any room to stray, restricted by their role of capturing an impression of one specific moment.

To give you another example, more recently we’ve had to stare down the realities of what COVID-19 has, without any prejudice influencing its distribution, brought upon our world.

“On a scale never seen before, society has for the first time on a global scale had restrictions placed on them.”

We have seen our perceived freedoms swiftly removed, and what was once a population blindly racing down a path of aimless thoughtlessness has had the proverbial handbrake applied. We’ve stopped. And we’re outraged!

But for just one second, take a moment to consider that this is an opportunity like none before it, to reconsider everything we know. What if we were to think of these times as a brief for our collective
creative mind, a time for ideas within those restrictions, rather than an oppression of our freedoms. We have already seen it start to happen on a community scale, businesses and individuals responding to the challenges, and using creative lateral thinking to pivot and survive in this new environment.

“When you start to look into the genesis of great things, you’ll start to notice these are all examples of thinking within restrictions.”

And professional creatives are no different. Our perceived need for a sense of freedom to be creative means we’ve taken the restriction of not wanting to call them restrictions, and given them the more palatable moniker of the ‘Creative Brief’.

And when you’re armed with a Creative Brief, you have the opportunity to stare down anything, and ask, could it be better? Is there another way? Because, I think if we were to be honest with ourselves, the answer would, more than likely, almost always be yes.

Share me: